Do you feel that your child is not able to concentrate on studies? Are you struggling to get your child to concentrate on any activity? Does your kid get distracted easily? In this blog, we share with you research-backed and expert-recommended tips on how to improve concentration in kids.
How to Improve Concentration in Kids?
- Exercise & Sports
- Healthy Breakfast
- Positive Parenting
- Learning Music
- Avoiding Electronic Gadgets
- Setting Routines
- Encourage a Passion
- Good Mood
- Joint Attention
Tip 1: Exercise helps in improving concentration
We have all heard the saying, “Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body”. It turns out to be quite true, literally! Sports and games positively impact child development. Research has shown that even children who are having problems like ADHD can benefit from a daily dose of exercise. Exercise positively impacts attention and performance in school. Some children however, might find exercises boring. Remember those exercises that they made us do in PT classes? A good alternative to exercise would be to play physical sports. Playing a sport has all the benefits of exercise and kids enjoy playing a sport more than doing exercises. To sum up, exercise and sports are excellent options to help your child concentrate.
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Tip 2: Healthy breakfast helps kids concentrate
As an adult, do you find it easy to concentrate on your work when you are hungry? Most adults would answer that question with a ‘no’. Why would it be any different for children? Research has shown that eating nutritious and filling breakfast can help in improving the concentration levels of a child. A good breakfast has numerous other benefits including achieving balanced weight, better cognitive development, good behaviour and enhanced performance in school including in subjects such as mathematics. Kids who eat breakfast find it easier to concentrate on studies for longer hours. Experts often say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you are not in the habit of giving your kid a breakfast, you should start doing so at the earliest. There are numerous nutritious and yet easy-to-cook breakfast options available in the market today. This has made life easy working professionals and busy parents. Frankly, there is no excuse for not giving your kid a healthy breakfast every morning.
Tip 3: Positive parenting helps raise calmer and well-adjusted kids
If a child is growing up in a stressful environment in its home, the child is bound to have developmental issues. Research has shown that fun, lively and positive atmosphere in the house has numerous lifelong benefits. The atmosphere and environment in the home directly impact various aspects of cognitive development including executive functioning skills. Executive functioning skills are also associated with memory. Studies have confirmed that encouraging and motivating (positive reinforcement) gently helps the child to pay attention to the task at hand. Conversely, relying on excessive negative reinforcement will impact the child’s ability to concentrate adversely.
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Tip 4: Music helps a child to concentrate
Very few pursuits of life are as loved as music. It should not surprise parents that learning music is beneficial to children and aids in child development. Read this blog to Kids who pursue and practice music regularly seem to love it and concentrate for long hours. Learning music aids in literacy, improves academic results and fundamentally alters the brain. Latest research confirms that music helps children to concentrate better. There are two parts to concentration: a. conscious part where the individual directs his mind to the task-at-hand and b. the unconscious part, upon which the individual has little control. Music might play an important role in controlling the unconscious part. This is an area of ongoing research. Studies are currently underway on whether different types of music and rhythms impact concentration in different ways. The key takeaway for any parent is that they should consider enrolling their children for music lessons at the earliest. Most Indian music teachers start accepting children as young as 4 years.
Tip 5: Avoid Electronic gadgets
Excessive screen time, whether TV or electronic gadgets, harms the kids’ ability to concentrate. Screen time also includes the so-called ‘educational’ or ‘learning apps’ on mobile phones. Parents should be aware that most of these ‘learning apps’ have no proven benefits for the kid anyway! Eliminating screen time (or minimizing it to a great extent), will go a long way in helping your child. As parents ourselves, we understand the practical challenges involved in reducing screen time for your kid. If you are attempting to wean your child off electronic gadgets we would advise you to channelize the child’s energy towards other healthier pursuits as a substitute and be firm on your decision. Remember that once you go past the first couple of weeks, the child will adjust and accept the new screen time free (or reduced) environment.
Tip 6: Setting a routine helps a kid to concentrate
It difficult for adults to imagine what it is to be a child. The world that surrounds us holds little surprises for an adult. But that is not the case for child. For kids, everything around them is new and exciting. This is why setting a routine helps give a sense of structure to the child. It provides them with an anchor and a firm base in an otherwise dynamic and sometimes overwhelming world. Setting a daily routine will positively impact its ability to concentrate on the task-at-hand, improve general behaviour and discipline. Studies show that setting routines helps the child to be more independent, confident and reduces tantrums. We encourage every parent to read more on how to set routines for their kids. For example, if as per your routine, 7-8 PM is the time for reading books, you will notice that over time, the child begins to focus on the task for the full one hour. Setting effective routines take time and it is therefore important to be patient and consistent.
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Tip 7: Encourage a Passion
Research shows that encouraging your child to pursue what he or she loves, helps in increasing its ability to concentrate. So what does your child love doing? Well, that is for you to discover. It will vary from child to child. Some children might love playing with colours while others might love building sand castles. If a child finds a task at hand too challenging, research shows that concentration levels of the child would diminish. The key responsibility that we as parents have, is to find the right balance between encouraging the child to do what she loves and simultaneously not letting her avoid activities that she views as challenging or uninteresting. When trying to teach your child to concentrate on a challenging or uninteresting activity, tactics such as breaking down the task into simpler chunks and planned breaks help.
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Tip 8: Moods play an Important Role in Concentration
I find it difficult to concentrate in office if I upset about something. Turns out that mood is an important element of concentration even for children. A child finds it difficult to concentrate if he or she is upset, sad, overwhelmed, tired or excited. A calm child will find it easier to focus on the task-at-hand. So as a parent, you need to watch out for the mood of your child. If you have identified that the child is distracted because of the mood, talking to the child will help the child deal with it. Also identify the root causes of the mood. For example, one of the common reasons for tiredness in children is inadequate sleep. Inculcate regular and adequate sleeping habits in your child to avoid this problem.
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Tip 9: Joint Attention helps in Concentration
Joint attention is defined as the shared focus of two individuals on an object. There has been a fair amount of research on this topic over the last few decades. For example, it has been observed that even a 11-month-old infant can follow the direction of the parent’s gaze and look at the object that the parent wants it to look at. Research findings of this nature show that parents and caregivers have a crucial role to play in getting a child to focus. Doing activities together with the child will not only help the child concentrate better but will also enhance the entire experience. We have noted earlier that human interaction enhances learning in children because their symbolic understanding is under-developed. Our advice to parents would be to lead by example and help the child concentrate on the activity by doing it alongside with him or her. You can look to gradually wean the child off the need for joint attention at a later stage.
How to improve Kids Concentration in the era of Information Overload & Low Attention Spans?
Kids today are growing up in an environment that is radically different from what we grew up in. It would be fair to say that they have a lot more sources of stimuli than we had. Just look around your house. TV, laptop, tablets, mobile phones and various other electronic gadgets play important roles in our lives and constantly stimulate us. It is no wonder that in general, adult attention span is getting smaller in this era of the information age and now it stands at just 8 seconds. If 8 seconds is the attention span of adults, should we be blaming the kids for not being able to concentrate?
In comparison with adults, children find it difficult to concentrate over long periods of time. Parents should understand is that paying attention or focusing on the task at hand, is a skill that is acquired over time. It is not a skill that is present in children from birth! Recent research has indicated that even teenagers find it hard to concentrate because they ‘have a lot going in their brains’ and consequently work ‘less efficiently’ than adults. Brains of teenagers bear a closer resemblance to brains of children than adult brains. Therefore there are no easy answers to questions like: how to concentrate on studies for long hours. We would encourage parents to view the process of increasing concentration in children as a long journey that extends well into teenage years.
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Improving Concentration in Kids has enormous Benefits!
Improving concentration skills of your kid has lifelong benefits. Ability of toddlers to pay attention to the task at hand, has a positive correlation with learning and cognitive development, problem solving capabilities, IQ and language skills. It is therefore important for all parents to know how to improve concentration in kids. We encourage you to implement our research-backed tips on how to improve concentration skills of your child. Some of these tips will also help in improving memory related skills of your child.
We hope you have liked our tips on how to improve concentration in kids. It should be noted that ability to concentrate for long hours any activity, takes a long time to master. Even teenagers cannot concentrate like adults. So as a parent you need to have realistic expectations. Please read these author’s notes before your sign off.
How to improve concentration in Kids: Author’s Notes to Parents
- Each Child is different. As a parent you should work towards finding individualized strategies and tactics for your child.
- Have realistic expectations. For example, children in the 4-5 year age group typically can only concentrate for about 5-20 mins on a task and not more! Having unrealistic expectations will be counterproductive.
- There have been suggestions that yoga, meditation and belly breathing techniques work well. While there is no doubt that yoga and meditation techniques do work for adults, we had practical challenges in using them for our young children. We leave it to parents to decide if they wish to use yoga and meditation techniques for their children or not.
- Finally, if the problem is severe and persistent, despite your best efforts, do seek professional help.
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We would love to Hear from You!
Did you find the above tips useful? Do you use any other techniques to improve your child’s concentration? Do you have any more ideas on how to increase concentration of child in studies?
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