5 Tips for Raising Your Distracted Child: How to Parent a Child With Focus Issues
Parenting can be a very enjoyable process. Parenting can provide you with so much joy as you watch your children grow up. However, as any parent knows, there are challenges that come with raising kids, as well. For instance, there are many children who have focus issues to some extent. If you have a child with focus issues, you should know that there are many things you can do to help them.
Following are 5 important tips for parenting a child with focus issues.
Explain Your Child’s Challenges to Them in a Positive Way
Many children do not fully understand the effects of their focus issues and this can be very confusing for them when they go to a time-out, to the Responsible Thinking Classroom at school or even get grounded. Focus issues in children can cause many problems in their life but that does not mean that your child is a bad child. In fact, learning about and dealing with these issues in a positive way can really help them to grow as a person. If you can help your child to better understand their issues with focus, you can teach them how to overcome their problems.
Some ways you can explain your child’s challenges with remaining focused include discussing what focusing actually is, discussing why it is important for everyone to be able to control their own focus (or “attention”) throughout day to day life, and by explaining to your child what problems can arise when a person’s attention gets off track (provide examples from your child’s and your own experience).
It is also beneficial to address the positive things that come with being a bit distracted, such as creativity, being able to come up with stories, noticing new things, paying attention to important things that need attended to (such as a mom hearing that her baby is crying in the other room or your child being able to move his focus from one activity to another such as mom calling him for dinner, etc.).
Get Your Child on a Consistent Schedule
Children who have focus issues become even more distracted and off task when they do not follow a consistent schedule. As a parent, you can work with your child on setting up a consistent schedule. In order to help your child gain even more life skills, you can allow them to help you create the schedule. Many children do great with visual scheduling. Allow your child to help you write down the time and the task of the activity for the day and then next to the activity have your child draw a picture relating to the activity.
An alternative is to have your child help you select images from the computer and create your schedule on the computer and then print it off. You can then laminate the schedule and let your child cross things off throughout the day as they finish them or just use the schedule as a reference to look at frequently. This is very important to also help your child with independence and self-help skills as they learn to be able to manage their day without a million reminders from you.
Allow Your Child to Take Frequent Breaks
While many parents understandably want their child to accomplish so much in a certain amount of time, many children (especially those with focus issues) are not able to do this without getting very distracted when they are expected to complete many tasks in a certain amount of time. This is where allowing your child to take frequent breaks can really help them to succeed. Sometimes children just need a 10 minute breather to regain their focus.
An example for this would be to have your child work on homework for 15 minutes and then take a 5 minute break or something similar to this.
Another example is regarding an evening/bedtime routine. (This seems to work well in my house.) If your child is expected to do quite a few things at the end of the day, having them do just half of the routine (while they are also able to use a visual schedule) will increase their focus because the job does not seem as impossible to do as it does when they have the whole list to look at.
Take Away the Distractions
There are many children who get distracted by everything. This could be noises, a toy across the room or too many students or people in one room (even if these other children are being silent). If your child gets easily distracted, you can try to take away some of these distractions.
Work with your child’s teacher to see if you can make a plan such as allowing your child space away from other children to complete homework or simply for her to be aware that noises and other things can become a distraction for your child. Maybe she can work on keeping these distractors to a minimum.
At home, you can make sure to have a special area for your child to complete homework to help them stay focused such as a specific desk that is clean and organized.
Talk at Your Child’s Level
While many children do have issues staying focused while working on schoolwork, they may also have problems staying focused during a conversation. If you notice that your child is constantly looking away from you when you are talking or that they are talking out of turn, this may because they aren’t focused enough. If this is the case, talk at your child’s level. This means to bend or squat down to be at eye to eye level with your child instead of talking to him from a distance across the room or even from the distance of you standing up as an adult. This can help your child to focus better, because there is less room for distractions and it is easier to focus on someone closer by.
Raising a child with focus issues can have its difficulties, but if you follow these 5 tips you can help your child grow in their attention span and focusing abilities, their maturity level, their self-esteem, and as a person overall.
Feel free to leave a comment below about any other tips you have that other parents might find useful when raising a child with focusing issues.
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Gilmore, H. (2015). 5 Tips for Raising Your Distracted Child: How to Parent a Child With Focus Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2017, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/child-therapist/2015/02/5-tips-for-raising-your-distracted-child-how-to-parent-a-child-with-focus-issues/