Finding Focus: Helping Your Child Pay Attention

It can be hard for a child to stay focused.  As a parent the last thing you want is the phone call from your child’s teacher saying they are struggling to stay focused in class.  It can be a hard task to think that you can help your child focus at school when you aren’t sitting with them.  Lack of focus can come at any age.  Adults even struggle with focusing on certain things as well.


What causes a lack of focus in our children?

Lack of focus can be lack of interest, or even lack of comprehension.  It can boil down to inability to sit still or that your child is easily distracted.  Your child may be a daydreamer who has the tendency to be in their head more than in the present.  Difficulty following directions, or an inability to keep things organized can also play into a lack of focus.  Another lack of focus may be that your child is too social, and being social is more important than paying attention.  Finding the cause of the lack of focus can help you know how to combat it. 


Lack of Focus At School

If the lack of focus is happening at school you can help your child learn how to put themselves in a better situation to help them focus.  This can mean telling them to sit in the front of the classroom.  This eliminates less things for them to look at between them and the teacher.  Sit far from distractions.  This can mean sitting away from the classroom door or window.  Keep an organized workspace at school.  Help them organize their notebooks, assignments, and folders. 

Another thing you can help with is homework assignments.  Help your child list what they need to do.  Sometimes it isn’t that they aren’t focused, it could be that they don’t know exactly where to start to get something completed.  Break big tasks down into smaller ones.  If they have a school project that needs to be completed, help them break the project down into smaller achievable goals.  Don’t allow them to get overwhelmed if they have more than one task to do.  Tell them one task at a time.  If your child has a lot of homework,  schedule in planned breaks.  Make a dedicated space for your child to do their homework, and have a time when they know they are supposed to work on it.  This keeping a schedule will help their body switch over into focus mode every day at the same time. 


Communication & Learning Style 

Finding out what helps your child focus and learn can be essential to helping them focus.  Talk to them, ask them what they feel helps them focus.  Does sitting or standing work better for them?  Do they like extreme quiet, or a little background music?  Do they learn best visually, making flashcards, drawing, or reading a loud.  Fidgeting doesn’t necessarily mean your child isn’t listening.  Them fidgeting could mean their body needs to get up and move for a minute.  Some children like to fidget to help them focus. 


Games that Improve Focus

You can help your child outside of school practice focusing by playing focus games.  This could be a jigsaw puzzle or a crossword puzzle.  Freeze dancing can also be a focus game.  It keeps your child’s mind listening to the music for when it stops to know to stop dancing.  Simon says, or head, shoulders, knees, and toes are all games that can get your child moving, but also practicing their focus skills. 



Another thing you can work on with your child is practicing mindfulness.  Mindfulness is living in the moment. Practicing this can help your child learn to be more in the present.  So if they notice their mind starting to wander they can bring their minds back to what is happening currently around them.  This can be working on breathing exercises, where they sit quietly and focus on every breath in and out.  Or you can have them stand and focus on how their feet feel touching the ground.  There are lots of mindfulness practices that can benefit your child.


Repeat Repeat Repeat

You can check if your child is actively listening to you by asking them to repeat back what you just said to them.


Unstructured Play

It is important to also give our children time to unstructured play.  Preferably outside


Vitamin D

The importance of vitamin D in our bodies is amazing.  The best way to get natural vitamin D is from the sun.  So if your child comes home with a boat load of energy allowing them to go run outside on their own with no instruction can do wonders for when they have to come back in to get busy doing homework. 



Making sure your child gets enough sleep at night can also help make sure they stay focused in class.


Diet & Food

Lack of focus may also come from diet.  Eating too much sugar, dairy, and gluten can actually affect the ability to focus.  Make sure your child’s blood sugar stays balanced throughout the day.  Adding in healthy fats to their diet can boost brain function, causing them to be more focused as well.  Magnesium rich foods can also help your child focus.  

Boosting dopamine can also be a huge help.  Dopamine is the brain chemical in charge of focus, motivation, and joy in activities.  Dopamine is released when we are doing activities that we deem as pleasurable.  Not having enough of this can lead to lack of interest and no focus.  You can boost dopamine levels with certain foods such as seaweed, egg whites, beef, chicken, turkey, fish, cheese, pumpkin, nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, spinach, avocados, oats, bananas, watermelons, chocolate, spirulina, broccoli, cauliflower, berries, and apples. 


Take Away

Helping our children learn to focus can be beneficial for them for their whole life.  Learning the techniques that help our children learn and focus the best can help everyone.  Adults need help focusing sometimes too, so don’t forget the average adult can only focus entirely on something for roughly 42 minutes with no interruption.  So a child’s focus may be a lot less than that. Finding fun ways to practice focus, and learning some mindfulness can help your child stay focused at school.


READ MORE:  Vitamin D Deficiency

Keeping to a daily schedule helps your body switch over into focus mode every day at the same time.


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