We live in a world of distraction. Technology is everywhere, and our smartphones are essentially an extension of our hands.
In this rapidly changing world, our attention spans have gradually decreased — these days the average person’s attention span is about eight seconds. And even more important than that, it can be difficult for us to stay on task for more than 20 minutes at a time.
It’s hard enough to live in this world of distraction as adults. But imagine dealing with it as a child!
And yet remaining attentive and on task is an important part of a child’s learning and development. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your child stay focused amidst distraction.
Let’s take a look at a few.
Maintain focus by eating a good breakfast
You may be wondering what breakfast has to do with staying focused. A lot, actually. Research has shown that fueling up with a good breakfast in the morning can help improve both attention span and concentration.
And it’ll keep your kids from being distracted by a growling tummy midway through the morning!
Send your little ones off to school after a breakfast that includes a carbohydrate, a protein and a small amount of healthy fat. Like a whole grain bagel with peanut butter, for example. Or scrambled eggs and a piece of wheat toast with a pat of butter.
Maintain focus by doing one thing at a time
In general, school lessons themselves generally limit tasks to one at a time during the day. But there will be times that your child is working solo on an assignment.
That’s why it’s important to stress to your little one that it’s better to do one thing at a time than to try and multitask. He or she may want to know why — share that trying to do more than one thing at once has actually been shown to reduce concentration and limit our success.
Maintain focus by taking deep breaths
Meditation and deep breathing have picked up steam over the last few years as a remedy for our overly stressed brains. While they may seem like “adult” tactics, they can actually be helpful for kids, too.
Teach your child how to belly breathe when things feel complicated or overwhelming. This can help to clear the brain and allow your child to refocus on the task at hand.
Maintain focus by writing it out
While your child’s brain may not be filled with thoughts of work, parenting and other responsibilities, there’s still plenty on his or her mind.
If your little one often becomes distracted by thoughts during the day, encourage him or her to take a minute or so and jot those thoughts down. Even doodling nonsensical thoughts out can be helpful in releasing some distraction from the brain.
Talk with your child’s teacher to make sure cultivating this habit is OK within the classroom rules before encouraging your child to jot things down.
Maintain focus by practicing good habits at home
Homework is a normal part of the childhood experience. But in the home environment — in the midst of TV, video games and playtime — there are tons more distractions than at school.
Set a routine that limits those distractions. Establish a homework spot where your little one completes all assignments. This spot should be largely free of technology, except what’s required for the assignment.
One exception: Much like adults, your child may find that he or she works best while listening to some types of music. That may serve as more of a concentration-booster than a distraction.
Think your child’s attention difficulties may be a sign of a bigger problem? A pediatrician can help determine whether a medical condition is the cause. Find a doctor here.