Are you tired of repeating yourself? Having your child’s mind wander to inane places? Having trouble getting that homework done. Well, I’ll tell you it is never easy. Getting kids to be focused is a battle of wills. You have to get them to drop what they want to do and focus on what they need to do.
Processing a any instruction to achieve success ties into developing focus & strong listening skills.
My son has a strong imagination, my daughter has a stubborn streak. Both of them together, have often made me want to pull my hair out. Yet, I have over time and thanks to the many conversations I have had with mothers around the world are helping them be confident and empathic as human beings.
There are always aspects of growing up we constantly work on but focus & listening are huge. Here are some things that have helped me.
Playing Board Games
A wonderful way to help your kids build focus is playing board games. Not to let them win, but for the best player to win. A lot of parents make the mistake of letting their kids win. The most important reason to play well with your child and explain the rules is that they have to follow the rules, pay attention to the other players and of course strategy building, and losing is a wonderful bonus to developing empathy. So far, we play chess, monopoly, zingo etc and we always play the whole game. One game at a time.
Play dates with Friends Without Gadgets
When a child has a play date, a lot of ideas come into play. They encourage each other. They learn to focus onto plans they have. Recently, my kids created a movie where they enacted scenes. They create whole worlds together. Pick things from around the house and create a battle plan or play dress up. All this needs focus on working together and paying attention to each other.
Taking up any extra curricular activity is a wonderful way for kids to learn to listen to others. Children are often free at home, to behave as they will. But in an outside setting, with a coach to work with, instructions to follow teaches them to listen and be concise about following step by them. My kids currently are in gymnastics, swimming, dance and Tae Kwan Do. Now, I have reasons for doing all 4 but one activity at a time is great as well. My son used to have a hard time listening, but now I have seen him grow focused and even grow to love. The condition of course is for your child to love the activity to begin with. I have mentioned in my book how to discover and build a love for a passion to follow in their life time.
Give Your Child Time to Transition
We as parents often forget to give our children time to build the buffer in which to change tasks. You wouldn’t go to a co worker and tell them to do something you need, instantly. Why do we expect the same of your child? Tell your children, ” In 15 mins, we are going to sit down for homework. ” Your child is already doing something or desires to do something. Your request comes in the way of what they have in mind. Have empathy for that.
Have a Rough Routine and Plan
When you tell them to find socks in the morning, they are half awake and flustered. Plan your day roughly, together. For every party, homework, school, occasions, talk about what the day is going to entail so they know what to expect. The day may not go exactly as expected but knowing that they are going to work on something or something is expected of them is a great way. This is an important reason why homework time should be set up each day and why many kids who are in after care flourish for they know what to expect of each day.
Have Some Chores Assigned
Doing chores is a great way to build listening skills as well as focus. The simple task of helping sort laundry or put shoes in a cabinet, needs a child to work on their cognitive skills. They don’t even have to be daily but something that they know they are expected to do. My kids both clean up their rooms, sort toys, empty the dishwasher, help take the recycling out etc.
Give Your Child Time for Themselves
A restless child will probably not listen, will not focus. If their day is packed back to back, even if they are in line, in the beginning, they will surely get surly eventually. This leads to tantrums and clingi-ness. When a child has to do something they have to do, they know they will get the time they need to do their own thing. Time for themselves is a wonderful way to build imagination as well.
Teach Kids Goal Setting & Prioritizing
This is for older kids to build confidence and learn to plan better. Self regulation means knowing how to break down big tasks into smaller ones and how to make them happen. The step by step ways to do so is mentioned below.
Talk to Your Children Without Agenda
Kids can be distracted by “internal stimuli,” like physical sensations or entertaining memories. Reading to your kids and having them do stuff is all great, but making sure you talk to your children just for the sake of talking teaches them to focus on YOU, your words, listen to you and respond appropriately.
I often talk to my kids about my day, the good and the bad and we discuss our days and how we can better handle our situations and what we can be grateful for.
Understand, It is a Journey
When I was a young mother, worrying about my child’s potty training, someone said to me, “Why do you worry? It’s not like they are going to walk down the aisle in a diaper. ” And this applies to almost everything. Breathe, my friend. Teaching kids focus and listening skills take time. It takes a lot of consistency and years and you still find days when you feel like what are you even doing! Remember the good days on such times and keep going.