Few things can get on a parent’s nerves more than a bored child. Having a sluggish child who likes to wander around without any aim, or keeps frowning at doing homework, or simply unable to focus, is a real test of patience. Here are some ways to increase your child’s attention span to make work time a less painful process.
While many adults have developed the ability to work long hours on pitifully little sleep, the same cannot be expected of children. Children need enough rest to have a fresh mind. In fact, an afternoon nap would be helpful to refuel your child’s waning energy level when post-lunch lethargy hits.
It is astonishing to see what some parents feed their children. Processed microwave meals and sweet treats are harmful to both physical health and cognitive functions. But avoiding junk food alone is not enough. Food is fuel for the mind and your child needs a wholesome sustenance, which includes whole grains, proteins and tons of vegetables. Supplements are of limited efficacy if your child is not getting a balanced diet.
Exercise can do wonders for boosting one’s energy levels. The fad for fitness is, after all, partially driven by the desire for better work productivity. Exercise is also an excellent avenue to divert excess energy if you have hyperactive kids who can’t seem to sit still for longer than a minute.
Perhaps we have become too accustomed to sitting in front of our computers for the entire day that we expect the same from our children. Your child, however, needs to play. That is his natural desire and rightly so. Confining him to a room and insisting that he does his work, though necessary, is already contrary to this inclination. You should give enough time for your child to have fun and be socially engaged. In that way, he would be less likely to resent doing serious work since he has had his playtime. If even adults need leisure and gatherings with friends, what’s more children?
Good Work Practices
- Suitable Tasks
Children focus best on tasks of an appropriate degree of difficulty. If the task is too challenging, he’d give up and if it’s too easy, he’ll get bored. If your child is consistently losing focus, it shows that the difficulty level of the work you are giving him needs some tweaking. Of course, your child cannot expect to always enjoy what he is doing. Mixing enjoyable tasks with more tedious tasks makes it easier to get through them.
- Divide Big Tasks into Small Tasks
Your child is unlikely to survive an hour-long stretch of solving mathematical problems or reading. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to split the work into manageable portions with little breaks or rewards in between. Your child will be more motivated as he completes all the small goals, as compared to being daunted by enormous tasks and end up giving up totally.
- No Distractions
This is an obvious point, but one that is not taken seriously enough. Putting out of reach all electronic devices, and any object that causes distraction, is essential.
- A Team Effort
Removing distractions is a joint effort undertaken by all members of the household. You shouldn’t be on your phone while your child is beside you slogging away on a problem sum. Nor should your spouse be blaring the television in the adjacent room. There is also some sort of solidarity forged between siblings of similar age. For instance, it is demoralising for your child’s sibling to have fun while he is doing work. Having your children to do their work together is a good idea as they become fellow ‘comrades’ who spur each other on.
- Set A Schedule
There are practical long-term methods to help your child be on task. Setting weekly schedules is one of them. You and your child can sit down at the start of each week and decide on a schedule that works best for him. Allowing your child to have significant contribution in the schedule encourages him to take responsibility for his own work.
- Focus-strengthening Activities
The ability to focus increases with practice. Puzzles and memory games are great ways to increase attention span. Sports such as martial arts are also beneficial in this aspect, especially for active kids who need an avenue to drain their wealth of energy.
Children generally have shorter attention spans than adults. Expecting them to have the same concentration level as adults is highly unrealistic. Try getting down to their level and it would be a breeze guiding them.