You’ve probably noticed that your child has a very selective sense of hearing. Ask him to put away his toys or get ready for bed, and he’ll most likely turn a deaf ear. But whisper about the possibility of going to the toy store, and he’ll hear you from a mile away.
Some children, though, have more serious listening problems. They consistently tune out their parents and other adults, and have a hard time paying attention and remembering what they hear. This may be due to a hearing problem or a learning disability. Alternatively, these children may just need extra help learning how to be good listeners.
If you’re worried about your child, speak to his teacher. “Because the teacher sees your child in a variety of situations at school and can compare your child’s progress to that of other children, she’s in a good position to notice any potential problems,” says Eve Stabinsky-Ackert, an early childhood education specialist in Monroe, Conn.
Early warning signs of a listening problem
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities and early education specialists, your child may have a problem listening if he:
- Consistently misses directions and needs them repeated
- Doesn’t seem to hear you the first time
- Has a hard time paying attention when you talk to him
- Is consistently forgetting things or claims, “I can’t remember”
- Can’t follow more than one direction at a time
- Is easily distracted and/or extremely restless
- Doesn’t like to be read to
If your child is having trouble listening, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has a learning disability. That’s why it’s important to call his teacher if you have concerns. His teacher may recommend other activities, which can range from giving him more listening practice at home to talking to a learning specialist.