Are you worried that your child doesn’t concentrate in class and is easily distracted? Read on to see how you can help him focus in this gadget-driven era.
By Susan Philip
The age of information has also ushered in the age of distraction. Staying focused and paying attention now seems like a challenge.
The problem afflicts not only adults but also children. Many children today, be it a preschooler or a teenager, find it difficult to concentrate for long on one task. However, it is not a problem that doesn't have a solution. As parents, we can train our children to tune out the distractions.
According to a study titled Executive Function: Skills For Life And Learning (2012) conducted by the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, ‘the ability to hold onto and work with information, focus thinking, filter distractions, and switch gears is like an airport having a highly effective air traffic control system to manage the arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways.’
The principles on which an airport works aptly conveys the state of a modern child’s mind, where numerous stimuli are competing for attention. “Children aren’t born with these skills—they are born with the potential to develop them,” the report further states. The study also suggests that early childhood and adolescence are the best time to develop these skills.
This is the best time for you to begin laying the foundation to help your child develop the ability to focus. Make sure your child gets a balanced diet and provide him with plenty of opportunities to play outdoors. Establish a daily routine and see to it that he gets sufficient rest.
As your child grows, so will her energy levels. Let your little one spend her excess energy by running about and playing before you ask her to sit down to do her studies. She will be more ready to focus.
At this stage, your child will be open to many distractions. Set apart a study area that is relatively calm. Make it a gadget-free zone, ensure that the TV cannot be heard there, and be firm that he is not to be disturbed by either family or friends during the designated study time.
Give your teenager enough time to himself. Don’t ban gadgets and media but regulate their use. He will be more amenable to focussing on what you want him to. Teens too can be overwhelmed by the multiple demands on them. Help your child prioritise first, then train him to multi-task.
By doing these simple activities you can help most children, irrespective of their age, stay focused. The earlier you start, the more your child will benefit from these games. However, even after sustained effort, if you find that she is inattentive or cannot settle down for a long time, it would be wise to bring it to your paediatrician’s attention as there may be an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed.
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