The ability to pay attention to a task and maintain it is referred to as attention. Motivation, self-esteem, sensory integration, practice, linguistic challenges, and any existing diagnosis can all influence this. When we pay attention, we concentrate on one item at a time and disregard distractions that vie for our attention.
The capacity to pay attention is crucial for a child's growth because it allows them to stay focused on projects long enough to master new abilities. According to childhood development specialists, a child's attention span should be between two and three minutes every year. That's the amount of time an average child can concentrate on a single task.
Often, we hear parents say, "I just can't get a child to sit down, concentrate and work on an activity for 5 minutes! Can you suggest activities to build attention span?". But, before we answer that question, take a moment to reflect on the following questions:
Does your child lack interest in activities that you choose for them?
Do you notice that they are easily distracted?
Do you catch them daydreaming while doing an activity?
Does your child have a tough time sitting through an activity?
Children and adults function differently. Children are energetic, curious, full of energy, and may find it challenging to sit through tasks like adults. But, on the other hand, curiosity makes them want something more interesting every time. Below are a few tips to keep in mind.
Understand your child
Is your child sleeping enough? Lack of sleep, irregular sleep cycles, disruption in sleep patterns can cause difficulties with concentration. Toddlers need 11-14 hours of sleep, Pre-schoolers need 10-13 hours, School-age kids need 9-11 hours of sleep. Make sure your child has a healthy sleep cycle and is well rested to start a fresh day
Healthy eating and exercise
Include fruits and vegetables that are healthy for your brain in your child's" diet. Stretching, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and good food can help improve memory, concentration, and brain function.
What mood does your child wake up with? How does it change throughout the day? When is your child most active/calm and eager to learn? Answers to these questions will help you pick the task/activity and the best time to carry them out.
Identify what triggers distraction or discomfort in your child. It could be the chair they sit in, the lighting of the room, their sitting posture, etc. Modify or get rid of these triggers to make the activities more comfortable.
Mode of learning
Each child has a mode of learning. Identify the mode through which your child learns best. It could be auditory, visual, reading, kinaesthetic. Your child may have a combination of these modes too.
Likes and dislikes
Observe your child and understand their likes and dislikes regarding food, games, clothing, etc. They will always pay attention to activities of their interest.
Make Environmental Modifications
The environment must be distraction-free, calm, and comfortable for your child to be involved in the activity.
Keep your electronic devices away if you don't require them for the activity.
Reduce your child's screen time. Push yourself to do so and lead by example.
Make sure that the room is quiet and free from unwanted noise as it could be a distraction.
The room must have sufficient lighting. The room must not be too bright or dim; adjust the lighting based on your child's preference.
Keep everything required for a particular activity in place. For example, running to and fro to bring items during the training may break the flow and cause distraction.
Set a routine
Making a schedule can often give your child clarity about how their day will go. Looking at the timetable keeps them aware, informed, and provides them a sense of control over their day. Use pictures and stickers to make their schedule visually appealing and exciting.
If your child finds it difficult to concentrate on an activity for a long duration, break them up into smaller activities.
Appreciate and reward your child. Don't let their efforts go unnoticed. It is important for them to feel accomplished and stay motivated to continue performing tasks/activities.
Include a "Me time" in your child's schedule. Then, allow them to spend that time doing whatever they want, including sleep/daydream.
Choose appropriate activities.
Start simple and choose activities that your child enjoys. You can then build up complexity and introduce new activities.
Set achievable goals based on their mood, liking, etc.
Pick/Modify activities according to your child's mode of learning.
Please include your child in chores like gardening, cooking, clearing up their toys, etc.
Make it fun and engaging for your child.
Some children will have a more challenging time paying attention than others. Parents may require assistance from a teacher, pediatrician, or even a psychologist if their child has attention problems that are difficult to cure with simple measures. If you have tried all the above tips and yet feel that the child is struggling, you could reach out to a professional for help.
We hope that you've found these tips helpful. Also, check out our article that lists 16 activities to boost attention and concentration in your child.
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