When was the last time you realized your little one probably had a concentration span of a minute or two if not less? Possibly very recently! But before you start worrying, let us assure you that most kids struggle with issues related to concentration at some point in their lives. Experts believe that it could be because sometimes children require using multiple levels of functions like hearing, talking, watching, interacting etc. at the same point of time and this leads to the child losing focus (Imagine a situation where your child is trying to write while in class and her friend starts nudging her for attention, or the teacher is speaking to another child, or someone walks down the corridor in high heels. With so many stimuli in her background losing concentration on the work at hand is really no wonder!) Many a times, a loss of concentration can also be caused when she is over stimulated, over exhausted or over-loaded. Moreover, different activities demand different attention spans and the tender mind has yet to learn to master this difference. But this does not mean that concentration can’t be learnt or worked upon. We bring you tried and tested tips from experts to boost your kid’s attention.
- Attend to their physiological needs
Sleep patterns and food intake, especially sugar and protein consumption, play a vital role in determining the concentration power of children and teenagers. Dopamine levels which positively impact concentration are enhanced by good eating habits and sleeping practices. Make sure children eat healthy (less junk, refined foods and sugar) and get ample sleep and exercise to add value to their concentration skill. Ever tried making a tired, hungry child do maths sums?
2. Attend to their psychological needs
Along with physical health, mentally too a child needs to feel uncluttered and relaxed to be able to concentrate well. Any moment when you notice that your child is unable to focus on a particular task or isn’t listening while you are talking, or is feeling low, try and delve a little deeper to figure out if there is something that is bothering her. Any small issue can lead to a struggle in the mind, which then directly affects concentration. Addressing such issues with your child will help her learn to focus on the task at hand.
3. Encourage sequencing and organizing activities
There is a strong and positive connection between sequencing and concentration. Daily activities at home like putting things in order, arranging book shelves, setting the table etc. are good for kids who struggle with concentration. On a regular day at home, engage your child in household sequencing chores. This will help her apply her mind in the processing of these chores, learning to start and complete a chore till its end. Think of it like a training session for the mind. With regular exposure to sequencing activities, when on ground zero (studies or art work etc.), her mind will by default know how to start, process and complete the task at hand.
4. Divide lengthy tasks into shorter ones
Break up a task into smaller bits for your kid until she sequences them perfectly. Remember young children can’t remember long instructions. . For eg: Telling her to lay the table, and put out spoons and plates and glasses and bowls and mats will confuse her terribly and the chances of her becoming frustrated at her inability to do the task perfectly are high. Instead, tell her to first lay the mats. Once done, she can check with you on the next step. Tell her to collect six plates, and lay each plate on one mat. And so on. Then gradually you can increase the number of instructions and make her ease into the task set. By the end of two or three sessions, your child would not only have mastered the art of starting and completing the task but also feel self motivated and responsible.
5. Activity time with your child
The most interesting way to improve your child’s concentration is to engage her in games. Spending time together on a board game that she enjoys playing will help boost her concentration playfully and with no extra pressure on her. Almost any board game (make sure you choose one that is age-appropriate) enhances attention skill of children.
But like any other parenting issue, this too requires commitment and patience from your end. Also take into consideration your child’s interest areas to be able to determine her commitment and hence concentration to any task. Also, every child concentrates at different spans and while we all aim at improving it let comparison not be a stick to measure.