Are You Listening! 10 Tips for Increasing Your Child’s Ability to Concentrate?
You happen to pass by your child while he is doing his homework at the kitchen table. You notice they have not turned the page in the story they are reading or written a single word on their paper? You bark, “why aren’t you doing your homework?” They turn and look at you with a distant look on their face and say, “huh?” or “what did you say?”
Clearly their focus was not on their homework. Are they hungry? Are they unhappy that they must do homework instead of playing a computer game? What can a parent do? Before you create a negative encounter, consider these TIPS for helping your child concentrate:
- Make sure their study environment is appropriate. Is the TV on? Are you making noise? Are there other distractions? Do they have all the materials they need?
- Ask them to complete a more desirable task before they tackle a less desirable task.
- Allow natural consequences to occur as a result of your child’s inability to concentrate (e.g., work not done or completed inaccurately will be made up during their recreational time, not concentrating while people are talking results in not knowing what to do…)
- For young children especially, reduce directions to ‘steps.’ Give your child each additional step after they complete the previous step.
- Reinforce your child when they stay on task and complete their assignments.
- Make sure that your child’s tasks are at their ability level.
- Develop their ability to concentrate through a fun activity like One-Two-Three. Give your child directions, increasing the number of steps as they demonstrate success in concentrating.
- If age appropriate, have your child participate in games that require varying lengths of concentration such as tic-tac-toe, checkers, chess, and so on.
- Provide your child with appropriate time limits for the completion of assignments or tasks. Remember, most younger children do not operate on adult time constraints. Give them time, some children just need more time to complete tasks.
- Your child may respond favorably to the use of a timer. Let them determine how much time they want for completing the task or assignment. Knowing your child, make sure they set an appropriate time span for their ability level and not set an unrealistic expectation that will just add stress.
Both of my children were complete opposites. My son was very schedule oriented and disciplined. He came home from school, had a snack, and began his homework. He delighted in doing an assignment correctly. My daughter on the other hand, was a mind of her own. The faster she could complete an assignment so she could play with her dolls, the happier she was. Her approach changed when she took up the study of ballet. She started very young and studied and performed through her college years. When she got into upper elementary grades, trying to balance the rigors of ballet training and performance with schoolwork, was a challenge. The discipline of ballet transferred to discipline with schoolwork. She became an honor roll student as well as an accomplished dancer.
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