In an age of flashy cell phones and short video clips, attention spans are shrinking. It’s pretty standard: 47 percent of people find themselves focusing on something other than what they’re doing throughout the day.
We’ve become a culture of multitaskers, but there’s pretty strong evidence that multitasking actually damages productivity in the long run. It might seem like you’re getting a lot done by emailing your boss, then checking in with the sitter, then calling Linda from PTA about this week’s fundraiser, but your efficiency suffers. Better to just sit still and focus on one task at a time.
4 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Attention Span
A short attention span can lead to poor academic performance and missing important details or information. Helping your child learn to master their attention span will help them not only in their education, but also in relationships and future career pursuits as well.!
Below are 4 tips for improving your child’s attention span.
1. Start with Bite-Sized Chunks
Break the task down into smaller parts so that you’re not pushing them harder than you should.
Most kids can really only focus on something for two to five minutes multiplied by their age. For instance a five-year-old usually has a a maximum attention span of 10-25 minutes. Break a task down into smaller pieces that are more accessible to their distract-able brains. This helps them getting into the habit of following a task through to completion. Making it easier also encourages them to keep trying it more and, eventually, for longer. If you try to force your little one to sit still and focus for longer than they’re used to or able to, you’re on your way to a miserable experience for both of you.
Giving them small breaks also helps them learn what it means to “pay attention.” If they’re given the chance to go off task here and there, they’ll start to understand what it means to be on task.
2. Make It Interesting
During those breaks, have fun! For example, if you need them to help you clean the kitchen, start with something small: start with the counter, then play “head, shoulders, knees, and toes.” Sweep the floor, then make funny faces at each other. This can serve a dual purpose: there is strong evidence that physical activity is “one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood.”
3. Eliminate Distractions
Huge offenders we might overlook when it comes to concentration are hunger and fatigue. Give your child a snack before starting a task, but make sure it’s a healthy one. Treats loaded with sugar might give your kid a zippy boost, but that sugar will have them bouncing off the walls and away from their given duty. Stick to healthy nibbles like yogurt, peanut butter, whole-grain, and raw veggies. Some favorites: ants on a log, trail mix, or carrot sticks.
Get rid of distracting devices. Your child needs to focus on one thing at a time, so remove distractions like cell phones, tablets, TV… anything that they might consider more interesting than the task at hand.
4. Practice Concentrating
Strengthening their little minds will inevitably improve focus. Practice by playing short, engaging concentration games such as memory, checkers, or a word search. These games are fun, so it won’t seem like a chore, and it’ll help them in the long run. Get the whole family in on it! Even super easy games like “Simon Says” encourage concentration.
While the above may be helpful to help your child increase their attention span, don’t completely dismiss the possibility that your child has an attention deficit disorder. If wondering if your child has excessive forgetfulness, fidgeting, problems with patience, or self-focused behavior (which can manifest as trouble waiting their turn or constantly interrupting others), it may be worth talking to an expert. You know your child best, so trust your gut and talk to your doctor if necessary.