My son was performing a Christmas song at church yesterday. Initially he was performing well but when he saw the digital clock in front of him, he couldn't take his eyes away from it and started reading these numbers aloud.
He also looks at the calendar numbers. Whenever he looks at the calendar, he will only see the numbers.

How can I help him stop getting distracted?

  • 3
    Does he have interest in math beyond paying attention to numbers around him? For example, counting, adding, noticing unusual properties of numbers or shapes? Could he have outstanding math abilities that may be useful to develop, provided they do not negatively affect the rest of his life, as in the example you described. This by itself does not answer your question but it is related and could be important in itself. Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 13:46
  • 2
    Could be autism spectrum.
    – Frank
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 10:16
  • @Frank is there any way to differentiate autism spectrum and maths gifted child?How to divert them from seeing numbers?
    – Nilah
    Commented Sep 3, 2020 at 0:11
  • 1
    @Nilah I used to know a kid who was autistic and super-gifted with numbers. Taught himself advanced maths before he was 6. Learnt to speak English, Japanese and the piano by the time he was 6 (European kid) . Just through numbers and watching number videos. All he ever did was numbers. Drew numbers, watched vids about numbers. Put numbers on the piano etc etc. There were a million things that differentiated this kid. He'd wander off and just get on random buses to nowhere if the parents didn't notice. Didn't communicate. Etc etc. Him being autistic was as obvious as a slap in the face.
    – Frank
    Commented Sep 3, 2020 at 8:32

1 Answer 1


It is possible that your son is gifted in math. You may want to discuss this with his preschool teacher. If that's the case, it is an ability that can be developed to the child's advantage, rather than treated as a problem. Note that gifted kids are often bored by tasks that do not challenge their abilities. So when your son is diverting his attention, the root cause may include a gift in something, not just a deficiency in focus.

Compare your child's math abilities and interest in numbers to that of his peers (for your own guidance). For example, according to the CDC, the milestones for 4 year olds include these, which suggests that your son is ahead of most peers:

Names some colors and some numbers.
Understands the idea of counting.


How to keep the child focussed on the job? I recommend reading about and discussing with your son's teacher and/or pediatrician teaching self-control. This is an active area of research. See, for example, this post:

Gwen Dewar: Teaching self-control: Evidence-based tips: https://www.parentingscience.com/teaching-self-control.html

In brief:

  • Remove the distractions. If the child needs to focus on singing, have him face away from the clock with the numbers that he finds distracting.
  • Reward self-control. Praise the child consistently when he keeps focussed on the task. Praise is usually more effective than punishment.
  • Play games that teach self-control. For example, "Red light, Green light", "Simon Says", "The Freeze Game", especially with reversing the clues.


Play games that help preschoolers practice self-control

The game sessions featured the modified version of “Red Light, Green Light” and other games designed to give kids a self-regulation workout:

  • The Freeze game. Kids dance when the music plays and freeze when it stops. Dance quickly for fast-tempo songs, slowly for slow-tempo songs. And then reverse the cues: Fast music = slow dancing. Slow music = fast dancing.

  • Color-matching freeze. In this variant of the freeze game, kids don’t just stop dancing when the music stops. First, they find a colored mat and stand on it. Then, before they freeze, they perform a special dance step. There are several, differently-colored mats on the floor, and each color is linked with a different dance step.

  • Conducting an orchestra. Kids play musical instruments (like maracas and bells) whenever an adult waves her baton, increasing their tempo when the baton moves quickly and reducing their tempo when the baton slows down. Then the opposite rules apply (e.g., kids play faster when the baton moves slowly).

  • Drum beats. A teacher tells kids to respond to different drum cues with specific body movements. For example, kids might hop when they hear a fast drum beat and crawl when they hear a slow drum beat. After a time, kids are asked to reverse the cues.

The kids played these games twice weekly is sessions of thirty minutes each, and after eight weeks, the researchers re-assessed the children's self-regulation abilities. Kids who began the program with above-average self-control showed no improvements, but the story was different for children who had been struggling. Preschoolers who started with low self-regulation scores (below the 50th percentile) had gotten better.


At what age should a child be able to count to 10?
Kid genius help

  • 1
    I'd buy an abacus. Nothing helps you visualise place value and addition like an abacus. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 13:21

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