Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, increasing focus is important to many parents. Our culture is concerned with diagnoses of disorders and our children’s abilities to focus for long stretches.
For some children, medication may be the right route. But I do know there are natural, design-based ways of helping people focus that I feel should be utilized before medical intervention. Here you’ll find 20 ways to increase focus naturally that have been proven by hundreds around the world.
I believe there are large variations in attention span and temperament that we can attribute simply to the diversity of the human experience. I feel we can view this as a strength and not the disorder it’s painted to be.
That being said, the ability to focus for long stretches can serve us and is worth supporting. These are some of the most effective ways to increase focus naturally and without medication.
Define lack of focus correctly.
Can they focus when they’re interested? If so, there is more likely a problem with the material and what your child is being asked to focus on.
Set reasonable expectations.
Educate yourself about child development and understand your child’s temperament. Don’t compare them to other children. Attune to the reality of that person and their specific experience.
Follow your child’s interests.
Do they learn best moving or with interaction? Do they need to be asking questions? Do they enjoy creating art or making music? Think about the modalities that support these interests and make decisions that honor those.
Unstructured time outside.
Nature is always in balance. The color is soothing. There is the perfect amount of stimulation, different textures, and sensory input. Get into nature for hours every day.
When a child is fidgety it’s an indication they feel cramped. His body is yelling to get out and get moving. When time outside isn’t an option, providing a movement zone creates an outlet for that energy.
In my experience, and there is plenty of literature to support this, lots of healthy, vegan fats and eliminating sugars, dairy, and gluten drastically improves the brain and body’s abilities to support cognitive retention and sustain attention.
Many children are not getting enough sleep. Adjust your routines if necessary to be sure your child gets plenty of sound, healthy sleep. One of my favorite ways to accomplish this is with an early bedtime.
Simplify the schedule.
Fewer activities, transitions, and places to go provides the appropriate environment for sinking into focused play.
Set Predictable Routines in Place.
Flexible but predictable and reliable schedules help liberate us from the frenzy of transitions.
Less stuff means less visual clutter and distraction. Studies have shown that children will sustain play for longer periods of time when they have fewer toys available to them.
Exposure to screens stimulates the brain, drastically decreasing the ability to focus. Consciously limit screens to dedicated times and avoid having them in the vicinity while your child plays.
DO NOT interrupt.
Our movements and comments are distracting during play. Give your child a YES space where he can play safely and independently without distractions.
Acknowledge and take note to yourself when you notice your child focusing and developing their ability to play for longer stretches.
Do not label.
Your child is exactly who he or she needs to be. Placing a label like “distracted,” or “attention problem” will serve no purpose. They focus the way they’re meant to right now.
Be aware of the auditory distractions in the environment. Provide soothing music or an audiobook that keeps them in the flow of what they’re doing.
We often don’t consider how the smell of our surroundings affects our attention. There are many essential oils that can be relaxing and improve concentration.
Enough sensory input.
Many children need this sensory input to be able to focus. This might mean stimulation for their fingers and hands or gentle pressure or movement for their bodies.
Bring attention back to the task.
Demonstrate focused interest in something to attract their focus back to a task.
Encourage and reflect persistence.
Model for your child how to come back to a task and re-engage.
Help them work through frustrations.
Coach through emotions that become obstacles by scaffolding and helping them work through a problem to build intrinsic motivation.