5 Ways To Help Your Child Learn To Focus
By Tyler Jacobson
All children have to learn how to focus. However, for some children, it can be harder, especially if they have a behavioral disorder or are struggling with emotional issues.
If your child has been struggling with their focus, here are five ways you can positively help your child learn how to focus.
1. Make Sure The Assignment Is Clear
Whether your child needs to clean their room or work on homework, it is important that you make sure that they understand their assignment. From the lofty point of being a parent, it can seem like the instructions are clear if you say something like, “Go clean your room.”
But for children who struggle to focus, cleaning their room can be an insurmountable mountain where they don’t know where to start, particularly if they are messy. It can lead to a spiral where you may find them cleaning baseboards while their toys and clothes are still on the floor.
Instead of leaving the assignment open-ended, give your child two to three clear instructions regarding what you want them to do. Carrying the room cleaning example, you could tell them, “Go pick up all your clothes and toys, and make sure to make the bed.” As your child learns to focus on smaller tasks, they can learn to do that on their own.
2. Help Your Child Organize
Much like breaking up tasks, helping your child to learn organizational skills can assist in honing their focus.
For instance, even with clear directions on what you expect when you tell your child to clean their room, without organization, the work will likely take a long time. And as you’ve probably seen, if something takes time to complete, the more likely your child will lose focus and leave the work incomplete.
I have found my youngest son terribly frustrated as he tried to follow my directions and put away his clothes. But his hangers were crammed together, and his drawers jammed with unfolded clothing. He had put away the toys and made the bet, but he had no idea how to make his clothes behave.
So, instead of me putting his clothes away or just telling him to fold and put away, I showed him how to fold and organize one of the drawers and stayed close by as he attempted the next drawer. Little by little, he managed to corral all his clothes and all I had to do is look up from my phone when he had questions.
If your child is older and has a smartphone or tablet, you can even install an organization app on it to help them. There are several organizational apps for kids that you can check out and see if one of them will suit your child’s needs.
3. Teach Kids To Take Mindfulness Breaks
Part of training your child to focus is helping them learn how to be more mindful. Being mindful can help your kid stop their thoughts from scattering and assist them in re-focusing on what they were meant to do.
There are a couple of ways you can teach mindfulness to your children, such as:
Sensory focusing – You can help your child learn both mindfulness and focus when you use sensory focusing. Have them sit or stand then listen for a particular sound. Maybe you want them to listen for the wind, or sniff the perfume of flowers. Whatever you choose, let it be distinct so your child can focus on that particular sense.
Routine meditation – For older children and teens, having routine meditation can help with focus and mindfulness. Even quietly meditating for 10 minutes a day can be highly beneficial in helping your child calm their mind and focus better.
4. Break Up Tasks Into Blocks Of Time
Especially for young children who struggle to stay on task, breaking up work into manageable blocks of time can make it easier for them to focus.
A simple timer can be used to give a visual cue to children that whatever they are working on, it won’t last forever. And, with a clear deadline for their work, children are better able to stay focus to complete their tasks.
So, whether your child is doing homework or chores, set a short 15-20 minute timer for them. When the timer goes off, give them a short break before getting them back on task, if they have more to do.
This tactic can also help children with depression, as it gives them focused blocks of time where they don’t dwell on their negative emotions and vulnerable to their unhappy thoughts.
5. Stay Flexible As Your Children Learn To Focus
Learning greater focus will take your child time, and there is no set timeline. Also, not all of the tactics I shared may work for your child, though they have helped not only my children but those of other families. However, each child is unique and takes their own time in learning necessary lifelong skills like focusing.
So, as you work with your kids, stay flexible. See where they may be struggling with focus and concentrate on helping in that area, whether it’s focusing on schoolwork or difficulty with abstract tasks. As you stay flexible, it is less likely you will become frustrated, and with you less frustrated, your child has a higher likelihood of succeeding.
By teaching your child to learn how to focus on their own, you can help them become self-sufficient and avoid turning yourself into a helicopter parent in an effort to help an unfocused child.