Article by: Halima Benmiloud for OurKids.net, Canada’s trusted source for camps and schools.
Do you think your child may have trouble concentrating? Is he or she constantly glancing around or off into space when they should be studying or focusing more closely on a given task?
If impulsiveness, inattention, aggression, learning difficulties, hyperactivity symptoms seem to describe your child then it’s likely you are one of tens of thousands battling this common childhood problem.
Focus and concentration difficulties are the source of much aggravation for parents, teachers and other children alike. The consequences of lack of concentration can lead to children being easily distracted, easily irritable, difficulties with reading and writing, and forgetfulness.
The following are just a few ways to improve your child’s concentration levels:
- Promote a healthy diet— Nowadays, children have an increased intake of processed foods, saturated fats and sugary foods. Studies have shown that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and veggies will help your child’s brain functions. As well, studies have shown that parents should shy away from foods that have food colouring in them, as they may increase hyperactivity in children.
- Set Routines—It’s a great thing to have a routine (time for sleep, chores, homework), a ritual of things for your child to do. Your child will get into a pattern and patterns help children know what is supposed to happen next, making them think less about how to possibly entertain themselves and therefore lose concentration on the present. Figure out a regular routine that will suit you and your child, and make sure your nanny or after-school caregiver respects it too.
- Control the use of television and electronics—Experts agree that kids under two years old should not watch TV at all and children that are older than two should be only allowed one to two hours a day. The same rules should be applied to your older children because too much TV and electronics can prevent them from doing intellectual and physical activities like, reading, doing homework, playing outside, and interacting with friends and with family.
- Exercise more often—Both mental and physical exercise are very important to help your child concentrate better. For mental exercises, try playing board games that stimulate your child to think strategically and focus. Guessing games or even allowing them to help you cook by reading or following recipes. For physical exercise, it has been scientifically proven that children that do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day are more likely to do well in school, focus better and generally be more positive.
- Help children with scholastic pressure—Don’t be an absentee homework parent. When your child comes home from school with homework, sit down and do their homework with them. Turn it into a game, where if they get a certain amount of answers right they get a prize. The quality time with you and the joy that you put into the act of doing homework will make them concentrate better.
- Organize daily activities—While this is not always possible, try to plan different activities for your child as often as possible, so that each day they have something to look forward to. One night invest in a piñata, another have family game night. When they know they have something exciting to look forward to, they will be happier during the day and often participate more in class. Better yet, tell them that they will only get to participate in this new daily activity once they finish their homework, chores…etc.
- Be honest and open with your child—Your children pick up on everything whether you believe they do or not. If something is going on within the family, talk to your child about his or her feelings. The stress of the tension that might or might not be going on within the household could cause your child to act out in school and could be the leading cause of the lack of concentration.
- Supplement with proper essential fatty acids—Studies have shown that children who supplement their diet with essential fatty acids (EFA’s) such as EPA, DHA and GLA, have a better chance of avoiding neurological disorders and learning disabilities like ADHD, depression, anxiety, dyslexia and dyspraxia. Children that are already deficient in EFA’s are susceptible to have cardiovascular problems, abnormalities of the liver and kidney, reduced growth, dry skin, reduced immune system functions and various psychological disorders. The right EFA supplementation can help with inattention, writing and reading, cognitive problems, and other behavioural difficulties like concentration and ADHD symptoms. Make sure to purchase a supplement that offers at least 500 mg of EPA and 150 mg of DHA in its daily dose, with a EPA/DHA/GLA ratio of 9:3:1.
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