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Ways to help hold the attention of children at home.

Does your child struggle with attention and focus? Here are some tips which might be useful.

  • Make learning active: Encourage use of visual or other senses to help your child with their homework. You could have them underline reading material with coloured pencils or highlighters. They could draw stick figures or cartoons to visually represent words and vocabulary. Or even use pieces of popcorn or MnM’s to visually layout math problems.
  • Teach self-monitoring: Teach your child to become aware of distractions. With practice they will soon become self-aware of the feeling of being distracted and will recognise when their attention starts drifting. Remember, individuals with ADHD benefit from positive affirmations; repeat phrases such as “I am getting there” or “I can focus on this”.
  • Play attention boosting games: Classic children’s games such as Simon Says, I Spy, and Musical Chairs are highly attention seeking and require good listening and following skills. The game Champion Distractor requires one person to focus on completing a task while the other tries to distract them.
  • Go outside: Studies link outdoors time (specifically in natural environments) with improved concentration. Allow your child time to play outside before sitting down to do homework or class. You can try going on a walk, playing tag, or taking the scenic driving route to school. Encourage mindful noticing of what is around them.
  • Encourage healthy sleeping and eating habits: Sleep is already pivotal for developing children; however, it is even more important for children with ADHD. Studies suggest even an extra half an hour of sleep can help with impulsivity and restlessness. To encourage good sleeping habits, maintain a consistent bedtime schedule, keep the bedroom dark and cool, and prevent exposure to blue light (TV & computer screens) at least an hour before bedtime. Promoting healthy eating habits is important for developing children also; giving your child a balanced diet of grains, meats, fish, and many fruits and vegetables is highly important for children with ADHD unless there are food sensitivities. There is evidence to suggest that food preservatives (such as sodium benzoate) and colourings (yellow/red) can be problematic for children with ADHD. Seek help from your dietician if you need assistance with this.
  • Practice mindfulness with them: Activities such as taking a few deep breaths or sitting quietly before a test or class make a huge difference to focus for children with ADHD. This can also improve depressive and anxiety symptoms. Use 5 senses grounding whenever you like and wherever you are.
  • Introduce them to music: Due to its rhythmic and structure natured, music assists in honing and strengthening children’s attention span and social skills. Listening to their favourite song can calm down a child long enough to complete their homework as their brain will release dopamine which boosts focus. Playing musical instruments cultivates the different parts of their brain and opens up opportunities to work in groups. Moreover, recent studies have proven that children who play a musical instrument perform better on tests involving brain function.

If you feel that your child has more significant difficulties with attention and focus, Psychology ONE is offering ADHD screening assessments for children and young people aged between 6 and 18 years. Contact us on 0753296991 to enquire. Discounts are available for those with a valid Pensioner Concession card.

Psychology ONE also provides therapeutic services for children, young people, and adults with ADHD. If you are seeking individual services, please call 0753296991. Group sessions for children and young people will be available from Term 2 – for further information or to be added to our wait list, please call 0753296991 to leave your details.

Sources:

ADDitude. (2022, September 7). How to Snag the Attention of a Distracted Child. Retrieved from ADDitude: https://www.additudemag.com/focus-techniques-for-distracted-children/

RTOR. (2021, May 3). Helping Children with ADHD Focus Without Medication: 7 Tips for Parents. Retrieved from RTOR: https://www.rtor.org/2021/05/03/helping-children-with-adhd-focus-without-medication-tips-for-parents/

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Sharon Connell

Sharon Connell

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