Here’s how you can work with your child to strengthen their attention skills – without losing your patience.
Sometimes the school year can frustrate parents just as much as it does students. Even kids who love learning may find it hard to buckle down and bully their brains into studying, especially when the playground, television, or tablet is calling.
- “Can you please stop fidgeting and pay attention to your homework?
- “Put the screen away please, and focus on your flashcards.”
- “No dessert until you finish your worksheet!”
Does your kitchen table conversation sound like this in the evenings? You’re not alone. Many parents find themselves at a loss when it comes to encouraging their children to hone in and focus on tasks. And, it may not even be schoolwork specifically; it could be that your child drifts off mid-conversation or has trouble staying on task for any length of time.
The good news is, you don’t have to resort to endless lecturing or pull your hair out trying to keep your child’s attention. In this post, we’ll go over some tools and techniques you can use to help your child learn to regulate their own attention span and stay on task.
Why are attention skills important?
Of course, all children may sometimes have difficulty paying attention for long periods of time. In fact, it is unreasonable to expect a child to focus for a length of time that is not appropriate for their age and stage of development.
While you can help your child, it’s important to remember that attention is a learned skill that comes with time — and there will be limits to how far your child can progress depending on their age and ability. So, keep your expectations realistic.
Difficulties with attention can lead to a lot of frustration and anxiety for children, which is why it is important for parents to step in and help if they notice a problem. Children who have trouble paying attention may face many challenges:
- Stress over academic performance
- Behavioral problems such as the inability to settle down and stop talking during school
- Difficulty paying attention to and following instructions
- Trouble making friends due to poor social skills and self-regulation
3 ways to help your child strengthen their attention skills
If you believe that your child is not developing self-regulation at an appropriate pace, it may be time to step in and work with them to develop stronger attention skills. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, here are three key pointers.
1. Give attention
The old saying goes, “give attention to get attention.” It’s true! If you are distracted, multitasking, or scrolling, chances are your child will be just as uninterested in the task as you are. If you are focused and attentive, your child will be much more likely to respond to your cues.
Even just sitting down with your child and giving them undivided attention can work wonders. Add a little creativity to your project together — instead of insisting dully that they write their name over and over in their workbook, have them use a different medium like markers or chalk or even clay. This can transform a dreary homework session into quality time together.
2. Minimize distractions
Do your best to eliminate any potential distractions that may get in the way of your child’s focus. Things like background conversations, television, and movement can deter your child from staying on task. Consider physical distractions as well. Is your child hungry or tired? This can play a big role in their ability to stay focused on a given task.
3. Get help when you need it
Most children struggle with attention from time to time, but if you notice that your child is really struggling, consider therapeutic intervention. Getting help can significantly improve a child’s attention difficulties, and it can support anxious parents who are at the end of their rope.
Creating a customized plan just for you
At Lumiere Children’s Therapy, we work one-on-one with each family to develop a custom treatment plan to reveal each child’s dynamic potential.
Our assessments involve a multidisciplinary staff of clinicians who form a personalized team for your child. Together, we collaborate with you to craft a therapeutic plan that includes all of the areas of development your child needs to become strong and successful.
We offer speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, developmental therapy, social work/behavioral therapy, and physical therapy. We strive to provide a nurturing and loving environment where your child’s needs can be met with the utmost care and attention.
Contact us to learn more about how we can assist you and your family today.