How to Help Children Concentrate & Focus

When children can't concentrate or focus, their lives aren't as happy or productive as they could be. Schoolwork suffers and they may miss important instructions they need to hear to stay safe. As they struggle to focus, frustration grows, making it even more difficult to concentrate. It's a cycle that can be broken and it's not hard to do. A few simple steps can improve your child's focus and allow him to get through tasks with minimal stress and frustration.

Improve Concentration and Focus

Give simple instructions one step at a time. Telling a child with attention problems to clean his room may backfire, causing him to become overwhelmed and even less able to focus on the task. Instead, tell him to put all the dirty clothes in the hamper. When that's done, give him the next job, like picking up all the toy cars, and so on, until the overall task is completed.

Make a journal with a page for each task she does on a regular basis. Include one page for homework, one for chores, one for other responsibilities. Write down each step in sequence and have your child refer to it as she works.

Identify triggers that are distracting and remove them. Some kids need to work on their own away from the chatter of classmates. Others need to face away from windows or doors. Clear your child's desk of everything but the tools he needs to complete his work.

Allow your child to have move around and offer him "fidget tools." An item like silly putty or a squishy ball can actually allow him to focus on the task at hand. Standing or walking around while he's listening or working may help him concentrate.

Get to your child's level and look her in the eye when you talk to her. Keep instructions brief and simple, and ask her to repeat what you've said to be sure she heard and understood.

Provide opportunities for your child to burn off energy. Activities like dance and martial arts help kids learn to focus and use up excess energy, but simply running around in the yard before beginning a task that requires focus can help.