How to Teach Your Child to Concentrate
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Most children naturally possess the gift of concentration but sadly it is often lost in the process of growing up. Perhaps because we continually try to get them to concentrate on things that we want them to concentrate on rather than on the things that they want to concentrate on!
Successful people in all fields have the ability to concentrate - to "get in the flow" - at will. Watch a great sportsman, artist, writer or craftsperson at work and you will soon see that this is
How can we help our children learn concentration as the important skill that it is, rather than something that happens only when they are engrossed in play, computer games or worse, TV? How can we teach them the value of this skill so that they can use it to their benefit in school and in later
This article will give you ways to communicate to your child the importance and a true appreciation of how they concentrate, and how they can use the skill at will to make their lives more enjoyable, productive and
The Skill of Concentration
The first thing you want to do is make your child aware of what concentration is, how to recognize the feelings he gets when he is concentrating, and how to recognize what happens when his concentration is
Before you start talking to your child about these things, spend a few days observing him. Try to answer these questions:
- What is my child doing when he seems to be concentrating hard?
- How long does he spend on these activities at a time?
- How easy is it to distract him during these periods of concentration? If I speak quietly to him, does he hear
Once you have a basic understanding of your child's patterns of concentration, you can usefully start talking to him about it. In order to explain to your child what concentration is, first help him to recognize concentration in others:
- "Look at Daddy reading the paper. He looks like he is concentrating really hard! Did you see just now I asked him if he wants a coffee, and he just went "hmmm" - he can hardly hear me, because he is concentrating so hard!"
- "See the cat on the lawn, what's he looking at? Do you think he's after mice? See how he is concentrating all of his attention on the grass under the bush? Cats are very good hunters, because they can concentrate so well."
- "Look at your baby sister eating her dinner. She is still learning to use her spoon; she is concentrating very hard on getting her food in her mouth! We learn well when we are
Next, help your child to recognize concentration in himself. Wait for a time when he is concentrating very hard on something, preferably an activity rather than something passive like watching TV. Watch him carefully, but don't talk to him until he completes the activity and his concentration naturally breaks - you will recognize this because you will see him suddenly become aware of his surroundings as his period of concentration comes to an end. Now try comments and questions like these:
- "Wow, it looked like you were concentrating really hard while you were drawing that picture!"
- "How did it feel to concentrate like that?"
- "How long do you think you were concentrating on your picture for? Sometimes when we concentrate it feels like a short time, a few minutes, but really it is a lot longer because we are enjoying what we are doing so much."
- "It's really useful to be able to concentrate hard whenever we want to. Like for instance when you are doing your homework, if you know how to concentrate really hard, you can usually do it really well, and still get it finished in a lot less time."
- "I noticed that your little sister interrupted you when you were concentrating on your picture. How did it feel when she interrupted your concentration? I saw that you spoke to her and gave her a crayon, but then you quickly went back to concentrating again. That's very good. It's really useful to be able to get back into your concentration when someone interrupts you."
- "You are really good at concentrating. Would you like to play a game to help you learn how you can concentrate even
Don't use all of the above approaches at once - do it over a period of a few days, using different examples of
You will probably find that your child shows a lot of interest in this kind of conversation. After all, much of the time a child's conversations with his parents are very trivial, telling him or asking him to do things, reminding him to tidy his room and so on. He loves it when you talk to him like an adult about things that really
How Long can You Concentrate?
Once your child understands the concept of concentration, you can engage him in games to help him value and improve his gift of concentration. Here is one to get you
Young children like competitive games, and they are very likely to be able to beat you at this
Get an object that you know your child will like. It could be a small toy, or better still a natural object - a feather for
The object of the game is to see who can concentrate on the object longest. Put the object on the table between the players - just two of you to start with, although you can have more players once your child gets familiar with the game. Say, "Let's see who can concentrate on the feather the longest." You don't need to explain the rules; your child will learn them as you go along.
If possible, have a "referee" who is not participating in the game to watch the players and call time out when one of them stops concentrating - the other player being the winner. If you are playing with more than two players, the referee should touch a player that loses concentration, and he or she steps out of the game leaving the remaining players to compete for winning
Loss of concentration can be recognized by:
- Looking away from the object for more than a second or two
- Closing your eyes for more than a second or two
- Talking · Giggling · Falling
Other games you can play include variations on memory games. For instance, you can have a tray with a dozen objects and a limited time to concentrate on them and memorize them - with an added twist in that anyone who loses their concentration before the time is up has to them close their eyes until time is
Once your child understands concentration and how it works, and enjoys playing concentration games, you will want to encourage him to apply his skill to things like schoolwork. After all, it is very easy for your child to concentrate on his favorite toys and hobbies, but he needs to learn that he can concentrate deliberately on less favored but still important
So now that he possesses, understands and appreciates his skill, remember to praise him when he uses it for homework or revision. Point out the benefits of concentrating on these things, and show him encouragement - and he will be able to grasp this skill and make it his own throughout his childhood and put it to good use as an adult.
About the Author:
Cassie Simons is the author of "How to Help Your Child Succeed",
a revolutionary approach to guilt-free parenting. Positive Parenting, Gifted Child Visit
for the secrets of raising successful children.