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My 6 years old son often get distracted when he is doing something

My 6 years old son often get distracted when he is doing something And it will take very long time for him to finish one simple task because he will attend another thing in the middle.
For example if I ask him to go put something in the washing machine he will drag by say this or that and join some other conversations then end up forgetting what he need to do or takes very long for him to get it done.
He has no problem with understanding or absorbing new knowledge. He is also quite smart.
But I afraid this habit will be bad for the long term.
What should I do to improve this?
3 Responses
973741 tn?1342342773
That's hard.  I have one child who is especially like this.  Six is a young age to worry that distraction will be a life long issue.  I think at that age, the motivation to something like "go get your shoes for school" is low when they may really want to stay home, you know? But as they get older they get more motivated for things that they want to do or see consequences (like getting a tardy from school) to be something that spurs faster action.  I would take a positive approach.  Praise like crazy when he DOES do something and stays on task.   Do his teachers report anything at school with this?
189897 tn?1441126518
COMMUNITY LEADER
Yes, I definitely agree with specialmom...particularly the motivation part.  Kids of this age really haven't learned much of a "work ethic" and would rather do something (anything) fun.   Also the smarter a child is, the better they problem solve ways to avoid doing what they don't want to do.  Unless, his teachers are also concerned, this is a "habit" only if you allow it to be.   Try giving time limits to get things done.  Maybe set the timer on a smart phone...just be realistic.
134578 tn?1614729226
It sounds like you think the problem is that he is generally distractable. That might be true, or also he simply might have difficulty connecting one step to the next when completing a goal (such as, put on your shoes so we can go to the store. Putting on shoes can still take a while even for a kid motivated to go somewhere.)

But it also could be simpler than that -- if he's mostly doing this when directed by you to do something around the house, he might just be resisting the interruption of the flow of his thoughts and think the things you ask him to do are not interesting. Presumably if he refuses point-blank to do a task, that would bring down a negative response from you, which he doesn't want. But some kids learn that they can still support their own autonomy even when a parent is telling them to do something, by dragging their feet, doing other things along the way, etc. His (nominal) movement in the direction you have told him to go will keep you from being mad, but he also gets to be in charge of himself.

My suggestion would be to see if he gets this distracted on the way to something fun he likes. If he gets this distracted when doing something he wants to do, not just when doing something kind of boring that you want him to do, it seems like it might be a tendency to keep an eye on.

If he can't seem to keep his focus on anything at all, fun or not, you might take the time to break the tasks out, give instructions one small step at a time, and like that. If the problem of distraction seems extreme, sometimes professional help (such as occupational therapy) even comes into play.

Frankly, though, the example you gave sounds more like garden-variety kid resistance when told to stop one's own activity and do a task at Mom's request. Yes, he needs to know that as part of the family he has to help out, but no, he shouldn't have to do it at the drop of a hat when he's in the middle of something else. Give him a time frame, or set a timer, and be considerate of his autonomy. He probably wants to do the things the members of the family depend on, just be careful not to expect him to always leap up whenever you ask him to, like he might have been delighted to do when he was 2. :)

The short form of what I'm trying to suggest is to be sure to solve the right problem. If he's purposely dragging his feet to feel like the boss of himself when the task is dull, solve for that. If the problem is that he cannot maintain his focus on anything whether it's fun or not, solve for that. I'd say it sort of sounds like the issue is more the first one.
2 Comments
Yes, I observe that he will have good concentration on doing what he likes. Might be from all these answers, I come to be less worry and understand that it is quite normal for some children ?
The teachers did not mention any concern regarding this, yet. But if I compare him to his younger brother (3 years younger), they are quite different. For the younger brother if I ask him to do anything he will go and do straight to it and do not get distracted or drag a long the way when he is doing the task.
I was not kidding when I said "be careful not to expect him to always leap up whenever you ask him to, like he might have been delighted to do when he was 2. :) "

When my son was a toddler or just out of being a toddler (so, age 2 or 3) he would do anything I suggested. Just being able to fulfill an adult's suggestions is a trip, for kids that young. I'd ask my son at that age if he wanted to go anywhere or do anything (even things I myself thought were boring) and he'd leap in delight.

But by age 6, a child is developing his own trains of thought and his own ideas of what to do during the day, and for his mother to ask him to do something is often an interruption.

Over time, kids develop autonomy and self-direction, and that is a GOOD thing, it starts them on the path to being an adult. So, treat him with respect for his thought processes and don't be surprised if he doesn't always "hop to" like his little brother (who probably also, I hate to break it to you, won't still be "hopping to" at age 6). You'll get better results if you treat your older son's time as his own, that you are asking him to interrupt to help you.  He might just still be only 6, but he will do better if you treat him like he has the capability of self-management, and make your requests into specific, bite-sized pieces, with some flexibility regarding the time in which you need the thing to be done. (And praise him or thank him when he does it, you're more likely to get him to do it again if you do. :) )

Obviously, you are still the authority figure and he is a member of the family team, so I am not saying to fall over backwards and never request help or give direction. I'm just saying that at around this age (if not even a bit earlier), is when I started treating my son more like I treat my husband when asking for help around the house. At age 6 (and on and on, past his teens) being the boss of himself is the name of the game for a kid.  Even a 6-year-old has the right to structure his own time as much as is possible, given the framework of the demands of school and the needs of family life. I think he will appreciate you taking this approach.
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