It’s common knowledge that children possess shorter attention spans compared to adults. That’s why they tend to be full of energy and ever curious about new things, yet are unlikely to stay focused on any one thing for long.
This is largely a normal occurrence, although in recent years, the pervasiveness of mobile devices and high-speed internet has contributed to even shorter attention spans amongst children exposed to screen time. In addition, the increase in open dialogues regarding the topic of children’s psychology within society have also led to a heightened awareness of short attention spans and how it can manifest in children.
The good news is that as children grow older, their ability to focus naturally increases in turn. With that said, some parents may feel that the lack of attention span as exhibited by their children may be pervasive enough to warrant closer attention.
The impact of shorter attention spans
Our ability to concentrate impacts our lives in a major way. Students who possess great attention spans are likely to perform extremely well in school. In comparison, those who find it difficult to focus on their studies tend to lag behind in their education.
Besides affecting academic results, a child’s attention span also determines their ability to commit to other endeavours in their lives, from learning to play a musical instrument to mastering computer programming.
The following points are some examples on how a child’s low attention span can affect their day-to-day activities:
- Becoming inattentive and even disruptive during classes in school
- Inability to complete daily tasks on time
- Underdeveloped communication skills due to distractions
- Carelessness when doing homework or performing other tasks and leaving multiple errors
- General inattentiveness and lack of enthusiasm for activities that are deemed uninteresting
- Disregarding physical wellbeing, including forgetting food and drink, and general hygiene
What can you do to help?
As parents, it can be distressing to discover that your children’s attention span may be preventing them from making the best of their young lives. But there’s no need to worry; help is always available, and there are multiple ways to help them to adapt and manage their ability to focus.
Here are some suggestions to keep your children’s mental focus in tip-top shape:
- Make sure that they take regular breaks from mobile and laptop screens. You can suggest alternative recreational activities for them, such as reading, exercise or spending the day outside.
- Ensure regular, sufficient sleep cycles. Children generally need more sleep than adults and giving them adequate time to rest can improve their focus.
- Encourage them to develop a reading habit. Aside from helping them to spend less time on their mobile devices, reading a book can also help them improve their focus.
- Ensure that they are well fed throughout the day, and that their meals are nutritious. A lack of good eating habits can lead to irritability and a lack of focus during study hours.
- Giving a child motivational compliments can encourage them to study and concentrate better. Even a simple “Keep it up,” or “Good job” can do wonders for motivation.
- Establish a set daily routine for them, be it sleep schedules, study periods or family mealtimes. This will help them get used to periods of concentration and focus, but be sure to not be overly strict, as they may chafe under the pressure and rebel against the rules instead.
- If they have special needs due to any underlying condition, consult your doctor for more suggestions on how to help your child, and take advantage of online learning tools that allow for flexible study periods.
A word about attention deficiency in children
While attention spans can be developed gradually amongst neuro-typical children, issues such as ADHD, dyslexia, and autism, as well brain injuries, depression, and trauma can result in attention deficiency amongst atypical children.
While these occurrences are more common than generally thought, their causes, ramifications and mitigation strategies may be less understood by society at large. On the other hand, conversations about the topic have increasingly surfaced in recent years, and more resources are constantly being made available.
A child’s attention span can substantially impact their academic performance and their quality of life. With a variety of possible causes attributing to a lack of focus, watching out for signs can help parents to address the issue in a timely manner and allow their child to reach their maximum potential in school.