Monday, June 25, 2012

How can I get my kid to listen?

Miss Dorothy

I need your help, my first grader is having a hard time listening and following directions at school. He completes his work, has great marks but doesn't want to listen. I am not sure what is going on, or if he understands. I had a meeting with the teacher and he said "__ just looks at me with a blank look on his face" Have any advice???

- Mom of 3 boys

First I would recommend that you get his ears checked right away, it could simply be that he isn't hearing.

Have you noticed if he takes a little while to think about what you tell him to do before he acts? He may need longer to process what he his ears take in before he can do what is asked of him, and the teacher may just need to give him more wait time.

Have you ever noticed if his face doesn't seem to reflect what he feels? If he looks at you when he is in trouble, but doesn't seem distressed or remorseful, and then suddenly bursts into tears? 

Sometimes children have a "flat affect" which means their face doesn't reflect what they are feeling. It is something that can be taught (usually) but it can be super frustrating for a parent or teacher when a kid doesn't react in the way we want or expect to see them react.

Is it possible that he is in "over his head" in this class?

If he did really well in kindergarten, but wasn't really stretching to learn new things, and now the material is getting harder, it is possible he hasn't figured out how to respond because he was accustomed to already knowing. 

It might just be an adjustment, and he needs you to reassure him that he is in school to learn, and that you don't expect him to be the first or the best in the class, but to be always learning something new and be the best he can be.

It is also possible that he is simply bored. If he is getting good marks, it may be too easy for him and he is looking at the teacher blankly because he can't believe how uninteresting the work seems.  His previous school's kindergarten program may have been more rigorous than this 1st grade class is.

Work with him at home with a mirror. Have him practice looking interested, looking like he is thinking, looking like he doesn't understand, and even looking like he is sorry. Make it an acting game and practice wherever you go!

Making faces that show others what they are expecting you to feel or that show others what is going on inside you is a really helpful tool in school. 

But get those ears checked right away.  Just in case.

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