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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Can Be Done for A Child’s Short Attention Span?

Whether a child has been diagnosed with ADD (attention deficit disorder) or just has a hard time with inattention and distractibility, life at school and at home can be pretty challenging. Adults, who respect and allow for this child’s special needs, can help the child’s life run more smoothly and with less stress.

If you find your child’s inattentive behavior to be annoying or detrimental to the child, the following suggestions can be helpful.

• Look your child in the eye, when giving instructions. Give only one or two directions at a time. Ask your child to review aloud what you said to check for misunderstanding and to assist your
child’s memory.

• Establish a daily routine with meals, family activities and bedtime scheduled at the same time
every day. Routines are very important for those with a short attention span.

• Give your distractible child a specific time and place to do homework away from noise (TV,
people talking) and sights (toys, active people). Equip the space with paper & pencils. If there is no homework, have your child do leisure reading.

• Keep study time for any subject short – 10 to 15 minutes. Move to another subject and then go back to the first. Give breaks to move around, do jumping jacks, and get a drink. Boredom comes quickly with these kids.

• Allow movement during study time to stimulate the attention area of the brain.

• Use a timer for homework, bedtime, stopping play and getting ready activities. A timer helps
children stick to their task and to speed up their efforts.

• Have family meetings to allow everyone to set discuss and set rules for chores and recurring
problems. Set up consequences that fit the situation if the rules are not followed, or make a list of
consequences from which the child can choose at the time of the error. Children feel motivated to follow rules they help set.

• Put a poster in the bedroom with the daily routine. 1) Eat breakfast 2) Shower 3) Brush teeth 4) Get dressed. Use pictures for nonreader. Fostering independence goes a long way to boost self confidence.

• Point out positive behavior frequently

• Avoid blame and ridicule for mistakes or broken rules. They crush a child’s spirit. Ignore little
mistakes. Have a two-way discussion about bigger issues.

By Diane Daniels

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