We know how important focus or attention is. Attention is needed in order for a child to learn.
We don’t need our child’s developmental pediatrician to tell us that. But sometimes it is important to hear it again.
My goal for this article is to give practical tips and tricks to help develop your child’s attention span without the aid of medication.
Attention Disorder Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects between 1.5 and 3.5 million school-age children in the U.S., or an estimated 5% of all boys and 2% of all girls. Why ADHD affects more boys than girls is a mystery at this point. Up to 60% of these children will continue to have symptoms into adulthood. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than a million children take prescription medicines to control hyperactive behavior. The estimated cost to schools is about 3 billion dollars.
Top 5 Ways to Help Your Kid Develop Attention
1. Always clean your kid’s workplace
You need all the help you can get when your inattentive kid is studying.
When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information. Clutter makes you distracted and unable to process information as well as you do in an uncluttered, organized, and serene environment.
For example, my son can get really distracted when my wife is teaching him how to write. So in order for us to keep his attention, we hide his toys.
This unsurprisingly increases his success rate when drawing different types of lines and shapes.
2. A healthy mind requires a healthy body
You need to encourage your child to engage in physical activity.
You can let them loose in the playground. But the best thing to do, if possible, is to create a schedule for your child to exercise.
Aerobic exercise stimulates brain growth and enhances our ability to learn. Studies also suggest that exercise helps kids focus attention in school.
Make it a daily habit.
3. Create mini goals and escalate to bigger goals
My kid’s doctor said that creating goals is very important to improve attention.
Studies show that goal-setting can help kids gain the sense of discipline and that internal drive it takes to stay motivated to complete the tasks they’ve set for themselves.
Once we have set a goal, we need to be disciplined enough ourselves to help our child finish the goal.
Quitting becomes a habit.
That’s why you need to keep encouraging the child to finish goals.
Keep encouraging but never push the child. They can detect that they are being pushed and may refuse to do the task.
Small goals include requests like: listening to you for 5 minutes, eating healthy food, sitting for 15 minutes, solving puzzles for 8 minutes, writing for an hour, and so on.
4. Find activities they love
For my wife and I, we discovered very early on that our child loves to paint.
I mean, Tim can focus for about an hour just painting different shapes and colors. It’s not a chore for him.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius
I guess the wise man is right after all, huh?
5. Read with your child
Tim’s doctor told us that we should read to him daily.
I must admit that we have not been doing that lately because we are concentrating on teaching him how to write.
But we need to improve on that. Reading with your child is one of the best bonding experiences you can have with them.
For example, a study was made in Rhode Island Hospital to compare two groups of eight months old – one group was read to often as babies, while the other was not. It was shown that those who were read to have their “receptive” vocabularies (number of words they understand) increased 40 per cent since babyhood, while the non-reading group increased by only 16 per cent.
Not only that, reading stories to kids will help enrich their lives. From fables and fairy tales, you can develop your child’s sense of wonder and creativity.
Helping Your Child is Not Easy
Attention is just the start if your child is speech delayed with GDD.
It’s not a bad idea to start speech therapy along with other treatments.
That said, our doctor advised us to improve Tim’s attention so that he will have a better chance learning during speech therapy.
We are happy to announce that we have found a speech therapy school near our area. We are hoping to enroll Tim ASAP. They just need to fit him in their schedule.