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Need advice about my 4 year old, please!

I have a 4 yr old little girl. She seems to have a hard time focusing one any one task. She gets distracted very easily. I have to be VERY specific if I want her to accomplish any kind of a task. Whenever we do anything, even going to the bathroom in public restrooms, it takes her foooooreeeeeever to go, wash hands, dry hands and get out.
When she clears the table dishes, she will take one dish to the sink, then gets lost in something else, and completely forgets her task of cleaning the other dishes off. I have to constantly be on top of her to finish anything. Her attention is at the most, 20 minutes for any acitivity.
Am I simply forgetting how 4 yr olds are, (my DS is 7) or is her behavior a bit extreme. It is VERY frustrating for me, and my patience is at it's breaking point. I feel like a horrible mother for getting so frustrated with her, especially if the case is I am forgetting how 4yr olds truly are!! Thanks.

Answer Question

Asked by sahmamax2 at 6:53 PM on Feb. 28, 2010 in General Parenting

Level 37 (88,208 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • This is just how 4 year olds are I think that at 4 their true attention span is 10 minutes beyond that is great. Eventually it will get easier but at 4 her brain is going and going and her mind will wander all the time. Just take a breath and remember she won't always be this small, and that is sad and good at the same time. Appreciate her for the stage she is in kids grow up fast.

    Answer by truealaskanmom at 7:02 PM on Feb. 28, 2010

  • THank you for your reply. I totally hear ya on enjoying her being small...they DO grow so fast, and that is something that makes me very sad:( My ds was never quite as "distractable" as she is, so this is something new to me. I just don't know if it's considered "normal" or not.
    I assume it is, but I wanted to get others opinions and experiences. Sometimes it's just better knowing we aren't alone.

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 7:06 PM on Feb. 28, 2010

  • Four year-olds do not typically have long attention spans - 20 minutes is normal for that age group. She just needs you to help her remember what she was doing. For example, when she is clearing her dishes, make it a game so that she will stay with the task at hand. Race her to the sink with non-breakable items; say "I bet you can't get ALL your dishes in the sink before I can!" In other tasks, take her back to what she was doing before if her mind begins to wander and think of a way to make it more interesting. Her behavior seems to be quite normal for her age, so don't worry about it too much, k?

    Answer by neebug3766 at 7:09 PM on Feb. 28, 2010

  • Sounds like normal 4 year old behavior to me. 20 min is about the max attention span for any toddler, it is annoying but it's only temporary.

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:16 PM on Feb. 28, 2010

  • I agree with the other answers- I think it's pretty normal. Frustrating for sure, but normal. My 4 year old doesn't have too much of an attention span either! The sad thing is, I think my 12 year old step-daughter's attention span is LESS than 20 minutes!! LOL! Maybe I should be worried! :o)

    Answer by winkie_pinkie at 7:38 PM on Feb. 28, 2010

  • I don't agree with the others that it's completely normal. I have 3 girls - 8, almost 7, and almost 5 - and my older 2 were NOT this way - but my 3rd is horrible! I don't even get 20 minutes attention unless she's tired and not feeling well - and then it's just to watch a movie. I honestly believe my child may have suffered some damage though a couple of years ago when she was really sick and had some weird stuff going on. Not saying there's anythign wrong with your daughter, but I'm asking our doctor about it at her 5year checkup, and I'm going to ask to see a neurologist to have some tests done - because for US, for MY kids, how MY 4yo acts is NOT normal - and how you describe your dd is just like mine (with a few extra things thrown in for my DD).

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:34 PM on Feb. 28, 2010

  • Not all children develop at the same rate. Some can easily follow directions, some are more detail oriented, some just don't want to be bothered with it because there are more interesting things to them. When it comes to kids there is no such thing as normal.

    Answer by motherofhope98 at 8:32 AM on Mar. 1, 2010

  • It sounds pretty normal to me. I can tell, something that REALLY helped my first learn to focus on things more was pre-school when he was 4.

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:58 AM on Mar. 1, 2010

  • Seems like a totally normal 4 year old to me mom, enjoy that toddler stage and don't put those expectations too high, patience mom!

    Answer by older at 8:20 PM on Mar. 1, 2010

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