4 Tips to Help your Child's Attention skills

It is normal for small children to have short attention spans, they are learning about the world and excited to move on to the next activity. However if you have one of those children who just never seems to stay still and concentrate on anything for more than 30 seconds, here are some tips for how you could help them:

1) Limit the number of toys available at any one time. Having too many toys out can be a distraction as children move from one to the other before fully exploring the possibilities the first toy has to offer. It also means that children can get 'bored' of toys quickly when they play with them all within the first hour of a day! Try putting all your child's toys away e.g. In a toy box, and just get out 3 at a time for your child to choose from. Leave those 3 out for the whole morning, then put them away and get another 3 out in the afternoon.

2) Turn the television off if you aren't watching it. A lot of people have the TV on 'in the background', because they like the noise and the feeling of company. If this is you and you aren't concerned about your child's attention and listening then fine, but if you are concerned then consider turning it off if it isn't being watched. When the tv is on in the background you will often find that children ignore it and play for awhile, then watch it for a few minutes, then go back to playing. This means that they aren't fully  focusing on watching tv or playing, but rather flitting between the two depending on which is the most interesting at one given moment. This constant movement between the most appealing activities rather than seeing an activity through to completion is the hallmark of inattention.  If you can't switch it off all day try to at least have a bit of time each day where it is off.

3) Give your child opportunities to experience what it is like to finish a task rather than move away from it. To do this give them lots of really short tasks which are manageable to finish, and give them lots of praise when they have completed it.
- doing small puzzles together (e.g. 3 pieces). 
- putting a bag of shopping away which only has a few items in
- 'parking' your child's cars when she/he has finished playing with them
- clearing the table after a meal.
- putting dirty clothes in the washing machine

4) Be a good role model. Make sure your child sees you finishing tasks and talking about it. If you are doing the ironing you could count down how many items of clothes before you have finished, if you are cooking you could talk about what you have to do before you finish preparing the meal etc. Your child will see you focus your attention and stay with a task, and with time will learn to do the same.

If you are on the lookout for more tips to help with your child's speech and langauge skills don't forget to have a look through the learn section of this website, and use the banner at the top of the page to sign up for our free newsletter to receive weekly tips to your email.

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