How To Help Your Child Improve Their Focus and Attention Span

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With all of the devices and distractions around these days it can be difficult for children to learn to focus for a period of time.

There has also been a rise in children being diagnosed with ADHD and the exact contributing factors are still unknown. Medication is a key treatment in helping improve attention and focus in kids with ADHD.

However, medication doesn’t always work for everyone and, even if it is effective, it is only one part of a holistic management plan.

The following things can help improve your child’s focus:

Exercise

Kids need exercise. It is good for muscle development and growth, helping build their balance, coordination and over all physical health.

However, we often forget the brain is a muscle too! Exercise promotes the release of endorphines, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin from the brain which all help concentration and overall ability to focus.

For kids with ADHD, whose ability to sit still and concentrate for long periods of time is limited, brain breaks and recess are a particularly valuable part of the school day.

Some schools are starting to recognise this, such as a school in Texas, USA, who have tripled their recess breaks and noticed a dramatic improvement in areas such as attention, academic results and school attendance.

Of course, school playtime doesn’t replace dedicated exercise and ADHD kids particularly benefit from structured activities such as individual and team sports, bushwalking, bike riding or swimming.

Different types of activity and exercise are also very beneficial for children with sensory issues.

Diet

There is a lot of discussion and debate around the affect additives and preservatives have on ADHD. While there is no hard and fast evidence, there are some that you may wish to look at eliminating.

What evidence does tell us though is that supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are important for brain and nerve cell function. Zinc, Iron, Magnesium and Vitamin C are also important for brain and nervous system function.

A balanced diet with protein and complex carbohydrates is essential for any child, but starting your ADHD child off with a good nutritional foundation will definitely help support mood and mental focus. Breakfast is a must!

Avoiding sugar is also obviously beneficial as is identifying any “trigger” foods that may impact your child’s behaviour.

A helpful guide on a healthy ADHD diet is available here.

Routine

All children thrive on routine, however the ADHD mind really benefits from the structure of a routine to get through the day.

As poor executive function – planning, completing tasks, memory – is a major element of ADHD, a consistent routine helps to train the brain. Ingrained routine allows headspace to focus on other things, as they already know what is expected of them.

Checklists are great way to support routine and prompt your child to remember the steps required in a task.

They can be effective for routines such as getting ready for school, getting ready for bed, household chores etc.

Think about where your child is struggling to see if a routine and/or checklist can assist them.

These are just some of the ways you can adjust your child’s lifestyle to improve their focus, obviously each child is different and there lots of holistic management.

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Renee Meier

Renée is a freelance writer, perpetual student and aspiring novelist. In her spare time she's the sole parent to 3 rambunctious little people. She survives predominantly on coffee and squishy hugs.

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