13 answers

Daughter Won't Listen to Teacher

I have a 3 year old daughter who is enrolled in Gymnsatics. She has this class once a week and all parents sit in the lobby area during the class. This is my first real experience seeing how she behaves in this type of setting. I have issues getting her to listen at home but just assumed it was her age and kids always try to test their parents from what I have been told. Well after observing I have noticed that my daughter is constantly getting called out in class b/c she is not following instructions or listening to what she is told. I do not believe this is an age issue b/c the other children are the same age and have no issues. She is also in preschool and listens well there with no issues that I am aware of. She really enjoys this class and I cannot for the life of figure out why she will not listen in this environment. I have considered letting her know that I will take her out of the class if the behavior continues but this class is actually a gift from a grandparent. So my question is does anyone have an advice on how to enforce her to her that her behavior is not acceptable? Also should I talk to the instructor about this? I have been hesitant to do this b/c my child is with me and I didn't really want to talk about her in front of her. Thanks!

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My three year old is very willful, and started having increasingly more discipline problems at school. Not biting, hitting or that kind of thing, just old fashioned not listening. Time outs and being sent to the directors office didn't phase her. So at the directors suggestion, we gave them permission to give her a small dose of lemon juice - just a couple drops - when she is misbehaving. It was amazing how quickly it worked! She only had to have one dose to realize that we were serious about the "yucky stuff" and start being more cooperative. It was so effective that we started using it at home, too.

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You are wise. Don't talk about your daughter in front of your daughter. Even at age 3 they pick up too much. Is it possible to talk to the teacher on the phone or sometime apart from your daughter? Does your daughter realize this is a class and not just free time? AF

I would definitely have your daughters hearing checked. It could show that it's not an issue, but it's good to be sure. Good luck.

i think jana the gym teacher makes some good points. i explored some of the gym classes around here with my 2.5 yo and found that she was not ready for the classes without the parent involved. if she's listening at preschool i wouldn't worry too much. could be that she just isn't ready for a class without the parent yet. the gym teacher at one of the classes we tried told me that it was ok that they were constantly chasing and calling for my daughter but i didn't like it her being told no so much. we tried a class where i went around with her and she was much more focused and really enjoyed it. in the end i didn't love any of them so we decided to try when she's a little older and just stick to swim lessons where she's seems to listen to directions much better. sorry for the rambling.

My daughter started gymnastics at 3 also and loved it, still does. But loving it didn't mean she was willing to do everything they asked her to try. Many times I saw her just cross her arms and give the teacher a look and refuse to try something. I did say something to the teacher a couple of times to just be patient with her and the teacher totally agreed and said she's used to that sort of thing. Anyone who teaches 3 year olds should be. Now, at 4, I've seen huge improvements in my daughter's willingness to try and skills she's mastered. And the best part is that she still loves taking classes.

So, my advice is to have a private word with the teacher, who will probably reassure you (and if she doesn't maybe a different teacher would be better). Stick with it as long as your daughter is having fun.

Has your daughter's gymnastics teacher actually made a complaint about her behavior? If not, you might just let her ride out the class. Yet if you would like to be more proactive, discuss your concerns with the gymnastics teacher to see if this does present a problem in her running the class or not. Your daughter's behavior might be related to the level of structure that is implemented in the different settings. It's great that she's following directions at school. School tends to be quite a structured setting with consistent routine. Unless you're running a tight ship, home tends to be a bit more relaxed. As for gymnastics class, I wouldn't really know. Perhaps there are too many other children in there for her to attend closely.

L., I agree with the other person who posted that you might let your daughter "ride out the class," unless it stresses her out to be "called out," as you say, for not paying attention, or unless you really feel she's getting nothing at all from it. It's hard at this age to know whether to make them stick with an activity that's an issue or to remove them from it.

A couple of thoughts:

--Assuming she does follow directions well etc. in preschool (and you might want to touch base with her teacher to be sure she is still doing so these days): Maybe she is just "done" for the day with directions by the time she gets to gymnastics and needs to blow off steam and be active without as much instruction. That could indicate she's not quite ready yet for another directed activity in a preschool day, other than preschool.
--You say she enjoys it, but maybe she's a bit bored with learning the moves and just wants to run around, not be instructed on this or that move or piece of equipment. Again, a factor of age -- she can be great in preschool but not ready for other kinds of instruction. She night need more active playtime rather than a class at this time.
--Opposite problem: She might love it so much that she wants to plunge into the moves and onto the equipment without direction. But of course that means she won't learn and could even get hurt.
--The teacher might not be a great teacher, or might not be the best teacher just for her in this sport. Hard to tell if you're not a gymnast.

I'd talk to the teacher without her if there's any way to do that and also, as you wait for her, have you gotten friendly with any of the other parents? They can be great sounding boards for you: "Have you had this teacher before, what do you suggest we do to get my child to listen better, is this typical," etc.

I think that despite her doing OK with preschool instructions, it may just be that she's not ready for another organized, taught activity outside preschool. I know lots and lots of kids have lots of activities but don't feel pressured to continue this, gift or not, if it's stressful.

I would talk with preschool teacher and make sure she is behaving as well as you think...and ask specific questions. She may be doing wonderfully! But she also may be behaving similarly, but the teacher still says she does good because it isn't as big a deal for her, easy for her to handle? I think 3 years old is young for this type of class, and should really only be offered to children that treat the privilage appropriately. I think it is important to remember, that it is a privilage, and that if she can't respect the teacher during the class...maybe she just isn't ready. Maybe have a talk with the grandparent that gave her the gift, and see if she will talk with her. Maybe hearing from grandma that she got it for her because she felt she was big enough to listen to the teacher might make an impact.

All 3 year olds have struggles in one area or another; my daughter is a free spirit and loves to be chatty,and gets distracted by things because she is disinterested or maybe too smart to keep listening to things over and over and becomes bored...I'm sure all the other girls in your daughter's class are not perfect either...and we tend to take what our kids do to heart more. If her gymnastics teacher doesn't have a problem, then I wouldn't worry about it. It is a little embarrassing as a a mother to have a daughter who seems 'unruly,' but consistency at home will help out and eventually negative reinforcement in class (being called out) will get to her - right now she is a carefree 3 year old that doesn't care what people think, so I guess that is something to be thankful for...but pretty soon it will catch up to her and she will want to impress you and her classmates with how well she is doing in class. Also - does she know you are watching her? Sometimes children act differently if they know you are there....but in any regard, I would have a chat with her to see if she likes the class, and then let her teacher take it from there. She is the one in charge while class is in session, so I would just relax and give myself a break!

My three year old is very willful, and started having increasingly more discipline problems at school. Not biting, hitting or that kind of thing, just old fashioned not listening. Time outs and being sent to the directors office didn't phase her. So at the directors suggestion, we gave them permission to give her a small dose of lemon juice - just a couple drops - when she is misbehaving. It was amazing how quickly it worked! She only had to have one dose to realize that we were serious about the "yucky stuff" and start being more cooperative. It was so effective that we started using it at home, too.

Hi L.,

I coached gymnastics for five years and instructed kids ages 2 - 16 in all levels. I don't think you need to be concerned about your daughter not following instructions to the same degree as the other kids. Every child is different and in this age group this is a range of attention spans. Also if your daughter loves this class she may just be so excited it is hard for her to focus. This happened a lot with the kids I taught ages 3-5. They would be so excited to be at the class it was almost impossible to have them sit still. You could see that they WANT to listen and follow instructions, but the excitement would just be too much! Your daughter's instructor should be used to this and know how to handle it. You can speak to the instructor after classes or leave a message for the teacher to call you at home. She may be able to put your mind at ease that this is completely normal and expected.

Ask the teacher if you can contact her outside of class by email or phone. Can your daughter see you during class? Maybe if she thinks you are not there, she will pay more attention to the teacher. I'm sure you wouldn't actually leave her there since she's only 3, but maybe if you go around a corner where she can't see you, or wait in a lobby?
Good luck!

Hi there,
Have you had your daughter's hearing tested? The acoustics in a gym and the business of a gym class may make it harder for her to hear the instructions in that type of setting than it is in her preschool class. I'm a preschool 3 year old teacher, and I know I try to keep my class very structured, so that the kids actually know what's comin next all the time. Discipline isn't much of an issue when they know what comes next, but in a gymnastics class it won't be so structured. It may just be hard for her to pay attention or even to hear in such an environment.
I don't think she's too young, I think 3 is the perfect age for that type of class. I also agree that if the instructor isn't having a problem with it, it may be something "normal" to him, therefore not an issue.

Good luck with it! Hope it improves!!

How about asking her why she is not listening to the Gym teacher? Maybe she has a hard time in a crowd within a gym that size. Or maybe there is something else she perceives as being wrong or maybe even that since she knows you are there she feels that teacher is not an authority figure that she must listen to. I would simply talk to her on the way home while it's quiet in the car. I'd tell her that I watched her today and noticed how good she was on the _______. Then I'd ask her if she really likes this class. Wait and see what she tells you. Then let her know that something else you noticed was that she was not listening to her teacher like the other children in her class were. Why is that? And wait for her answer. Sometimes, we parents forget that our kids do not come pre-programmed. LOL! We have to teach them how to do what we want them to do, including how to be still and listen to a teacher in a gym class. Don't worry about how silly it may feel just ask her if she knows what mommy wants her to do when the teacher is talking. She'll tell you what she thinks, I'm sure. LOL! If it's correct, praise her up and tell her WOW! You really do know what to do, don't you? Well, then next time I want to see you listen with your ears when the teacher is talking and do exactly what she tells you to do, okay? I would give over the authority to the teacher by saying something like, you know when you are in your gym class, (the teacher) is in charge and she/he is who you are to listen to, right? Let her know the dangers of not listening and doing exactly what the teacher tells you. She could fall and get hurt or maybe even hurt one of her friends. So it's very important to listen to her teacher. I would even go as far as to get to class a little early and have a talk with the teacher and my child together. A very positive approach. I would let the teacher know that you had observed your child not listening as she should have during class last time and that you and your child have had a talk about it and now she is ready to listen like a big girl. And let the teacher know that you have explained to her that she (the teacher) is in charge during class. And if she finds that your child is not listening as she should, she may have to sit her down to watch so that no one gets hurt. Ask your child, "isn't that right?" Then go into how good she looked on the _________ last class.

Your whole goal as parent is not to upset your child but to teach her. And even though this class is a gift, her future depends on her character.

Great job mom! Keep up the good work!

Take Care,
N. :) SAHM homeschooling 3 boys 12, 8 & 2 yrs old and married to my Mr. Wonderful for almost 15yrs. I love to help other moms, who want to become SAHMs, reach that goal! Email me anytime at ____@____.com. (This is not a service.) You deserve a great life!

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