Children are not born knowing how to pay attention. So often adults penalize children for not having a skill they were never taught, and attention span is a perfect example of this. From the time children are young they can be trained to PAY ATTENTION and focus on a task (whether passively or actively) for an extended period of time.
I am not advocating training our children to be perfect little robots, but rather training them to become thoughtful, considerate, and self-controlled.
Like all aspects of training children, however, this takes effort and initiative. If you are aware of some very simple ways to build your child’s attention span, the benefits as they get older will be priceless! A child who can entertain themselves and focus on something specific for a long period of time will mostly likely grow into a more productive and happy adult.
5 Ways To Build Your Child’s Attention Span:
- Read Aloud to Your Children Daily - Start reading aloud to your children when they are young! Developing this habit of reading aloud provides your child with the opportunity to sit and focus on something for several minutes at a time. Encourage your child to tell the story back to you, and ask questions as you go along, so they know they are expected to pay attention. As your child gets older (around age 5 or 6, depending on the child), introduce simple chapter books and longer read alouds.
- Provide Appropriate Toys – Mega Blocks, Legos, Little People, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Dolls…. there are so many wonderful toys out there for your children. Allow your child time each day to play ALONE so they can develop their attention span. Again, start when they are little and set the expectation for attention. In our home we always have “quiet time” each afternoon. This is an hour of time where the children are expected to read or play quietly in their rooms: no iPods, television, or video games allowed!
- Limit Television! - I always notice that the less television my children watch, the greater their attention span will be.
- Engage in Activities With Your Children that Require Concentration and Attention – Some of our favorite activities when our children were young were working on jigsaw puzzles, playing Chutes and Ladders, and Candy Land, and cooking. Now that they are a bit older, we still enjoy the same activities, but just on a higher level. (The cooking pays off when they can finally make a meal for the family!)
- Model Attention Span in Your Own Life – Do you show your children what a good attention span looks like? Or, are you jumping from one thing to the next? Children in our society today are forced to moved so FAST, and in a large part it is because their parents move fast, too. We can all benefit from slowing down!