Dr. L : Hello,
Dr. L : I would like to help you with your parenting question.
Dr. L : I can understand how frustrating and worrisome your son's behavior is to you and your husband. It is baffling to see a child that excels all of a sudden hit a slump in motivation and begin to act unusually.
Dr. L : The reality is that he is 4 1/2...and at 4 1/2 his ability to stay focused and on task is not going to be consistent. There will be periods where he is attentive and engaged and other periods where he is off in the clouds. That's part and parcel of childhood development.
Dr. L : You have done the right thing by playing ball with him at home as a way to keep up his interest. You might also encourage an interest in sports by taking him to a ballgame or two of older children...or better yet a professional team. Perhaps getting him a special ball, bat or glove might also be a motivator.
Dr. L : Truly it is normal and natural for kids to cycle through different levels of attention and motivation. You are right on the money by saying that you do not want to spoil his interest in sports by being punitive....what he needs right now is your patience...and your praise for when he stays on task in the outfield, up at bat, or even sitting on the bench.
Dr. L : Partly what you need to keep in mind is that every parent will experience multiple moments of embarrassment when their child acts up, doesn't follow instructions, ignores the requests of elders and so forth. This is our issue and we need to get past the embarrassment and accept that the child is just that...a child. I know this is not easy...but no child will have perfect behavior in every occasion.
Dr. L : You brought up the issue of his fear of kindergarten. Do you know why he is fearful? Has he visited the kindergarten classrooms to see how they look, what goes on there, etc? Many schools offer opportunities for pre-kindergartens to spend part of a day in the classroom to help them acclimate to the new environment. Perhaps you could see if this is possible for him.
Dr. L : You also wrote that you worry if he is falling behind. First, there is great difference in the development of kids...usually girls develop faster, those with older siblings also seem to have some advantages. However, by the time children hit 7 or 8 years old those differences disappear and the kids are on a more level playing field. Second, you could ask his pre-school teacher how he is doing overall.
Dr. L : It seems to me that your son has hit a phase where he is less attentive and more independent. While this may be challenging, it is normal.
Dr. L : I am going to suggest a very good parenting book that will be helpful in looking at his development and how to manage the changes you are witnessing:
Dr. L : Parenting With Love and Logic by Dr. Cline and Mr. Fay
Dr. L : Also see their website: loveandlogic.com
Dr. L : I see you are offline. When you come online I will be notified.
Dr. L : Thank you.