3 techniques on improving focus in children. Perfect for the child who can’t pay attention for a long time.
My son was tossing acorns, rocks and leaves into a puddle. He watched which items sunk or floated, asked why some of them plopped while the others didn’t, and was so engrossed that we stayed crouched by the puddle for an hour and a half.
It was then I learned it’s possible for kids to stay focused for a long time. A ton of that has to do with their temperament, but we can also influence our children’s ability to focus.
Improving focus in children
If you’ve struggled with helping your child stay focused on one activity for a long time, you’re not alone. Many parents understand the benefits of focus but can’t seem to convince their kids to concentrate.
Thankfully, we can do plenty to hone this focus. These three simple techniques will help:
1. Follow your child’s lead
Encourage focus by letting your child decide how to play. Lay toys and books and allow him to decide what to play with, when, and for how long.
You can still have a general agenda and make suggestions, but allow him to determine the course of play. He gets to decide that for now he’ll play with his stuffed bunny, and maybe later stack some blocks.
Be careful not to cram too many commitments in a day so he has can decide what to do. He’s more likely to stay interested and develop a longer attention span with child-led play.
2. Don’t interrupt your child’s activity
Imagine you’re at work, concentrating on an assignment. A few minutes in, a coworker pops up asking if you could send her the file you worked on yesterday.
You stop your work to look for the file to send. Just as you finished that task, another coworker swings by and starts talking about her day. More interruptions. You get the idea.
Sit in the sidelines and allow your child to stay focused. You can ask questions, but don’t hover over every minute of the activity or decide what to do all the time.
My toddler was reading for an hour yesterday, so I sat nearby and answered a few of his questions, giving him time to be alone. I even used this opportunity to chop vegetables in the kitchen.
Your child will let you know when he wants company. Otherwise, give him uninterrupted time to play and discover.
3. Promote activities between challenging and easy
Give your child an easy toy and he’ll lose interest quickly. Do the same with a difficult one and he’ll get frustrated.
Promote activities challenging enough to ignite effort but not so difficult to cause frustration. Some toys may be too difficult for your child that he gets upset and gives up. Easy activities or toys he’s already figured out won’t keep him interested for long.
Want to help your child recognize letters and numbers? Join my newsletter and get sample worksheets from my workbook, Letters and Numbers—at no cost to you:
I’m not sure what my toddler learned during that hour and a half at the puddle. Maybe he realized that leaves float while rocks sink. Or he found new ways to play with water that he can try during bath time. Or maybe he just liked looking at the reflection of the trees above him.
Whatever he got out of it, he loved every moment. Beeping trucks and yelling kids and even a Mama trying to coerce him to go home didn’t deter his focus.
Get more tips about how to improve focus:
- How to Teach Our Kids to Embrace Mistakes
- Teach Your Child the Value of a Job Well Done
- How to Keep Your Child Learning in the Summer
- 8 Long Term Benefits of Reading to Your Child
- How to Raise a Smart Child
How do you help your child improve focus?