To at least some degree, all preschoolers will display some difficulty in paying attention, particularly when dealing with things that they don’t find especially fun or interesting. However, if you think your child’s attention issues may be something more, or if you simply want to help your child learn to pay closer attention, the following tips may help.
Age-Related or Something More?
Preschoolers are like little sponges, and they absorb the world around them at an astronomical rate. Their little minds are sometimes so focused on one thing that attempting to pay attention to something else is all but impossible. There’s a difference between a simple age-related attention span issue and full-blown ADHD, however. The best way to rule out the latter is to familiarize yourself with typical milestones for preschoolers and ensure your child is meeting them. If not, a visit to your child’s pediatrician for further testing and evaluation may be in order.
Managing Attention Issues
Attention problems among preschoolers are certainly common, but there are some things you can do to help your child pay closer attention – even when he or she seems disinterested in the subject matter at hand. Here are some of the best ways you can help.
- Give your child frequent breaks. Preschoolers who display attention issues should be given a chance to take breaks and move around. Often, this movement can recharge their little minds and get them ready for another opportunity to learn or listen.
- Teach in different ways. Boredom is another common denominator among children who have attention issues, and one of the best ways to prevent it is to utilize a variety of methods to present new information to your child. Games are excellent choices, as are physical activities that help to demonstrate the lesson.
- Give your preschooler a signal. When you want your preschooler to pay attention, simply asking for it is not enough. Try a physical signal between you and your child, such as a gentle tap on the shoulder or getting down to his or her level and saying, “Listen carefully” with your hands on his or her shoulders. These can refocus your child and help him or her really understand.
- Minimize distractions. If there’s one thing that can be said of preschoolers, they are easily distracted by just about anything and everything. Do your best to minimize this by turning off the television, shutting off the games, and removing toys and other goodies from the area.
- Provide time to calm down. If your child has trouble relaxing – as many children with attention issues do – it’s important that you build calm-down time into your daily routine. Try a lavender-scented lotion half an hour before bedtime every day, read a favorite book, or even give your little one a glass of milk and a banana before bed every day. These things, over time, will signal to your child that it is time to get ready for rest.
Attention issues don’t always allude to the notion that your child has a condition requiring medication, but only your pediatrician and your child’s healthcare team can make that decision. In the meantime, try the tips above to help gently guide your child into a longer and more appropriate attention span.