5 Brain-Boosting tips to improve your child’s concentration
It’s best to start off by saying that children are active and full of energy; they’re meant to get distracted every now and then. Unlike adults, children concentrate when they are interested in the task at hand. Adults have to do the task whether we like it or not. In saying this, there are ways to improve a child’s concentration, especially if they are overly distracted. We’ve listed five quick brain-boosting tips.
1 | Screen-free/Gadget-free Play
Our modern world is jam-packed with digital distractions. Television, iPads, phones, digital watches, or anything that is a gadget is designed for humans to find addictive and diverting. Every parent knows the lure of a screen.
A growing body of literature is connecting immoderate and addictive screen time usage with physical, psychological, social, and neurological adverse consequences
In short, studies have shown that screen time:
- inhibits young children’s ability to read faces and learn social skills, two key contributors needed to develop empathy. Speech delay is one of the factors studies have associated with screen time.
- detracts from activities that help boost their brainpower, like play and interacting with other children.
- is highly addictive. Screen use releases dopamine in the brain, which can negatively affect impulse control. Dr. Kathryn Lorenz, MD, Upper Valley Family Medicine explains that studies have shown screen time affects the frontal cortex of the brain, similar to the effect of cocaine. Like drugs, screen time has been shown to create a pleasure/reward cycle.
- Reduces opportunities for boredom. Yes, you read that correctly. Boredom is something a child must experience in order to become creative. Boredom is a gift that is robbed from many modern children.
- can contribute to or cause depression and anxiety.
The less children are exposed to digital distractions, the greater their chance of concentration for the task at hand, and any task in the future. It’s best to place boundaries on screen time – the shorter they spend on one, the better.
Outside play has the opposite effect. When children are playing outside, naturally they are releasing more energy. They aren’t told to run around or play in the dirt or climb a tree or kick a ball, their desire is to do these things. They begin to exercise without being told to do so; they create a healthy activity for themselves without realising it. Positive hormones are released and the great outdoors lessens their restrictions. Their imagination begins to run wild. Their experimentation with balance, the laws of gravity and nature develops. They become the explorer.
When their time is up, the exercise and the brain-power used to balance, focus, question and explore has released a lot of their energy and they are better prepared to concentrate on a less exciting task.
2 | Routine
Routines make concentrating easier. When a child is told that it’s time for homework, their disappointment might heighten if it’s not at a regular time most days of the week. If they know that they are to begin their homework at a certain time, or after a certain activity (like outside play), they are more likely to be prepared for what is ahead of them.
Their expectation begins to settle in and they begin to realise the quicker they get into the task, the quicker it’s completed.
3 | Take more frequent breaks
If a child’s homework load takes them too long, it’s best to incorporate mini breaks every 20 minutes depending on their age. During those breaks, incorporating a quick physical activity – like doing 10 kick ups or running around the garden, helps to give a break to different parts of the brain.
However, if you find that incorporating physical activity outside during ‘break-time’ is more distracting, and you can’t get them inside after their break is finished, then a simple task such as getting a drink from the kitchen or doing 10 indoor-safe kick ups with the IQ Ball will help to act as a suitable break.
4 | Break big tasks into smaller chunks
If your child is shown a workbook that he/she needs to complete, or a new skill he/she needs to acquire, the child will feel more confident if the task/skill is broken into stages. Set mini goals so that the child can complete the goal and feel like they have accomplished something. Whenever our coaches teach a new skill at the IQ Football Academy, we like to show the development of it in stages. This helps players to concentrate during the task, and build confidence, (as they begin to achieve each stage), to take on the next one.
5 | Use their imagination
During times when a child is very distracted, suggest that they close their eyes and breathe deeply. Then ask them to imagine themselves completing the task with flying colours. Ask them to imagine them doing the skill. Ask them questions about what they are picturing.
Our IQ Football coaches like to ask our players to picture themselves achieving the task before they begin to physically execute it.
Try using this little tip as often as possible. This will get them into a powerful habit of visualisation that will not only assist them with concentration but will come in handy at all stages of their life.
Have you found another way to help your child concentrate? Leave us a comment below!