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What Factors Affect the Attention Span of Children?

Hyperactivity may be a sign of ADHD in children.
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  • Written By: Nya Bruce
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 11 April 2014
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Under normal circumstances, the attention span of children should progressively improve through the early stages of life. For some, however, certain conditions can cause adverse effects that emerge during a child's school years and last into adulthood. These factors include anemia, excessive use of electronic entertainment at an early age, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). There are also, however, factors that can have a positive effect on attention span. Involvement in crafts and activities, caring for pets and having a well-balanced diet may all have a positive affect on children.

One of the main causes of a shortened attention span of children is iron deficiency anemia. This is a condition in which a lack of iron results in a diminished amount of blood cells that carry oxygen through the blood. If this condition becomes severe enough, it can impact a child's attention span and cognitive functions.

ADHD is a condition in which children may suffer from inattention and hyperactivity. This is a problem that physicians will check for when it comes investigating the lack of attention span in some children. In some cases a doctor may diagnose a child that only has poor attention span as having ADHD, even if hyperactivity is not present. This condition is often improved with the help of medications and certain types of therapy.

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Excessive watching of television may have a negative impact on the attention span of children. When younger children are allowed to watch television or play video games for hours, it can impair their ability to focus as older children. The fast-moving images found on television may over-stimulate young minds and create an inability to focus during a time when the mind is developing.

Positive measures and activities can be taken to lengthen and improve the attention span of children. Bringing home a pet and involving the child in its care is one way to do this. Children will focus not only on its care, but also in playing with the new animal. Participating in arts and crafts also helps to improve their ability to pay attention longer by stimulating their minds and encouraging creativity. This includes other activities, such as providing children with adequate playtime using toys such as puzzles.

Providing children with a well-balanced diet can also help to resolve attention problems. Lack of proper nutrition can shorten a child's attention span and make it difficult to concentrate. In many cases eating breakfast before school can help children to better pay attention during the day.

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Discuss this Article

OeKc05
Post 4

Some people think that children are diagnosed with ADHD too often. I don't know whether the screening process is the same for kids as it is for adults, but the test for adult ADHD is pretty lengthy and thorough.

My husband had to see a psychiatrist and pay $400 just for the diagnosis. I wonder if children also have to be seen by psychiatrists instead of general practitioners in order to get this diagnosis?

feasting
Post 3
@Perdido – TV can make a child's brain really disappointed with real life. Things are so colorful and happen so quickly on the screen, so their little minds come to expect things like this to happen around them. When things move slowly and aren't all that flashy, it bores them and they can't focus on them.

I think a good age for introducing a kid to TV is 3. However, you should still be careful what you let your child watch. Instead of cartoons that are super flashy and quick, you might go for some program designed to help kids learn.

I really don't recall watching much TV at all as a child. I do have memories of playing with blocks and doing little problem solving activities like puzzles, and those are some of my favorite memories. I think this is why I have a good attention span today.

Perdido
Post 2

I didn't know that watching TV could hurt a child's attention span! Should I just keep the TV off around the house until my child is a certain age, or is it okay for her to watch a little TV now and then? What age should she be before I let her watch it?

orangey03
Post 1

It definitely helps to feed a kid fruit and toast for breakfast instead of sugary donuts or sweetened cereals. My mother always gave me a banana and some buttered whole wheat toast before sending me off to school, and I had no trouble concentrating.

I had this friend who ate a totally sweet breakfast of either donuts or snack cakes every day, and she was so hyper. She just couldn't keep her mind on learning at all, and she often caused trouble in class.

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