Four Questions I Am Often Asked About Attention Issues in Children
Parents often wonder if their child has difficulty paying attention. They wonder what is appropriate to expect and what should cause them to be concerned. They wonder what they can do to help their child in paying attention at home and school. Here, we discuss some frequently asked questions about attention issues in children.
How can I know if my child has attention difficulties??
Most children are forgetful and inattentive at times – they become nervous, fidgety and somewhat impulsive. Attention issues are not the presence of these behaviors, but the degree to which it manifests. Children with attention issues may show any/all of the following characteristics.
- Gets easily bored – loses interest in tasks quickly.
- Shifts between tasks without completing them.
- Finds it difficult to finish tasks that require longer to complete.
- Has difficulty following instructions
- Seems not to listen.
- Blurts out answers without thinking.
- Makes careless mistakes.
- Does not pay attention to detail and tends to miss information.
- Loses belongings often.
- Can’t seem to sit still.
- Can focus on tasks they enjoy- but not for repetitive tasks or tasks they consider boring (homework, chores etc.)
- Seem to day dream.
- Seem to “tune out” of conversations.
- Does things without thinking of the consequences.
Stressful situations, allergies, asthma, diabetes, hearing or vision problems, iron deficiencies, lead intoxication, medication side effects or thyroid problems can produce symptoms that mimic attention deficiencies, however – based on neurological evidence – bad parenting, laziness, poor motivation, or low intelligence are never a cause.
What are the consequences of attention issues if not addressed?
Attention issues usually come in various sizes. They can range from mild issues to more severe issues such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Irrespective of the severity of attention issues- mild or severe, it has the potential to hamper learning abilities of an individual.
Young children with attention issues find it difficult to follow instructions such as “Stay in your seat, raise your hand, follow directions, you have 5 minutes to finish the task” etc.
The situation worsens for older students with attention issues. They are often faced with large scale or long term projects requiring independence and self-direction, frequent class changes, new environments, change of teachers with contrasting rules and personalities etc. Combine these factors with normal developmental changes, and the mix is especially problematic.
Attention deficit has serious implications. Some of the more serious long term consequences are: failure, dropout, depression, conduct disorders, unsuccessful relationships, workplace underachievement, and even substance abuse.
Symptoms of attention or learning deficits are often misunderstood for laziness, lack of motivation, or limited intelligence. Memorization is excessively difficult for students with attention issues. Many feel inadequate, avoid homework, need several reminders to get started and lose motivation through frustration – but they are neither dumb nor lazy.
They most likely lack specific cognitive strengths and strategies that make learning easier.
Can my child’s attention skills be improved??
As hard as it may seem to believe, attention skills CAN improve!
The good news is that the brain is capable of change. Neuro-scientific research shows that attention is a cognitive skill-set that can be improved and developed. Neuroscience shows that—by targeting and stimulating the underactive region of the brain (prefrontal cortex) responsible for characteristics of inattention—attention can be strengthened.
Attention develops when a person performs a task requiring attention while exposed to structured distractors. This designed intensity and distraction is at the core of cognitive skills training aimed at improving attention.
Many a times, the perceived solution to a child’s attention difficulties are “accommodations” like removing distractions, reducing workload, or isolating students into quiet areas. This may allow better performance temporarily, but it does nothing to develop the cognitive skill of attention, and does little to equip the child to face real life situations.
At Steps to Miles, we believe that children with attention difficulties deserve the opportunity to overcome their limitations. Appropriate cognitive training, not accommodation, creates that opportunity.
What can I do to help my child?
Failing to pay attention, making careless errors, and having difficulty sustaining attention are the most common symptoms. Consequences of these symptoms on learning and academic/ vocational progress can be devastating. Try these simple tips to improve attention skills:
Several studies have indicated that certain foods can have an impact on an individual’s attention skills. Watch your child’s diet carefully to understand what triggers inattention
in your child. This will help you avoid these triggers especially at times when paying attention is important.
Games are sometimes a great way to improve a child’s attention. Try some of the below games which may improve your child’s attention.
- Statue: Count to a random number between 1 and 10. Ask your child
to make funny faces, dance or do some silly actions. Stop abruptly and
say Statue. At this time, your child has to freeze in whatever position he/ she is. You can either see how long they can go or set a time limit they need to reach in order to win.
- Table top games: Spot the difference, jigsaw puzzles, coloring or painting by number, crossword puzzles etc.
We understand that as a parent, it is heartbreaking to see you child struggle because of attention issues. If you would like to talk us regarding your child, please feel free to contact us on 03 9853 3656, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our Contact Form and we will get in touch with you soon.
If you want to determine what is causing your child’s difficulties, you can book a cognitive skills assessment with us. We have years of experience dealing with students struggling with attention issues and our program has already benefitted over 96,000 students’ world over by improving their cognitive skills and making learning easier for them- which is our true mission. The program is non- academic and fun but at the same time challenging and has life long benefits.
i) Please note that the above article does not substitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor or psychologist for a medical diagnosis.
ii) The content of this article is based on research by LearningRx (parent company of BrainRx). Please visit learningrx.com for more information on the research.