My 6-year-old daughter is constantly being distracted and we are struggling to distinguish if she is not listening due to defiant behavior versus something that she is struggling with that she doesn't have full control over around focus and her mind wandering.

The reason I feel like it may be more than just not wanting to listen to us is that she plays sports and exhibits the same behavior where sometimes it looks like she doesn't realize there is a game going on around her and it looks like her mind is in another place. I know kids get distracted sometimes but this seems like the default behavior versus an exception.

Any suggestions or things to look for to help understand how to deal with this type of behavior and help with focus and attention?

  • 1
    Could be ADD. Could be normal 6 year old. Could be she's bored of the particular sports she plays. It could be a whole range of things. If it's a concern, start talking to some professionals that can maybe steer you in the right direction. Her pediatrician would be a good start.
    – DA01
    Sep 15 '14 at 17:33

Here's a story:

One of my children behaved very differently than all the other ones at the same age. He would simply ignore something you said, as if he hadn't heard it. When we had his ears examined, the doctor said that the ears are OK, but the behavior she sees isn't, and encouraged us to have other tests made. The child was diagnosed with "partial sensorical dysfunctions" and a "partial sensorical integration dysfunction" (whatever that would be in English, this is translated from the German terms). In the end these symptoms placed him somewhere between slightly autistic, distinctly ADHS, and a "normal" child. It was prophesied that between his 4th and 7th birthday he might develop more in the direction of either of those three categories.

For several years we had 6-monthly checks (or more often, if we wanted it) with a team of doctors and psychologists specialized in dealing with such kids. They were regularly conferring with his kindergarten teachers and his doctor. Tests done on him helped us tremendously to understand his strengths and limitations and pedagogical counsel helped us dealing with the effects of those on our daily lives. After several consultations with his kindergarten, he was transfered to a group that was smaller because it integrated several handicapped kids, and had two teachers trained in dealing with them. This was a great improvement over his previous group. Everybody involved suggested therapy rather than medication. An occupational therapy was proscribed with a weekly 45min appointment, which he visited several years. (We had asked around a lot before we chose a practice for the therapy and thought they were very good.) Everybody involved agreed that he made noticeable improvements every year. This was a very important reason for deciding to delay his switch from kindergarten to school by one year, which gave him one more year to catch up.

Nowadays (he's a preteen) when teachers ask why he's a year older than his peers and we explain the trouble he had, they just wonder, and say that he is one of their best pupils, and regularly describe him as highly concentrated(!), enduring, intelligent, and well embedded in his group. And we have yet to meet someone who has worked with him and did not marvel at his creativity. Many agree that his social competence might be achieved through explicit intellectual effort more than through actual social competence, but the results, while not above average, are good enough to give him a very good standing among his peers.

As all of my children, he is totally different from all the others. Of course, his differences show in some areas that fit his earlier diagnosis, and his mother and I see some of that diagnosis still shining though. He is old enough now to know and understand his problems. I tell him that everybody else around him has their problems and limitations, too, and that everybody has to work harder in their problematic areas. With this justification I demand he tries harder when his limitations hinder him, but I try to avoid to chastise him for being who he is.

I have no idea whether he would have turned out as well as he did without the therapy and the other support he got. It might well be, but since you can never go back and try something else, I am glad we did everything we were able to do in order to help him.

Just as all my children, he is the most special of my children. And of course I love him most of all – just as I do with all my children. :)

My conclusion:

I have no idea if there's a problem with your daughter, let alone what it is, if there really is one. But I suggest you do not take this lightly. If you feel that this is areas where your daughter compares inferior to her peers, have your daughter checked. Put as much effort as you can into finding someone who understands what you think seems wrong with her, and someone who can help her to catch up in those areas. Try to get help (counseling) in dealing with her, if you feel overburdened.

And never forget: You have the best child in the world (don't we all?) and love her more than anything else. This is the foundation everything you do for her builds on.

  • My 5 year old daughter is the same way and I thought about having her tested. I think I might ask her pediatrician about this disorder
    – user26023
    Jan 6 '17 at 2:14
  • @Michelle I'd suggest you do that.
    – sbi
    Jan 6 '17 at 11:51

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