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Education|26 September 2022

How to improve focus and concentration skills in kids?

Written by Jitin Chawla
Eminent career counsellor and a founder of Centre for Career Development with more than 21 years of experience in mentoring students accross the world.

Remez Sasson in his book ‘Will Power & Self Discipline’ describes concentration as the ability to control attention and to focus the mind on one subject, object, or thought and at the same time exclude from the mind every other unrelated thought, ideas, feelings, and sensations. 

The art of concentration is an elusive quality that is hard to conjure even for adults and quite naturally it’s a notch harder for the kids due to their high enthusiasm and curiosity levels. One moment they would be engrossed solving a math problem the other moment they would be peeking out of the window lost in their own dream world.

Kids require to be focused from dawn till dusk so as not to be late for school or hobby classes, to be efficient during school tests and sports they play. As parents do you think concentration is a problem for your kids?

  • Do your kids find sitting in one place difficult and get distracted easily?
  • Do they lose things often and cannot stay organized?
  • Do your kids have trouble finishing what they started?
  • Do you feel they aren’t listening to you while you’re trying to have a conversation with them?


If you answer “yes” to at least a couple of these questions, it means your kid may be easily distracted. Rectifying concentration issues will help your kids-

  • in school
  • during exams
  • boost their performance in sports
  • enhance creativity levels
  • build a better career
  • develop overall personality 

Some kids innately possess the ability to focus longer and sharper while most find it difficult to concentrate. Although attention varies from one kid to another, psychologists are of the opinion that the difficulty in concentrating may also hinge on certain underlying factors such as

  • poor nutrition
  • lack of exercise
  • lack of sound sleep
  • familial or personal(school or peer related) stress
  • excessive use of smartphones and laptops
  • coping with a personal loss

Addressing these issues can have a major influence on a kid’s concentration and will go a long way. Scientists and psychologists unanimously concur that the ability to stay focused is a crucial indicator of a person’s future success.

Additionally, parents can get their kids to learn various methodologies and engage in practices that would not only answer the eternal question- how to improve concentration in kids but also help refine their attention and focus on the task beforehand. 

Here are some of the best ways to improve concentration in kids quickly and easily.

1. Prepare a distraction-free environment

Kids respond well in a soothing environment. Understanding the kind of environment your kid prefers is the first step towards improving their concentration levels.

DO’S

  • Have a dedicated study room for your kids where they can do their school work without any obstruction.
  • Install soft music, smooth lighting, indoor plants or aquariums to help your kids be calm, composed and focused.
  • Gadgets including televisions, tablets, smartphones, laptops etc. ought to be switched off or kept in a different room to avoid distractions.
  • Have meaningful conversations with your kids and try to resolve issues (if any) troubling them. This will keep your kid’s mind free of negative thoughts and help improve focus.

DON’TS

  • Parents should not put undue pressure on the kids to perform well in academics.
  • They should avoid frequent arguments and quarrels among them as it makes the kid restless, inattentive and unfocused. 

2. Balance diet and water

Eating a healthy and balanced diet helps a kid to maintain concentration. Food rich in proteins such as almonds has the ability to raise awareness and answers how to improve concentration in kids while junk food makes a kid sluggish.
Adequate amount of water consumption is equally important for kids as it aids the brain to function optimally.

3. Ensure enough rest, exercise and sound sleep

  • Parents should ensure kids’ get enough sleep (8 hours per night) as high-quality sleep fosters attention and concentration. Power naps of twenty minutes after school or in the afternoon assist the kids to recharge and increase concentration.
  • Sending kids outside to play for half an hour daily could be beneficial to kids’s concentration levels.
  • Rest and relaxation is another important cog in the wheel of concentration and parents should ensure to balance kid’s school work and learning with leisure time.

4. Practice deep breathing technique

Deep breathing technique is an important skill for kids to possess in their armory so that whenever they are confronted with a challenging task they can employ it to calm themselves, clear their mind and concentrate on the task.

5. Assign responsibilities with short time goals

Hand out responsibilities like setting the dinner table, making a sandwich, arranging the bookshelf, cleaning the room, sorting the shoe rack etc. and set a reasonable time limit for the completion of a goal so that kids do not feel pressured and lose focus.

6. Break big tasks down into smaller pieces and set up a reward system

Big task requires a longer span of concentration so it’s always a good idea to divide it into smaller tasks for kids as it would be less intimidating for them. For example- instead of asking them to clean the entire room, break it down and ask them to clean the book self today, the toy rack tomorrow and so on. Reward them when they accomplish the task. The rewards don’t necessarily have to be chocolates or toys. They can be in the form of praise or 15 minutes of extra play that would motivate them to continue further.

7. Play games to build attention

Kids learning is most effective while playing, it is always a good idea to make their activities learning oriented that improve their attention and concentration. Parents can indulge in the following games with their kids-

  • The silence game
    The game involves challenging your kid to sit in a chair without moving or fidgeting to see how long he can do it. It helps to strengthen mind-body connections and improves focus.
  • Find the difference
    This activity helps in making your kid concentrate for long and improve focus as your kid looks into the details of the image or puzzle.
  • Tongue twisters
    Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers! Your kid needs a lot of focusing to get this right. Search for tongue twisters of varying levels of difficulty to give your kid a good concentration workout.

Strengthening a kid’s concentration is not something parents can achieve overnight. The first step to improve a kid’s concentration is to recognize the reasons behind it and how it is affecting kids’ life. Kids learning how to concentrate is essential for their success in schools, sports, co-scholastic activities, later in career and in life overall. Both kids and their guardians will notice that kids are able to accomplish more of what they value and feel better doing it as it is not just about accomplishing tasks but also about carving time for joy and relaxation so that kids can achieve a meaningful and satisfying life.

As the old proverb goes

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat”

Reiterating that the most important thing is to focus your attention on present activity and the rest will eventually sink in.

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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