Let's face it, mums and dads. Toddlers and young children have the attention span of a pup. Add gadgets to the equation and you have a tiny human who cannot concentrate on a task (other than playing with the iPad) for more than a few minutes. However, a study conducted by researchers at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, USA might just change it all! They just tell us how to improve a child's concentration - by dressing him up as Batman.
How to improve a child's concentration - the study
Well, obviously there is more to it than just dressing up. The study was conducted with 96 children ages 3 and 5. The idea was to see how well they could concentrate on a task at hand in the presence of distraction - a free access to an iPad. The researchers wanted to see how well the children performed when they self-distanced themselves while doing a task. The varying degree of distancing ranged from self-immersed to the third person, to the exemplar. Each was assigned with a brief but boring 10-minute task with an out - if they would get bored, they could use the iPad. All were told that the job at hand was really important.
The children were randomly assigned to 4 groups. The control group was not given any additional instructions. The self-immersed group was asked to think how well they were doing the job. The third-person group was asked to think about themselves in the third person - how well was Hannah doing the job. And the the examplar group was asked to choose their favourite character and was asked how well 'Batman' or ' Bob the Builder' was doing a job.
After each minute, except the control group, they were asked how well they were doing the job. The study was later repeated with 180 4 and 6-year-olds.
It turns out that children, being children, could not concentrate completely on the task at hand. However, the 'batmen' did a much better job than 'Hannahs'. The self - immersed group followed.
This essentially means two things.
- Children are capable of thinking 'what would Batman do' in such situations and follow through
- They feel more motivated when they can look up to someone as legendary as Batman who perseveres and gets the job done.
So should we start sending them to school in a cape and a mask?
Not really. To improve a child's concentration, they need to associate certain attributes with performance and concentration. You feel more at ease in a formal attire at a meeting, or feel more confident when you are wearing certain shoes. They should learn to attribute a place, a costume, a situation with a need to perform better.
An easy way to do this is by setting an example. This may sound ridiculous, but here is a small experiment that you can conduct.
When you are helping them with their homework or studies, make sure that you are sitting at a desk and not the dinner table. There has to be a place in your home that they can think of as a place to sit, work, and be serious. Position the desk in front of a wall with no distractions in sight.
And when you help them with their homework, change into your work clothes. They already associate your work clothes with serious work. So, show them that you are serious about their studies and so should they be. You can start dressing them up in their school uniforms or a particular set of clothes, just to ascribe Batman-like qualities to them.
This way, they can self-distance themselves and work better. It is almost like taking a step back to see the whole picture. This is the best way to improve a child's concentration because it is self-driven rather than being forced.
Continue this for a month or more, and essentially, set up a schedule that is consistent throughout the week. And let us know how it works for you!
(Image: VM.Shpilka / Shutterstock.com)