39 answers

My 4 Year Old Son Can't Focus

My 4 year old son has trouble focusing many times. He is quite hyper, as am I, however I can't get him to just look at me. Sometimes I can call his name many times and he either never answers or it takes a while. I know he hears me. I've asked him, did you not hear me or were you ignoring me.... he has said ignoring me. I have insisted he answer me so now he says "OK" to whatever I tell him but has no idea what I've said. I think he has trouble concentrating and focusing. Any suggestions on excercising his focus?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for your many responses! I appreciate it. I have been spending more one on one time with my son, playing games, putting puzzles together, talking, etc. I am trying to stop my busy day to get down on his level and listen and / or simply explain things. I have noticed a change already. Unfortunately, when I have been most frustrated, I yell. Soooo there has been less yelling. Instead I have used a firm voice and am letting the timeout stool be the bad guy. My mom even commented that she received great eye contact from him recently and that rarely happened before. So I think we're on the right track. Thanks again everyone for your thoughts!

Featured Answers

Hi, I would get him evaluated by a psychologist. He could be ignoring you but may have a processing problem. It would be good to catch it before he starts school.

D. H.

It sounds JUST like my 4 year old son (4 on 6-1.) We had him assesed and they told us he has all the signs of ADHD. We are trying to digest the whole thing. I am hoping he will grow out of it but I am educating myself on it just in case he does not. My e-mail is ____@____.com if you want to talk about it more.


I have 2 nephews w/similar issues. Coffee has helped with the one that is the worst. I tried helping out with the chocolate covered espresso beans - because he doesn't like the coffee. The beans are quicker and overwith a lot easier. He had had a lot of trouble at school and when he takes his beans/or has coffee, he's able to focus better & keep himself more on task. He's very bright but just has trouble remembering what was just instructed to him regardless of who is instructing him. The beans and/or coffee have really helped. It takes the regimen and regularity though. Sometimes my sister doesn't make him take them and he has a bad day at school - it is hard to say he is in trouble when he doesn't seem to be trying to be bad you know? I know when it is regularly done, it works regularly. Coffee seems to have the adverse reaction for someone who is hyperactive and potentially attention deficit disorder. Without, he will start to go brush his teeth as instructed, and then walk back and ask, what was I suppose to do? I hope this all helps you too! The beans can be like candy. I have gotten them at Trader Joe's.

More Answers

Dear L.,

I so understand what you are going through and wonder if you've looked into your son's diet (what he is eating). Sugar and even different food combinations can truly make a difference in a child's behavior. But, please also remember that kids are ALIVE and have feelings and spirit and do not deserve to be labeled or medicated. I definitely know from experience that medications just make our kids act out more and that, in fact, there are many natural solutions that can actually help with what your son is going through.

I'd recommend checking out 3 organizations for more information on why going the natural route is best for you and your son:

Hope this helps! Please free to call me anytime: (323) 906~2784.

L. (Mama to 20 week old Dylan Orion) : )))

one thing you might want to consider is his diet. food sensitivities and allergies can cause lack of focus, restlessness, etc. there is an interesting book called "is this your child?" by Doris Rapp that discusses how diet, sensitivities to environment and chemicals, etc can cause changes in behavior. i read parts of the book, it's interesting, but a mom can go nuts worrying about every little thing, so what i've found is to just do little things that make life more healthy, cutting down on processed sugar, junk food, eating more healthy food, drinking water more than juice, and creating more balance like less tv, computer, video games, and limiting exposure to those things and spending time out to get fresh air and sunshine. i think these days with our lifestyles and technology, we lose a natural balance. little changes too, like incorporating organic foods and fabrics and natural cleaners i think helps too. no parent is perfect and we can't keep our kids being exposed to everything, but balance is key. sometimes we have junk food and watch tv, but i realize my kids are much different and calmer when they are living more with things that nurture their bodies, minds, and attention spans!

good luck!


Dear L.,

Alright now, just calm down. He is only four and doesn't focus well. Give him a break and stop hasseling him. If you want him to answer you, then go to him and tap him on the shoulder or get in front of him. Then just talk to him calmly and friendly like. He will cooperate more easily when you do that. You know, he isn't in the Army, he is a small child. Give him a break.

You need to take him to the doctor and quiz him or her about autistic behavior. You can look up the autism website. It doesn't have to be a life threatening experience if you have a child with autism . It is just something that we have to know in order to communicate with the child in a way that fits the unique person that the child is.

Autism, or any other condition doesn't have to be totally debilitating. It can be anywhere from almost unnoticeable to, well much worse.

No, he may not be autistic, but it is better to check it out, you may be told some other condition or that it is just that he is a four year old and has lots of stuff on his mind that he is learning or paying attention to.

Be not afraid, just investigate, and be calm,
C. N.

Have you looked into having him tested for some sort of attention deficit disorder? You wouldn't necessarily need medication for that, but I think knowing what you're up against could help you deal with it. Also, he could just be telling you he's ignoring you without really knowing what that means. Maybe he doesn't hear you, maybe he's really distracted. In either case, you should have him tested so that you know what it is you're truly dealing with.

If you are allowng hm to watch television to much this will cause major attention spam problems! Childre3n this age should be in a house where the T.V is on no more than two hours a day, this includes television for the entire family. Studies show that homes with out a T.V going produces much brighter and focused children. My son and I both are high energy, use it to go out side and run with him, play at the park etc. diet is also one of the most important issues with a high energy child. You are going to have to make a true effort if you want this to change. Also if he is not looking at you stand right in front of him and say" Look at me when I am talking, if he does not GENTLELY take his face and hold it up to your face and talk to him.

HI L.,
I have a 9 year old Grandson...for years he had the same problem....turns out he's ADHD (attention deficite with hyperactivity disorder). You need to take your son in and have a specialist test him....then he'll probably also need to get on medication. Ever since my grandson's been on medication with visits to the psychologist...he's been much, much better and even gets very good grades in school. Hope this helps you.


I also am a stay at home mom to two little boys, and your situation sounds very similar to my own experience a few years ago. I am also a high energy person, and I come from a really academic family ( I was labeled gifted at 5 ). My youngest was very distractable and difficult to get to focus on non-preffered activities. Call your school district and get an evaluation. There are so many great programs to help you get your little guy prepared for Pre K/Kindergarten...but DO NOT delay. Act now. I know it may seem drastic to go this route, but you will be so relieved when you can get professional assesments done and get asistance and guidance. I wish you and your son all the best.

I highly suggest you get him allergy tested IGG, IGE. Also, you must consider autism. I have twins, one of whom is autistic. I suggest you get him evaluated. A DAN (DEFEAT AUTISM NOW) doctor can get the blood test done. We found our daughter was severely allergic to eggs, milk, beef, etc. It seems scary but you need to look into this. Changing his diet could do wonders.

The scratch test is not nearly as accurate as the blood test (IGG, IGE), We see Dr. Marty Carlson Marty Carlson <____@____.com> who got the tests going (your pediatrician will most likely not suggest or administer this). He is calm, wonderful and we just love him. He is located in Murrieta off of Hancock.

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