There must be some reason why some children are better at concentration than others, wouldn’t you agree?
Well . . . in reality there are lots of reasons, but by giving this question just a little thought you can go a long way toward helping your child improve.
Even if she is quite young, you can explain what concentration is. Show her examples of concentration in action. You see it all the time in sporting activities, musical performances, and even when people are switching off to relax and ‘chill’.
Point out what the golfer is doing when he’s taking that 20-yard putt. He’s shutting out distractions by focusing his attention on the ball and the distance to the hole. He’s planning what he has to do in order to hit the ball at the correct angle and with just the right force to roll it over the green and into the hole. That’s concentration!
Or the musician who is so wrapped up in her performance that she looks as if she’s in a trance. The outside world doesn’t exist. She ‘hears’ the music and focuses everything on what has to be done to produce the desired sound. That’s concentration… It’s all about getting the job done – even if the job is relaxation!
Now get your child to consider the barriers or blocks to concentration.
The child’s age plays an important part. Younger children are more likely to lack concentration, simply because they haven’t developed the necessary skills. You can help them by always ensuring the task in hand is an appropriate challenge for their age and skill level. Too much and frustration sets in quickly; too little and they become bored.
The child’s physical state can be another barrier. This can include her general health as well as her state of comfort. Tiredness and discomfort can block concentration. So can too much comfort. Help her strike a balance.
The same is true of her emotional state. Fear, worry and anxiety can all block progress – but they can be great motivators too!
Then there are environmental factors. The room could be too hot, too cold, too stuffy, too bleak, too comfortable…
So – impress on your child that the ability to concentrate can change from day to day. It can be high one day and low the next, so she doesn’t always need to feel bad about it and blame herself if it’s not working out.
But she needs to be careful that she doesn’t ruin concentration – her own and her friends’ – by interruptions. Examples would be making noises, giggling, moving about and chatting. Get her to consider how she feels when someone interrupts an activity she’s caught up in. That way she can learn to appreciate how others feel when she interrupts.
When improvement is noted it’s always a good idea to reward it, and often a word of praise is the best reward.
Now for the big one where concentration is concerned: motivation.
Lack of interest can kill concentration stone dead, so help her see ‘What’s in it for me?’
Observe your child when she’s concentrating on her own tasks, whether they are singing into her hairbrush ‘mike’ or getting herself primped and preened for Jenny’s birthday party. Point out – later, of course, you don’t want to break her concentration! – that we all concentrate better when we have an interest in the task in hand. We are motivated to do the task by the effect it has on us, which could be the experience of enjoyment or some personal or material gain, either now or later.
Impress on her that motivation is crucial. When we see the point in a task – and the benefit that’s in it for us – we are motivated to do it more quickly and more efficiently. This applies even if the task is school work and if it’s not entirely suited to our interests. Concentrating on it helps us get through it and helps us to learn, so that we can cope with what comes next. Stress the idea of personal benefit!
There’s lots more you can do to motivate your child to concentrate, but a good appreciation of what concentration is and how we can benefit from it will get you started. Make that start today!
Author: Frank McGinty is the author of the free 18-page report, ‘How To Combat The Concentration Crisis In Our Schools’. To give your kids a head start, pick up your free copy at http://concentration.fssgold.com