By Debra Collins, Family therapist
I have a 6-year-old daughter in kindergarten. Thankfully, she is social and outgoing. But I am now experiencing the downside of this, which is that in the last week she has twice been given a behavior mark at school for not listening to the teacher. She went all the way from August to December with no negative behavior marks. On her report card, which I just received, she achieved the highest mark possible on every single item listed.
Her sudden problem with listening at school is troubling me. At home, my husband and I struggle every day to get her to listen. I have found that I have to say something two to three times before she even hears it; she's always busy playing with her younger sister. It's like she has tuned our voices out. Now the same thing seems to be happening at school.
What do you recommend?
I think you may be combining two separate issues. Having a "social and outgoing" temperament does not necessarily result in "not listening" behavior. I think you are on track when you say; "It's like she has tuned our voices out." Repeating instructions over and over to children can be like speaking louder to someone who doesn't speak your language. No matter how loud or how often, the message is stated, it will not be honored if it is incomprehensible to the recipient.
Appropriate listening skills can be learned. Here are some thoughts on how to help your child listen.
A book that you might refer to is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
One benefit of developing better listening skills at home is that your daughter's behavior will generalize to school. It would be important to share what you are doing with her teacher and find ways to collaborate so that your daughter's new skills are being reinforced consistently.