4 Year Old... Can't focus...hyper...

Updated on September 11, 2010
J.P. asks from Maricopa, AZ
12 answers

My four year old is a very HYPER kid. It seems like he can't focus. ( he can, just seems hard for him to do). He gets frustrated easily when we are practicing pre-school activities. He knows his ABC's and can count to ten but when I ask him he does it wrong. He told me the other day it keeps changing in his head... Is this norma or should I be worried? Also, when I try to talk to him on a serious level, he cannot sit still a lot of the time. He is always on the go. Is this a normal crazy 4 year old? Anyone have suggestions?

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answers from San Francisco on

He's probably just a very active kid and isn't particularly interested in his ABC's and numbers right now. That's what Kindergarten is for, and he's still a year away from that.

Advice from experience: don't push this right now, unless you want to make learning a negative experience. Focus on what he's good at, and have him do that. Let his teachers teach him.

There is nothing wrong with active kids! Put him in sports! He will probably excel at them.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Columbus on

I have a big, tough question for you Mom!

Why did you write two different posts about the same boy (unless you have twins) about different areas of development? You should probably not be asking us anymore, but should be putting two and two together, and getting some evaluation done since you are clearly worried about his development, and when any child has more than one area of concen, you should not leave that to any type of chance whatsoever. Development is simpley to important. Smart has nothing to do with processing issues, hyperactivity, or speech and langauge delays. While there is not enough information here in your post to suggest anything to you other than this could be a totally typical four year old, in my Old lady, educational advocate experience, I have this HUGE hunch that you need to take this child for a direct observation from someone who can give you some real answers based on data, not speculation. Two flags, do not pass go, get someone who really knows what is typical (a professional) to advise you. Never, never wait and see with development, and if you have more than one area of concern, do not delay.

When you write to the school distirict, like I suggested in my last post to you, just say that you are requesting an evaluation becasue you suspect that your child has a disablity, and leave it at that. That is the language that triggers a publicly funded evaluation. Write, don't call. Mail it today.


Don't mean to poo poo any one, but get a professional to advise you on what to do for this situation, and if they tell you it is just what you are feeding your child, then go for it. Never heard of that happening to a child with a true developmental issue though, so be aware that you have reason to get a professional to tell you what you need to do here. This is not were you should be getting treatment advice, but advice that says you need better advice, up close and personal and with standardized data behind it, to tell you what treatment and intervention your son may need.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

He sounds a lot like my 4.5 year old son. He is very active too but I don't think quite meets the ADHD diagnosis criteria (I worked with many ADHD kids in a past job). My son is similar in terms of academics--he counts to 10 or 12 but mixes up numbers between 10 and 20 (I know I could count to 100 before kindergarten myself). He recognizes his letters and his name in print but isn't otherwise close to reading. Then again he has 2 full years before he is in 1st grade. If you can put your son in preschool/preK or some group activities you may be able to get a better sense of how he is compared to peers. My only other suggestion is make sure he is on a good sleep schedule. My son is terrible when overtired--much more hyper and much less self control.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Martha has given excellent advice below. Don't blow off your concerns. The fact that he says things keep changing in his head is a "help me" red flag. Our son has ADHD and told me without medication he feels like he can't control his body. It must be quite terrifying to be a young child and have these feelings. It made me tear up when our son explained what it was like living with his condition.

Get your child in for an evaluation. Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a specialist who can make a proper diagnosis, if one is needed. You may learn your son is completely normal and get the reassurance you need. However, if you son needs help, you can get it for him early and give him the best possible start in his school years.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Can you put him in a sport like soccer or swimming at the Y? Maybe Tae kwon Do? He needs to get his energy out.
Take out the refined sugars, that's easy to say the month before Halloween.
No soda
Consistent bedtime routine, maybe bath, teeth, story, lights out
You just said in another post that you are going through a divorce. Children handle stress much differently than adults. If these are new behaviors it could be the stress of who gets me now, where is Daddy, will mommy always be there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

If he's bored by the school activities, you could try making it more fun. Like counting candy or toy cars or whatever he's interested in. Or draw the alphabet with sidewalk chalk and jump from letter to letter.
If you're going to have him evaluated, then definitely mention this as another area of concern. Does he get more hyper or less hyper when he's around other kids? Has he ever been able to sit still for a storytime group or a music circle?
When I had my son evaluated , they did not test his behavior around other kids, so he only qualified for a speech program. Then when he could not sit still in the group, they tried having him hold a ball of sticky tape or sit on a beanbag chair. When that didn't solve the problem they moved him to a pre-k class to work on everything.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

At least in my experience, this is fairly typical. One of my daughters was abnormally focused at that age (it's like she was born 45 years old LOL). But my other one was exactly like you describe, totally hyper and bouncing off the walls all the time. My nephew was that way too. All of them have since gone on to be able to focus in school just fine. Four year olds are pretty hyper and easily distracted. Try not to worry! I think it's a sign of a healthy child when they are so active and interested in everything around them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Flagstaff on

Hyperactivity is way overdiagnosed. Believe me, alot of it can be what he is eating or drinking (i.e. sugar, soda, etc.), but mostly that is just normal 4 year old behavior. He is not ready for school activities at all. Most kids are put into a school environment way too early anyway. Physically, kids are made to be on the go. Their attention spans are alot shorter than we would like them to be. They can be trained to sit quietly for short (30 min to 1 hour) periods of time but don't expect them to be focused on one thing the entire time. Also, severely limit any television time to maybe 1 half hour in one day as this can also contribute to lack of focus. Otherwise unless you are really concerned, I would just look at him as a normal 4 year old, be patient, and let him be active. Give him boundaries but don't push him to grow up and be ready for school this year or even next. He needs the physical activity to be healthy. I have three boys, 5 and 3 and I tend to forget this aspect sometimes too!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

Sounds normal for a boy his age. You may, however, want to strictly limit his refined sugar and carb intake. Believe it or not, those 2 can greatly increase the areas in which you're describing. I know it's hard to get kids to eat, but try to keep him on as much of a green leafy veggie, chicken &/or fish (NOT the processed--REAL) and limited red meat diet. Also, no koolaids or drink mixes like that. Try this for a few days...I'm sure you'll notice a world of difference.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Perfectly normal in a 4 year old boy. they are very energetic. You would be surprised what the normal activity for a boy is considered. I grew up w/ all girls in my family so boys were new to me. I was very concerned w/ my oldest so I filled our all the screening forms for adhd at the pediatrician's office and although he scored high on them he was still in the normal range for a boy. Try putting him in some sort of sport or other activity where he can safely get some of that energy out. My oldest does his abc's an numbers wrong if you ask him to do them but if you walk out of the room and he is playing you can hear naming off letters and he counts to 20 correctly. Part of doing it wrong is for the attention it gets them.



answers from Phoenix on

My son was all of what you described in both of your posts about hyperactivity and language. I had him evaluated by a private psychologist and she misdiagnosed him as having ADHD and wanted to put him on medication. I did not believe in drugging a 5 year old so I pursued outside therapy. When I took him to an OT (occupational therapist) she said that she thought that he had Convergence Insufficiency and wanted me to go see a Behavioral Optometrist. We did and found that she was correct. He had perfect 20/20 vision but when he looked at something close up, the words on the page moved and he had double vision. This is why he avoided close up school type work like coloring, flash cards, etc. He spent 6 months in vision therapy and all of his problems were solved. He went from the bottom of his Kindergarten class to the top of the class in a very difficult college prep school. He even received an award for being a top notch student both academically and behaviorally. Please take your son to see a Behavioral Optometrist and have his vision tested, both far and near. You can find a doctor that tests for both and does Vision Therapy at www.covd.org or www.oepf.org. I cannot stress how much of a difference it made with my son. It was like night and day. I highly recommend it! If you have any questions or concerns, please send me a private note. Best of luck!



answers from Boca Raton on

My almost 4 year old son is the SAME WAY.. And I was wondering the SAME thing.....He knows his abc's but jumbles them sometimes.. He can count to 23 but never wants to.. He can't really recognize letters yet and when I try to sit him down to do ANY SORT OF LEARNING PROJECTS, he refuses and runs away...Sometimes I think it's just me and him not wanting to do it for me.. I "think" at school he's more open to doing it because the other kids are.. I don't compare him to my friends kids "but" my friends kids "like" to learn and it makes me wonder about my son~

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