Building focus in an active or distracted child can be difficult, and is one of the most common troubles we see among students. So don’t worry! You’re not alone in this struggle, and it is certainly something you can overcome.
When trying to build focus, develop smart habits and strategies to suit your child’s needs and strengths.
Check Your Expectations
Focus is like a muscle; it doesn’t get stronger unless you build it. Strengthening focus takes consistency, patience and an understanding of how best to engage and motivate your child.
The average attention span is your child’s age plus one minute, so a 2 year old’s attention span would be about 3 minutes, etc.
Before you criticise your child’s attention span, ask if your expectations are realistic. Age makes a big difference, so don’t expect a 2-year-old to behave like a 4-year-old. In fact, don’t compare at all! Children are constantly growing and each have unique characteristics. Comparing is unfair to children and leaves parents frustrated and with nothing constructive to move forward.
Children can be distracted by just about anything, so observe your child to understand key triggers (or ask your Shichida teacher what they’ve noticed!). Some things almost always distract kids, including:
- Overexposure to Electronics: Electronics reduce attention span in children and adults long-term. While there are great educational programs, limit overall exposure.
- Unhealthy Foods: Diet and attention span are closely related. Unhealthy fats and sugars, in particular, reduce focus.
- Lack of Sleep! We all know how hard it is to function without sufficient sleep!
- Inconsistency: By keeping learning consistent, you reduce the risk of new distractions.
Sometimes it’s impossible to eliminate distractions. Try to create a strategic learning environment, but understand that the ability to focus in the face of distractions is a valuable attribute too.
Work with Them!
Consider your child’s strengths and preferences to get the best out of children.
- Relate to their Interests: Children develop interests from a young age. Use this to your advantage! For example, if your child can’t stand numbers but loves dinosaurs, centre a counting activity around dinosaurs.
- Let them Choose: When children feel in control and aren’t forced to do something, they are more willing to participate.
- Break Down Large Tasks: Set small goals or time limits where they can work in bursts. Playing games like “beat the clock” for older children provides motivation.
- Have a Working Space and Routine.
- Don’t Push too Hard! This will dissuade them from completing the task and can harm the relationship between parents and child. Instead, practice understanding.
- Work as a Team! Children value your time and praise. If you view building focus as giving an invaluable gift to your child, it becomes much easier to practice patience.
Some Things we do at Shichida to Build and Sustain Focus!
Focus is one of the first skills taught at Shichida. We see building focus as giving a lifelong gift to your child, and we center our classes around making it easy to promote a strong attention span.
- Calming Background Music: Playing relaxing music induces alpha wave function. When we are in an alpha wave mindset we are most capable to receive and retain information.
- Memory Games: Having a strong memory is like a “cheat sheet” for attention. If a child has a strong memory but a short attention span, they can rely on memory to help them whilst they improve attention span. Therefore there is a huge value in building memory from a young age.
- Pace: If you ever thought Shichida activities are fast-paced, you’re right and there’s a reason for it. Based on the average attention span on young children, we alter the complexity and speed of activities to work with children’s physical capabilities.
- Use a Variety of Fun Things: We do this to engage children and to build other strengths all-round.
Building focus in a distracted child can be an arduous task, but it produces incredible, long-term benefits for children.