Simple Strategies to Help Your Kids Focus

If your kids struggle to stay focused on homework and other tasks then it’s hardly surprising! Between social media updates, games, chat, online challenges, videos, ads, and more, our devices bombard us with distractions.


They’re all training us not to pay attention, but there is hope. Experts recommend a few simple strategies to help them stay on task and these work just as well for adults as they do for kids and for those with or without sensory processing difficulties. We’ve gathered some of these proven strategies here for you to try, and we hope they help!


(Of course, if your child is in the autism spectrum then there is no substitute for professional input. We offer these ideas and the resources on our website as useful additions to your parenting toolbox!)

Location


Set aside a space with minimal distractions so your kids can complete tasks like homework without interruption. Switch off phones, TVs, and other devices. Soon, this ritual will become embedded and aid their ability to concentrate, and as your kids get older you can try apps that automatically shut off Internet access after a set time. In their teenage years, they can use self-monitoring software to help them manage their time independently.


Now, having said that, if you know that your child works better with a little background music then don’t be rigid about the silence. If something works, go with it!

Chop it Up

Big tasks can be daunting, but chopping them up and tackling them one at a time makes them more manageable and less overwhelming.


The same approach goes for the assistance you give, too. If you‘re helping them with their homework, try limiting your instructions to one or two at a time before you move on to the next. “Sit down, get your assignment book out,” is one manageable chunk of directions. “Find your pen and turn to the last page,” is another.


Asking your child to write out a list of actions to help them handle assignments can take them from feeling snowed under by an overwhelming ‘big picture’ to feeling relaxed. Now they can tackle them in order.


The list could look like this:

  • Collect information
  • Read/Do research
  • Make notes
  • Settle on a theme
  • Draft an outline
  • Write the piece
  • Revise
  • Check

Set a Timer


An open-ended ‘ordeal’ can be hard to handle, but if you set a timer then your child knows exactly how long they have to keep focusing before their next break, making it more bearable. 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness means consciously paying attention to what you’re doing, rather than letting your mind wander. Studies have shown it can help children to focus on tasks and improve behavior. Asking them to concentrate on their breathing, even for just a few in and out breaths before they study or take a test has been shown to improve focus.

Prompts

Even if your kid wanders off task, all is not lost. Agree with them on a signal that lets them know they’ve drifted off. It could be a word, or maybe a touch of the hand. Whatever it is, you can use it as a ‘wake-up call’. If you let their teacher know, they might be able to use it too.

Fidgets


There are so many different fidget toys you can try. Research shows that they’re highly effective at blocking out distractions, beating boredom, reducing anxiety, and boosting focus. They increase levels of the neurotransmitters in the brain that control focus and attention.

Praise

It can be disheartening for your child to find that focusing is such a struggle. Make sure to praise their hard work, note even their small accomplishments, remind them of their strengths and reassure them that they can improve. All of this builds confidence which gives them the motivation to keep trying.

Diet 

A balanced diet full of natural food is one of the keys to better focus. Why? Processed foods often have high levels of salt, which can raise blood pressure, making the heart work harder. The body releases adrenaline into the bloodstream and boom! Anxiety rises and focus suffers.

It can be hard to change your child’s diet completely, but adding in more natural foods can help. For instance, broccoli is rich in potassium, folate, calcium, and vitamin C. It’s packed with dietary fiber and a potent phytochemical – sulforaphane, which can aid focus and lower cancer risk. But even if your child doesn’t like broccoli, you can now give them sulforaphane with a tasty chewable supplement.   

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