Does your child have difficulty concentrating? Are you getting complaints from school? Is not turning in homework becoming a problem? Is your child not listening to your directions at home? Can you relate to any or all of these issues?
Do you wish your child could concentrate better? Well, good news for everyone; important concentration skills can be taught to children.
For anybody, and particularly for children, routines are immensely important for success. I'm not saying they are fun or easy, but they are essential if concentration is the goal.
Now, everyone knows about how vital routines are for an infant: feedings, nap-time, diaper changes...I'm sure you had it down, right?
But it seems many parents start to neglect routines for their children over time. Sometimes it's a matter of having too few routines in place, or perhaps not enforcing the ones that you do have. Everyone is guilty of some or all of this.
In a classroom, a successful teacher will establish routines, not only to maintain order, but to facilitate the learning process. The less "surprises" a child has, the more they know what to expect. They know their boundaries. They gain independence. Furthermore, they are less distracted by transitions and more focused on what the teacher has to teach them. Thus, the children are better able to concentrate.
You probably have a laundry list of things you'd like your child to be able to concentrate on. To master concentration, they'll need to be able to have a strong will to do. They need the independence, desire, and ability to concentrate.
In order to help your child train their will to do, you need to set routines for them that you consistently enforce. Start these routines as soon as possible if you haven't already done so. Don't just give up and throw your hands in the air; reflect on the routines and figure out what worked and what didn't work. It's not a set in stone process, but rather maintaining routines should be a work-in-progress, constantly fine-tuning them to meet your child's needs.
An example of a routine is a bed time. Some people don't set bed times for their children because they think it's too mean or maybe too restrictive, or perhaps just a big 'ole pain in the rear to enforce every night (especially if you are a night person, and/or you like to sleep in). However, life is about routines. We wake up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and repeat the process all over again the next day.
Successful people have the self-discipline that keeps them focused throughout their day and they are able to do it with routines. Routines are not about being restrictive or rigid, but a tool to help an individual concentrate on what they have to do. In addition, routines are essential for time management, and we all know there aren't enough hours in a day.
Here's an exercise you can try at home:
Exercise: Routine Setting
Your assignment is to come up with routines for your child and to enforce them. Here are some examples:
• bed time
• time to wake up in the morning (you can buy them an alarm clock to promote their ownership over this routine)
• time to eat breakfast
• time reserved to do homework after school
• time to play
• time to read
Most likely your child will resist complying with the routines, especially if they aren't used to them. That's okay. Kids are going to test you and test rules, so you should actually expect that. Your job is to calmly never back down. Develop consequences for them and stick to it. For example, if they refuse to go to bed on time, the next day they have to go to bed five minutes earlier. Continue to do this until they learn to follow the bed time.
If you can master routines in your daily schedule, you're going to see that concentration will be easier to achieve than you previously thought.