Thinking of concentration as a skill that can be built up over time is a growth-focused approach to solving the problem of your child’s inattention.
Stay positive, patient, and don’t give up. Your child looks to you to set the tone for any challenge they face. Be a model for them and implement some of these tips to start building focus:
Facing a huge task can seem insurmountable when you look at it all at once. Presenting your child with a giant project (i.e. complete these 30 math problems, clean your entire room, set the table with all the place settings) is a good way to set them up for failure.
More than likely, your child will start the task with good intentions, get distracted or lose focus, and then fail to complete it.
Instead, break big tasks into bite-sized jobs. Put all the focus on the smaller tasks, and when each is completed, take a break before diving into the next one.
For example, instead of saying “do your homework,” say “let’s finish three math problems before dinner.”
Research has shown that a group of nerves in the brain that regulate breathing are connected to the brain’s arousal center. When you keep your breath calm and slow, your brain is signaled to keep at an even keel, as well.
That’s why, when your child starts losing focus, taking deep breaths can help calm them, reduce anxiety, and re-center their attention.
Use a technique like deep belly breathing to help your child learn to slow down and concentrate when it gets tough. For best results, practice when they’re calm so they get the hang of the technique.
Concentrating is naturally harder for kids than adults. That’s why it’s important to let them take breaks between focus sessions – especially for those kids who are fidgety. Encourage them to get up, move around, and play during breaks so they can sit down again later feeling refreshed and revived.
Exercise is an important player for any healthy lifestyle, but your unfocused child will benefit even more from daily movement and exertion.
Exercising causes stress hormones to drop, encourages the growth of brain cells, and creates new connections between them. On top of that, a study has found that exercise encourages the growth of brain cells in the region called the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning.
In short, daily exercise primes your child’s brain for learning how to focus. It helps them release excess energy, too.
However, while exercise is a big deal, team sports aren’t the only way to get your child moving. Children may also get their daily exercise through unstructured play – so let them loose in the backyard or on the playground, too.