Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/Help with everyday practical tasks



Our six year old son is a wonderful, highly imaginative boy. He's 6 years old and is a very keen reader. He can spend hours reading books in his room. He also likes playing role play games based on the stories he reads. The downside of him being a highly intellectual boy is that he's often so engrossed in his inner world that he can't focus on everyday things and is quite slow at doing them. He needs to be constantly reminded to get dressed, or undressed, eat his meal etc and it takes him ages to get things finished. It's not that he's unable to do it quicker, he can if we are on top of him. But if we are not, he would often stop getting dressed halfway through the process, because he suddenly starts reading a book which happens to be lying around open, or would take only tiny bites of food during meals, to avoid having to stop talking about something that interests him. How could we smartly help him not to get lost in his imagination, and get these things done quicker, without constantly nagging him?

Hello Alex,
Congratulations on having a bright and imaginative child.
Both myself and others have joked that you only get three wishes with any child. For instance, you can have a child who is smart, has a terrific imagination, and loves reading, but you can't get any more wishes. That is, having been granted those three wishes, you don't also get socially adept and quick to respond to doing chores. To say it without joking, you can't have everything with your child.
But, having said that, I can also sympathize since I had a son much like this. Does it cause frustration? Yes. Does it test your patience? Undoubtedly. But is it a serious disorder? No.
Based on my experiences with own son and based on my work with thousands of parents, I would suggest that you always keep things in perspective and remember his great qualities. And you should be patient. Getting upset with him or impatient will not make this better or change his behavior -- it might even make it worse. But what you can do is use praise and attention when he is more readily compliant and when he finishes tasks in a timely manner.   
Finally, what I would strongly recommend is that you rejoice for his many positive traits, ignore the ones that are annoying, and help him as he grows older to recognize and appreciate his strengths. If you can do these things, then when your son becomes an adult, you can look back at how you handled things, and be proud (as I am with my son) that you fostered his abilities rather than making him feel bad for his flaws.
I'd be glad to respond to any other questions you have.

James Windell


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James Windell


I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.


I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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