Children daydream. Apart from physically playing, they play in their mind spaces as well, letting themselves wander and getting lost in their thoughts. This is perfectly normal. In fact, daydreaming can benefit a child's creativity and imagination. Sometimes though, not being able to focus can distract them from certain tasks. So what kind of things can be an aid in helping kids focus?
Focus issues in kids
If your child constantly forgets things, makes careless mistakes, and often has a dreamy, distracted look on his face, your child may have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. However, parents should not jump to conclusions and it's best to leave the diagnosis of any focus-related condition to a specialist.
Of course, ADHD isn’t the only possibility. There are other learning issues out there that can also make kids lose focus. And then, it could just be that your child needs some help in snapping out of daydream-mode, and learning to focus on the task at hand.
You may notice how a child gets that glazed look in their eyes when you talk to them, signalling that they are now lost in their thoughts. If your child looks like they’re tuning you out, don’t be offended. They’re often just distracted. They may also find it difficult to finish tasks and follow directions.
Tips in helping kids focus
Whether your child has been diagnosed or not with ADHD or another disorder, there are things you can do in helping kids focus. While improvement may not be immediate, with your patience and over time, you will see them getting better at focusing.
1. Learn more about your child
Try to know as much as you can about your child. If you don’t know why your child has trouble focusing, try talking to your child’s teacher. If you do know why, there are ways in which you can help.
2. Practice patience and understanding
It’s not your child’s fault that they aren’t paying attention to you. They are in an early stage of development after all. Being patient is a must while he is distracted by another stimulus or daydreaming.
Understanding your child will help build their self-esteem. Otherwise, the lowered self-esteem will only make the focus problem worse.
3. Observe and take notes
Try to notice the patterns that contribute to your child’s lack of focus. In the same way, try to notice what helps your child focus as well.
What environmental factors are there that affect their attention? Taking note of these things will help you make the necessary changes in your home and the routines within your household.
A better knowledge of the environment and other stimuli can help you build a good strategy on how to improve attention. The notes will be helpful when it’s time to talk to your child’s doctor and teachers.
4. Create a schedule
It helps to have manageable deadlines that your child can meet. As each small deadline is met, your child will be encouraged to continue with what they’re doing. These deadlines help your child budget his time and focus on larger tasks.
The size of the task and the intervals in which they can finish these can help reduce stress — both yours and theirs. You can set a considerable (and not too strict) time limit for each task. The more they get used to having small amounts of time, the better they can be at focusing on what's in front of them.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes. Your child isn’t well-versed in time management and multi-tasking just yet, and it’s even harder with a focus issue. You can also read about what it feels like to have trouble paying attention.
Physical activities get your heart pumping, and this helps drive more oxygen to the brain. So take your child for a walk or have them bike to school. Let them play outside or have them exercise daily. They can do chores around the house, too, or participate in sports.
7. Turn off gadgets
This is important. As we live more in an age of digital devices, the impulse to be distracted by our devices is considerable. So before your child does homework, make sure you turn off the TV and keep the gadgets away until he's done.
8. Rest in between tasks
It’s much harder to focus on the task at hand if you’ve been at it for hours. So make sure your child can take a few short breaks.
You can divide a task into manageable chunks where a child can do work for 10 to 20 minutes straight (depending on age) followed by breaks. They can get up and move around, have a drink to refresh them, have a snack, and then go back to the task. He doesn’t have to do a whole other thing, they can also just relax.
When helping kids focus is tough
We know how frustrating it can be helping kids focus. But take it easy. Children have a keen sense of awareness to the world around them. It wasn’t long ago when they just came into this world. They’re trying to discover as much as they can.
For some children with focus problems, doing tasks can be difficult. So knowing more about their behaviour, understanding them, and being compassionate can help your child in the long run. If you’re still having trouble, don't hesitate to seek professional help in helping kids focus.