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What Factors Affect Children's Attention?

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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2016
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Children's attention spans are naturally shorter than adult attention spans, and it generally is considered important for parents and teachers to play an active role in helping to improve children's ability to pay attention. A variety of factors can affect children's attention spans. A child's upbringing, proper food and rest, and impairments such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can all affect a young person's ability to pay attention.

One way to improve on children's attention skills is for parents to work with their sons and daughters at home. Parents can slowly expose their children to situations in which they need to pay attention. Adults can teach kids from a young age that it is rude to fidget, make noise or engage in other distracting behavior when a person is speaking. Teachers also can help with the mission to make children more attentive by making their lessons kid-friendly. Younger children especially are more likely to pay attention to an interactive lesson that utilizes pictures and objects over a longer, lecture-type lesson.

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Children's attention spans also can be impacted by their daily routines and diets. Eating too many sweets can make a child hyper and less likely to want to sit still and pay attention. A parent who is struggling with a child who will not pay attention should try replacing the child's processed, sugar-filled treats with healthier snacks such as sliced fruit or celery sticks. It also is vital for children to get enough sleep at night. A child who does not get proper rest likely will be cranky and lethargic the next day, which can impact his ability to pay attention.

Some children cannot pay attention no matter how hard they try, usually because of a medical disorder. A child who struggles in school, appears constantly distracted, does not seem to be learning at the same pace as his peers and cannot seem to stay in his seat may need to be evaluated for ADHD, a common medical issue. Once a psychiatrist diagnoses a child with ADHD, he can begin treatment that will help to improve his attention span.

Methylphenidate medications are available to help suppress symptoms in people suffering from ADHD. Behavior modifications are another step in treating ADHD, because medication alone does not always solve children's attention span problems. Some children may need a specialized learning environment or a one-on-one helper to be able to handle their schoolwork. Talk therapy counseling sessions also can be beneficial for a child with ADHD.

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kylee07drg
Post 4

@shell4life – Yes, it's sad that ADHD has become so common in school kids that many people don't even believe they really have it. This is an actual disorder that requires medication.

My nephew has it, and his medication has helped him so much. I can tell if he misses a dose or two, because he cannot concentrate on anything, and he gets really hyper.

The medicine has helped him do much better at school. He will probably need it all his life, but it will help him live a regular life.

cloudel
Post 3

I think that every parent should teach their children basic manners involving paying attention. Young kids often don't even know they are being rude when they interrupt adults and fidget.

lighth0se33
Post 2

I think that great teachers are the ones who come up with lesson plans that will hold the attention of the children. No six or seven year old is going to listen to a long, boring lecture.

However, if pictures and actual things that they can come up and touch are involved, they can focus. They learn, and they also remember these lessons for years to come.

Interactive lessons are so important to young children. Learning by doing has much more of an impact than learning by simply listening to someone else talk. I can't remember much at all that my teachers said in school, but I do remember what they had the students do.

shell4life
Post 1

A child has to see a psychiatrist to get diagnosed with ADHD? Wow, I thought that regular doctors could just tell if a kid had this.

This changes my mind a bit about the accuracy of the diagnosis. I used to think that too many kids were being wrongly diagnosed of having ADHD, but if actual psychiatrists have to be involved, this gives the decision more merit.

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