Experts today say that the key to encourage a child’s attention span and make her more active is by limiting TV time.
TV time can sap a young child’s attention span.
How can we encourage children to improve their attention span and make them more active ?
According to a study published in Pediatrics, TV programs like SpongeBob, SquarePants and other fast-paced cartoons shortened the attention spans of 4-year-olds.
Overstimulation and exposure to television, computers, and video games can really hurt attention spans.
Most of the children today are being babysat by the television.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours per day of total high-quality screen time, including TV, videos, computers, phones, and video games.
(And kids under age 2 should not be exposed to any screen time and other entertainment media.)
Instead of turning on the TV or handing over the smartphone to your children, have them focus on some activities that will help increase attention spans.
Activities that children at home can be included in are –
- Read a colourful picture book for toddlers. For children beyond toddler age, give them simple story books they understand or colouring book.
- Work on a puzzle
- Help make dinner
- Build forts out of blocks
- help with household chores.
- Just turning the TV off and having a conversation with a young child can build attention.
- When parents focus on their child and listen to them, they become good role models for their children on how to pay attention.
However, if you have a child that may have attention problems that are difficult to solve with simple strategies, parents may need help from a pediatrician, or even a psychologist.
What are the red flags?
Is your 4- or 5-year-old having consistent trouble engaging with anything for more than two or three minutes? Does she need constant guidance to do an activity that should be manageable? Is she jumping from one activity to another and being unable to control impulses? Then parents may need the help of experts.
But if you have exposed the child during her toddler years in more than necessary TV and other digital exposures, then the attention span red flags mentioned here can also be a result of that.
Let’s not assume that the child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a syndrome usually diagnosed in early childhood. This syndrome is characterized by impulsivity, overactivity, inattentiveness, or a combination of all three. It is important for elders to pay attention.
Identify the cause
As experts observe, most of the children who are evaluated usually have some other deep rooted anxieties.
There are so many influencing factors. Sometimes things which we as adults may ignore could be the very source of anxiety for the child.
That is why it is important to give cognizance or acknowledge what the child is feeling. Rather than brushing it off as a child’s tantrum.
It may be hard to accept, but mental health issues, such as depression, anger, and anxiety, can also be some of the reasons that make it difficult for children to focus.
Children definitely need help in learning how to cope with these feelings.
One of the best ways is to help the child convey the feelings and assist them to put feelings into words is by giving them options. Once you start talking to the child, the next step is to help the kid do something to make her feel better. Like drawing, colouring or any activity that the child enjoys. For example, a child who throws unnecessary tantrum about going to school can be asked to make a picture as a gift for her teacher. Or also a drawing for her closest friend.
Developing any habit takes time. But time works wonders.