Top 10 Ways to Help Your Child to Focus

Are your kids bouncing off the walls? You aren't alone. Every day, parents all across the country struggle to get their children to focus. While this can be a normal part of childhood, it may not help to let it slide. A child's inability to focus can wreck havoc on their academic performance (not to mention your patience), so it can pay to find ways to address inattentiveness early. Here are some ideas to get that ball rolling.

10 ways to boost your child's focus

1. Provide food for thought.

Studies show that children who eat healthy foods tend to perform better academically than those who load up on sugary foods. Offer lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats. Also consider offering so-called "brain" foods, such as blueberries, tomatoes and fish.

2. Sleep on it.

When adults suffer from poor sleep, low energy is a giveaway. The same is true for kids who have a tendency to become even more wired and high strung than normal when exhausted. This is the result of an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for one's "second wind." If your child seems particularly wound up (which can lead to the inability to concentrate), see if he or she needs catching up on sleep.

3. Move it!

Trying to focus a child who has pent-up energy is like slowly shoveling in a blizzard--your efforts can be futile. If you notice your child is struggling or fidgeting more than usual, do something active together, like riding bikes, throwing the ball or even playing ballerina in the living room.

4. Set the scene.

Support your child's good study habits by ensuring they have a clean, well-lit space to work. Try to minimize distractions whenever possible.

5. Do your homework, too.

Sometimes the best way to encourage your child to focus is to set a good example. If your child doesn't need your direct help during study time, whip out your own work or pay bills to pass the time.

6. Math meets Mozart.

Studies have shown that listening to classical music--preferably from the Baroque period--for about 15 minutes before studying can boost focus and memory retention when performing spatial work (i.e., your kiddo's math homework).

7. Patience is a virtue.

Trying to wrangle with an unfocused child can be stressful, especially if you feel he or she just isn't listening to you. Keep your cool, speak in a calm voice and stay the course. Remember that having your own personal tantrum just condones that behavior in your own child, plus creates another study distraction.

8. Get a sense of style.

One of the best ways to help your child focus is to cater to his or her personal learning style. Some kids learn by doing while others are auditory or visual learners. Talk to your child's teacher or school counselor to determine how your child learns best.

9. Be there or be square.

One common cause of distractibility in a child is a lack of confidence on his or her part: if a child feels unable to complete a task, he or she is less likely to try. Being available to help your child work through difficult problems is a great way to mitigate this while also showing that you support him or her academically and emotionally.

10. Join the club.

Sometimes one of the best solutions for coping with an easily-distracted child is joining a local parents group. No, you won't be able to bring home a new kid, but you can bounce ideas off of other parents who may have encountered similar problems. At the very least, you can gain a sympathetic ear while your child burns off energy with the social interaction.


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Know when to get help

Have you tried everything imaginable to help your child focus? Distractibility may be a typical kid trait, but severe cases may require outside help from a tutor or therapist. Remember that lack of concentration doesn't necessarily indicate your child has a learning issue or attention disorder--sometimes social or emotional difficulties at home or school can contribute--and sometimes it could just be the personality or even the sugar.

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