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My Toddler Has Selective Hearing When It Comes To Me… What About Yours?

Posted: June 9, 2021

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You would think your child would listen when you raise your voice, but it turns out they have a louder voice, a care-two-hoots attitude, and let’s not forget the tantrums.

Story of just another day at our house.

It’s around 8pm and I am busy cooking in the kitchen. My son Aarav is playing outside in the living room (speakers on, toys scattered). The bell rings… and the husband enters.

Can’t hear you, mom!

After the initial father son hugs and kisses we all decide to eat. Being the feminist that I am I usually ask Aarav to do basic chores in the house. It’s a different thing that he suddenly “gets too tired” when asked to do anything and has all the possible excuses.

I call out to Aarav from the kitchen as I wanted him to take the plates out.

Me- Aarav
No response
Me- Aarav come here
No response again
Me- Aarav take these plates out please come
No response
Me- Aarav I am calling you..can you hear me
No response (he hasn’t even moved or turned around)
Me- Repeating the same like another 10 times (thats what we moms generally do on a day to day basis to get any work done).

Enter the husband, into this fray

All this while he is busy playing unperturbed, the music is blaring in the background… The husband decides to finally get in the picture sensing that the wife’s gonna lose it soon (else he could suffer some side effects too).

The husband – Can’t you hear your mumma? She’s been calling out to you so many times!
Aarav – (With a straight look on his face and without batting an eyelid) No I can’t hear her.
The husband – Really you can’t hear her?
Aarav – No I can’t.

I finally give up and get the plates myself. I join them in the living room and get into a conversation with the husband.

After a few repeated sentences and an inability to hear each other inspite of sitting like one foot away, we realise we can’t have any conversation because of the loud music blaring in the background, which is again some song from the 70s because of my son’s obsession for FM nowadays.

We ask him to reduce the volume (like 5 times at least), which again goes on deaf ears. The husband finally gets up and does it himself (that’s what parents eventually do). We start our conversation again..

All this while Aarav has been skating around the house (on our feet too… a discussion of how much that hurts we’ll leave for another day).

He comes and increases the volume again. He skates out of the room and I reduce the volume. He comes and increases in again. This goes on for like another 10 mins after which the husband decides to get up and intervene again..

The husband – Why are you increasing the volume? We can’t talk. Keep it low.
Aarav- I can’t hear the song, I want to keep it high.
The husband – You can’t hear the song too?
Aarav – No I can’t (again with a straight serious face).
The husband now gettin increasingly frustrated, reduces the volume again and makes Aarav stand 10 feet away.
The husband – Can you hear now?
Aarav – No I can’t.
The husband – (Now holds his hand and makes him stand 5 feet away) Can you hear now?
Aarav – No I can’t.

While he is busy staring at Aarav with increasing anger and stress (wondering if he is actually saying the truth), Aarav runs to the speaker, holds his ear against the speaker and exclaims, “Now I can hear well!”

Can he really not hear? A worry

As I’m laughing in the background looking at all this (thinking in my head that finally the husband gets a taste of what I experience everyday), he asks, “What is so funny? Why are you laughing? (Now he’s visibly stressed and angry) Don’t you think he actually could have a hearing problem?

And suddenly I start thinking too… and the stress gets transferred to me. What if? (Then I shrug if off knowing my child’s selective listening habits). But my husband insists that I get it checked the next day, just to be on the safe side. We both go to bed a little worried, thinking about the worst, and hoping for the best.

The next day I take an appointment with the doctor for an audiometry test –  in layman words, a hearing test. When Aarav comes from school, I ask him to get ready as we have to go to the doctor.

Aarav – I’ll get ready after 5 minutes (5 minutes in toddler terms could be 15 mins/one hour/one day or eternity- can’t really say how long)
Me – Please get ready
No reaction again

Finally after various repetitions I speak in my ‘mom’s voice’ (that’s at a really high decibel, am sure my neighbours can hear it but they are nice people and have kids themselves so they don’t think I am insane).

You would think your child would listen when you raise your voice, but it turns out they have a louder voice, a care-two-hoots attitude, and let’s not forget the tantrums.

But I can hear!

Aarav- Why are we going to the doctor? I don’t wanna go.
Me – To get your ears checked since you said you can’t hear well
Aarav – I did not say that…I can hear well!
Me – You said yesterday when we asked you to reduce the volume.
Aarav – I can hear… I can hear…
Me – Then why did you say you can’t yesterday?
Aarav – I like listening to loud music na, and I don’t like you and papa talking when I am listening to music.
Me- (thinking, why am I not surprised but let me still take him. No harm getting a test done, better safe than sorry)
Me – We have to go; please get ready.

After lot of tantrums he finally gets ready. We go to the hospital, get the test done..

Apparently his hearing is perfect and as per normal standards. I personally feel it’s a little ‘better’ than normal as he can hear sentences that contain the words – ice cream, chocolate, mall – even when they are whispered. I call the husband and tell him. He’s relieved, he’s happy. I am happy. Aarav is always happy!

All’s well that ends well

The husband – Asking me later- Why do you think he said he can’t hear? Any specific reason?
Me – I don’t know…

But actually I do know. My child suffers from a condition that I would call as selective listening in toddlers where they only respond to sentences and words that are beneficial or of interest to them in some way. For e.g. words like ice cream, toys, surprises, holidays, gifts… I just think it isn’t medically proven yet!

Most parents in the world know of this specific condition in toddlers. Unless your child is an angel who listens to everything you say and does as told. In that case, please contact me asap! I need tips.

Image source: MiguelRPerez on pixabay

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