Every mom knows how difficult it is sometimes to make your child focus on the activity, subject or process. As any other character quality, attentiveness can be taught and developed. Likewise, it takes time for a child to develop this quality, and you as a parent can help your kid do it the best way they can.
What is the most appropriate age to start teaching and developing attentiveness? The area of the brain that regulates attentiveness and self-control is one of the last areas in the brain to fully mature. However, it’s never too early to start practicing these skills. Most kids readily grasp attentiveness skills between the ages of 3-7. And the more attentive your kid is, the easier it is for him/her to engage in the classroom as good focusing skills help children remain oriented to their established goals for longer periods of time, despite internal and external distractions.
Tips to help you teach your kid to be attentive
Lead By Example
Whatever you do, try to be a positive example for your kid. If you want your child to be attentive – be it yourself as children always look up to their parents and unconsciously learn from them.
When you set a goal or a task for your kid, make sure nothing distracts them from the focus. Turn off the TV, switch off the phone, and get rid of other distracting factors, if necessary. Be ready to sacrifice your leisure and entertainment, too. Your child should understand that what you say is serious and the task is more important than anything else right now.
By the way, kids’ favorite pastime – video games and playing video games – are proved to make children less attentive.
Set a routine
Routine is a must for everyone, even if you’re only two years old. When a child has a special routine, it is not only a means of disciplining them, but also a way to make your kid feel safe – they know what’s coming next and they’re ready and focused on the upcoming activity. The routine habit helps kids effectively meet new challenges.
Teach your child to ask questions
Children must learn to ask questions if they misunderstand something or want to know more about the subject in question. You can help your kid develop this skill using different games, like, for example, ‘I Spy’ (The leader chooses an object, keeping its identity a secret. A kid/children should only ask “yes or no” questions to find out what the object is).
Play games that develop attentiveness
A game is the best way for a child to learn. Attentiveness developing games are not only fun for both a kid and a parent/parents but also incredibly useful in developing the focus and self-control skills.
Games that develop attentiveness include:
- ‘I Spy’
- Puzzle solving
- ‘Simon Says’ (It’s good to change directions every now and then, like for example, after a round of doing what ‘Simon Says’ ask your child to do the opposite of what ‘Simon Says’.)
- Story Sharing (A family game during which one member of the family starts the story with a short sentence. Then the other member continues the story adding his/her sentence, one at a time. This game helps children become attentive, self-controlled and cognitively flexible.)
- ‘Mirror What I Do’ (A parent and a child sit/stand in front of each other. The parent is the leader, the child is the follower. The object of the game is to have the child mirror the movements of the parent, thus controlling their own body movements.)
- Music stopping games, like ‘Musical Chairs’ or ‘Hot Potato’.
- Repeating (Ask your child to repeat what you have just said, then try to make sentences longer and more complex.)
- Carom board and chess
Read books together
Reading is one of the best activities for kids and it can never be overestimated. When you child is old enough to sit still and listen, read books for them first, then when they learn to read, read them together. Looking through colorful books with interesting pictures is more appropriate for little children who are yet unable to focus on reading itself. While looking through picture books try to pay your kid’s attention to details and ask them to find small objects in the picture. With time, the kid will learn to pay attention to both eye-catching and less easily noticeable details.
As a parent you may find it quite challenging to teach your kid the attentiveness skill. However, no matter how hard it may seem at first, once your kid improves their academic results or achieves some other important goals you’ll feel that it was all worth it. And remember that raising a smart kid is never easy.