Childhood is such a wonderful time of growth and exploration. During this time, children are learning a great deal about themselves and the world around them. They are constantly taking in information and finding new ways to test the boundaries of their little world. Thinking about how children are evolving into the adults they will someday be is an amazing concept…. that is until you are caught up in chasing them through their wild explorations, feeling as though you can never keep up with their wandering attention and the impulsivity that comes with learning. As a caregiver of any sort, this can be frustrating. The following are some tips of how to reign in their attention and impulsivity while also allowing them to learn and, best of all, having a little fun along the way!
There are many activities that can be done at home, at school, and in the community to work on building a greater attention span. “Simon Says” is a great way to get children to practice listening closely and following detailed instructions. As they master this game, try to give more advanced and detailed tasks that Simon tells them to do. Anyone up for a game of “Red Light, Green Light”? How about “Mother May I?”? Again, great activities that practice listening skills and following instructions, all the while having a fun time with your children.
As adults, we have learned techniques of calming ourselves that we often refer to as coping skills. This concept may be more challenging for a child to grasp. Try introducing these skills through play, which is a child’s natural way to communicate. For example, most children love to blow bubbles. What they don’t realize is that while blowing bubbles, they are also practicing deep breathing, which is a very common calming and refocusing technique. Blowing up balloons or pretending to blow up balloons is another fun way to practice deep breathing.
Childhood is also a time of learning to be more independent and wanting to take control. When a child doesn’t want to follow a routine, try to give them choices that you have pre-determined. For example, if bedtime routine consists of reading up to four short books, allow the child to choose if you read two books, three books, or four books. You are still following the set bedtime routine of reading and still staying within the limitation of a number of books, but the child is getting to be a part of the decision making process. This will empower him/her as well hopefully lesson the likelihood of resistance and tantrums.
While the busy days of parenting children can be exhausting, don’t forget to enjoy the wonder of their ever-changing minds as they seek to learn the world around them. Enjoy the upcoming days of summer with your children!