The average child’s attention span is commonly believed to possibly be as short as their age in minutes or as long as three to five minutes per year of age. This means for example a four year old’s attention span could be anywhere from four minutes to twenty. Three to five percent of all children suffer from a decreased attention span otherwise known as attention deficit disorder or ADD.
Even if your child does not have ADD the maximum estimated attention span is still in most cases not long enough, as if attention span is under twenty-five minutes some experts feel performance in school may suffer.
This simple step by step guide on how to increase a child’s attention span will cover the things that hurt a child’s attention span, the things that improve it and foods that boost brain power to help increase attention span.
Keep in mind to remain patient in all steps of this guide. Changing the behavior of a child is a slow process. Be sure to praise your child when he/she improves but do not make them feel as if something is wrong with them if their attention span is shorter than normal.
Before you begin to actually increase your child’s attention span, it is a good idea to remove things that negatively affect a child’s attention. One of the biggest known contributors to short attention spans in children is television and its sister’s in crime, such as computers and video games.
Research suggests that every hour your child spends in front of a screen over the recommended amount increases his/her chance of attention issues by ten percent. (The recommended amount is none for kids under two, and no more than two hours a day after that.)
Toys and activities that are limited are also not recommended. These are toys that can only be played with one way, or that are based off of television, movie or book characters. These types of toys tell the child how to play with the toy which causes them to have to think less and be less creative during play.
Lastly reduce stress and improve nutrition. New studies show that the stress has actually reduced the attention span of society as a whole and improper nutrition has been linked as a cause of ADD in children.
Now that you’ve removed the things shortening your child’s attention span it’s time to move on to what will increase it.
Encourage and Support Independent Play
Find an activity that your child particularly enjoys that can be done alone. Games or activities that require thinking and creativity are preferred such as:
*Strategy or Math Games
*Reading or Writing
*Arts and Crafts
Do not choose electronic games, computer games, or television. In the beginning, you can interact with your child to keep them more interested. Over time reduce the amount of interaction you have, talk less let them concentrate. Eventually you can leave them to do this activity independently. Reading is one of the best choices to improve attention span. Make sure to let your child pick the book as holding interest is over half the battle.
Keep them Active
In a child’s life, there should be a good balance between activity and quiet concentration time. Giving your child opportunities to use up some of their excess energy will help them to focus when they need to. Not to mention physical activity also boosts blood flow the brain which helps increase intelligence as well. Yoga is an excellent choice as it is excellent exercise, relieves stress and has been shown to improve attention span to boot.
Finally as diet is one of the few known causes of ADD in children, feeding and not feeding certain foods can boost your child’s attention span as well.
Foods to Feed:
*Citrus fruits that are high in Vitamin C
*Vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants
*Foods high in iron such as meat and other proteins
*Whole grains and other complex carbohydrates
Foods to Avoid:
*Foods with synthetic additives, artificial colors, and/or preservatives
*Foods grown using pesticides
Watch for food allergies and avoid these items as these have also been linked to shorter attention spans. In short, shoot for high protein, fiber, iron, and vitamin C, but avoid highly processed and short rich foods. Even when feeding a child foods to increase attention, be sure to adhere to the food pyramid’s recommendations.
If you enjoyed this article you can find a wide range of parenting pieces also written by me here.