Our minds all wander from time to time, but for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it can be especially challenging to maintain focus on a task. They are easily distracted, and their mind goes in a million different directions. This lack of attention can lead to making careless mistakes, not finishing tasks, and getting off track. Not only can it be frustrating for others, it can be exasperating for the child as well. They want to do well and follow directions, but it’s hard.
There are several ways you can help them to improve focus on what they’re doing:
Remove clutter when working on a project. Only put the supplies they need right now on their desk or the table so that there are fewer distractions.
Let them move as they work. This may mean shifting from sitting to standing, walking as you quiz them on spelling words, or sitting on a balance ball to read. Motion can actually help them to stay more attentive.
Minimize distractions with a white noise machine or soft music playing in the background. This can filter out other sounds that may divert their attention and breaks up the silence. While it may seem counterintuitive, children with ADHD can often focus better when their brain is multitasking and using different senses.
Break down tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. Build their attention by letting them know that once they complete X, they’ll get a short break. Set achievable goals. If they seem to be getting frustrated by a task, let them step away and clear their head, then come back and keep working.
Find a non-distracting fidget such as squeezing a stress ball, running their fingers over a smooth rock, doodling while listening, or chewing gum. While fidget spinners have become a recent craze, they may be more distracting than helpful for some kids because they’re a visual stimulus. Fidget cubes may be more beneficial in some cases. Find what works for your child and helps them to keep their mind focused.
Keep a visual schedule to remind them of what comes next. Write down each step so that they can check it off when they’re done and know what they should be working on afterward.
Explore accommodations at school that can support your child in being more successful. That may mean giving them breaks during tests, letting them move about, preferential seating, or other approved strategies. Work with your child’s school, teachers, therapist, and other professionals to determine the best plan for their needs.
If you’re concerned that your child may be struggling with ADHD, have them evaluated at PediaPlex. We will work with you to determine if they have ADHD or other challenges, and what strategies may be effective in helping them to be more successful at home and in school.
Does your child have difficulty paying attention and finishing tasks? Ask about ADHD testing at PediaPlex.