It seems like these days distractions are endless, especially when it comes to your child’s daily life. Raising easily distracted children can have its challenges, but it can be pretty simple with the proper approach. The inability to stay focused is a common sign of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); however, this behavior alone is not an automatic diagnosis for your child. If you notice your children are struggling to maintain focus, try out these five methods before consulting with a physician about possible ADHD treatment.
1. Eliminate outside stimulants
According to the Center for Parenting Education, distractibility is defined as “how easily, or not so easily, things going on around your children disrupt their thought processes and attention.” It’s important to place your child in an environment with limited or no distractions at all. Those easily excited by outside stimulants should work in a quiet, secluded setting. Create a workstation that is free of unnecessary technology, especially if your child is at the age of having a cell phone. Their productivity will likely improve when you remove any visual or audio distractions. Establishing a setting where your children are most efficient will be highly beneficial to them and for you to know how to best set them up for success.
2. Create a consistent schedule
Consistency is critical when it comes to creating a routine for your child. Forming a pattern and something for your kids to expect and count on each day will keep them on task. Start by ensuring your children get enough sleep by setting them on a consistent sleep schedule. Those who are sleep-deprived are proven to have a much harder time rebounding from distractions than those who are well-rested. It also helps to include activities that aid in distractibility into their daily routine. For example, playing a sport or another activity where they can get some energy out will create a calmer mind when completing other tasks. Instilling the habit of routine in your children puts them on a solid path for productivity.
3. Make to-do lists
Many children are visual learners, so having a to-do list where they can visually cross off completed items will keep them from straying off task. Planning out your day with your child also creates clear expectations; there is little to no room for interpretation. Maintaining your kids’ focus is easier when they are interested in the activity. Therefore, keep your energy and tone of voice light and happy so that even mundane tasks like chores or homework sound appealing. Young children will be excited at the feeling of self-accomplishment that comes from completing their daily checklist.
4. Allow for more time than expected
If you’re noticing your child struggles with staying on task, getting angry and pressuring them won’t fix the problem. Next time they are tasked with an assignment, allow for more time than you would typically provide. Also, sometimes a short five-ten minute break is what your child needs in order to regain focus. Take a brisk walk, grab a snack, or simply change their scenery when you suggest a work break. Frequent breaks may elongate the process overall, but in the long run, they will keep your child less distracted.
5. Get on their eye level
Getting on your child’s eye level is exactly how it sounds. When speaking to your child, bend or squat down so you can engage in eye contact. This method may sound like a silly or obvious solution, but it is certainly effective in attracting and maintaining your child’s attention. Ensuring you have their eye contact eliminates their ability to look off elsewhere and potentially miss whatever you’re attempting to communicate.
If you notice your child is still easily distracted after testing out these methods, they may be experiencing ADHD. Treating children with this disorder is one of our primary services at HealthPark Pediatrics. Request a consultation or call us at 919-896-7066 to speak with any of our board-certified physicians.