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How to get a 6yo to focus better in school, sports, etc..

My son is 6 and in first grade. We had some issues with him last year not paying attention, excessive talking, playing in class, etc. This year he is starting to do the same thing. The teacher says it's like he just cannot calm down and he only has about a day or so each week that he's able to do great. He begged me to let him play soccer and I agreed, but he doesn't focus there either.

Yesterday morning I received an email from his soccer coach asking what she can do to keep him focused better during practice and at games. I honestly don't know what to tell her. I thought about writing her back and saying "your guess is as good as mine and if you can figure something out let me know so I can let his teacher know too" But decided against I'm with him at every practice and every game and his father is at every other practice and every game. We try to keep him engaged and paying attention, but it's not really working.

His teacher has mentioned medication and told me that she thinks it may help him, but I really don't want to do that!

Has anyone else dealt with this? How did you handle it? What should I write the coach back? How can I help to keep him focused without putting him on meds?


Asked by Mom2Dano at 9:21 AM on Sep. 24, 2013 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

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This question is closed.
Answers (12)
  • Just be honest. "I don't know what's going on, and I don't know how to help him focus. I'm working on trying to get it figured out, but if you have any suggestions in the meantime, I'm open to them."

    Answer by wendythewriter at 5:55 PM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • The Feingold diet/program might be a good place to start, fiatpax one of the members here would be able to tell you more about it. It might be worth looking in to. I know she swears by it, and I've read where it has helped kids with ADHD. It's definitely a talking point with your child's pediatrician.

    Answer by mommy_jules at 10:13 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • While it would be a good idea to have him evaluated, you can do so much with diet and simple lifestyle changes before resorting to meds. I'm not anti-med; I'm meds as a last resort, esp. in one so young.

    Take him off HFCS, food dyes, and artificial sweeteners. Take him out and run his little legs off every day. Kids do not get enough time at school to simply run and play. All kids need that, but some boys *really* need it. Structure his home time. He needs to know when dinner will be, when bed time is, when it's time to do homework or play on the computer, whatever you all do. Talk to his teacher. As a 1st grade teacher, I'm sure she's structured, but ask her to help him know that, too. He may be distracted because he doesn't know what is supposed to happen next.

    Yes, he is probably just young and will grow out of this, but if not, that's okay, too. Love your boy for who he is, and do all that you can to help him grow.

    Answer by May-20 at 10:18 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • Talk to his doctor.

    My son had those same kinds of issues when he was little and you know what... I did him a huge disservice by not putting him on meds. I was in denial until he was 13 and about to have to repeat 8th grade before I really admitted there was a problem. He is on meds now and doing so much better. I wish I had started them sooner.

    I am not saying you have to out him on meds, but you have to do something. And talking to his doctor should be the first step.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:31 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • Talk to his dr. Some of it may be he's a 6 yo boy. Generally drs won't (and shouldn't) start meds that young. There are some dietary changes you can try. My sil cut out all HFCs from my niece's diet and she's seen a great reduction in her hyperactivity and increase in focusing. I'm not overly familiar because my kids have different issues but some other moms may be able to help you out, or your dr.

    Answer by missanc at 9:41 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • Medication shouldn't be the first resort, but you should be open to it as a possibility. It's not fair to make your child struggle and suffer because you don't want to put him on meds - I didn't want to do it either, but it really was the best thing for my sons at the time. Both my boys have ADHD, both were on meds and both are now off the meds now that we homeschool. But before I put them on meds, I tried all kinds of other things - fish oil, dietary changes, etc.

    Talk to his doctor. It's fine to be clear you don't want to try meds first thing, but do be open to what the doctor has to say. If the doctor says he's got ADHD or something else, don't resist just because it isn't what you want to hear.

    Good luck!

    Answer by wendythewriter at 9:59 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • Meds should be a last resort, especially in children under 10. Diet changes could help. Also martial arts like karate, tae kwon do, or brazilian capoeira are excellent ways to build concentration, focus, and discipline.

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 10:32 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • Talk to his doctor and get a referral to a Psychologist. I am NOT a meds kind of person. I HATE taking pills just to take them.

    MY son has ADHD and Asperger's high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. We tried for 8 years to avoid meds, clearly seeing that there was something different about him. Last year we got his formal diagnosis. After trying behavior modifications that didn't work as well as hoped, I finally bit the bullet and started him on meds last Christmas.

    What. A. Difference! He's on one of the lowest dosages, and he's a totally different kid. Things that would send him into some of the WORST tantrums last year, he's just slightly bothered by this, if he's bothered at all.

    Talk to his doctor. Get that referral. Get him tested. You'll be glad you did. I still hate meds, and want my son off ASAP, but they're helping.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 11:02 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • I have talked to his Dr and she said to just give it a little time because she doesn't want to put him on meds either. I've tried cutting back and then taking away computer time and tv time but that hasn't helped either and tends to make it worse. I just need him to focus better. And I'm not sure what to tell his soccer coach either.

    Comment by Mom2Dano (original poster) at 9:54 AM on Sep. 24, 2013

  • Meds aren't the place to start, but don't close your mind to them entirely. My stepson has ADHD and Asperger's. He's seventeen, and he's been on meds since middle school. I often wonder how much better his educational career would have gone if his parents had dragged themselves out of denial and gottn him help five years sooner than they did.

    Answer by Ballad at 11:34 AM on Sep. 24, 2013