Beyond the Fidget Spinners – Five Hacks (How to Help Kids Focus!)
Do you sometimes feel at a complete loss when it comes to helping a hyperactive child with issues involving focus, ADHD, fidgeting, and sensory issues?
Figuring out what works and what doesn't can be frustrating and difficult. We get it!
However, a child doesn’t have to be fidgety or diagnosed ADHD to need help; even many neurotypical kids could use assistance in zeroing in on the tasks at hand. Are there some simple, yet effective options? Absolutely!
If you're wondering how to help kids focus, check out these five hacks from our BIPRI team. Some may sound newfangled and modern. But in fact, these focus hacks are pretty old-school. Whether you have a hyperactive child or not, these are great techniques to have in your parenting toolkit!
#1 Imaginative Play
Turn off the devices and let your kid get creative. Discover their interests, then feed them. If they want to create, bust out the Play-Doh, the crayons, the construction paper and safety scissors, or the building blocks.
If they like make-believe, dust off the action figures, dolls, and costumes. Let the stuffed animals come to life. Your child may initially balk at having electronics shut down, but once they begin to engage in imaginative play, you’ll probably be surprised how long they will stick with it.
Any time a child practices focusing on an activity, it increases capacity to focus. The process trains the brain to be willing to focus, reprogramming the need for constant distraction.
#2 Fresh Air
Piggy-backing on imaginative play is getting your child into fresh air. We all know children need, require – even crave – physical activity. Every parenting book and website states it. Kids act out for a lack of it. Whether it's an organized sport, playing in the backyard, or taking a family hike, fresh air and outdoor activities can increase your child’s ability to focus (they’ve gotten their wiggles out and their physical needs met), as well as their willingness to focus.
Playing with friends outside requires creativity, imagination, and cooperation. Playing organized sports breeds discipline and focus. And a family outing – either on a trail, on bikes, or around the neighborhood – often breeds amazing conversations and discoveries.
Not everything can be fun and games all the time. Sometimes, tasks must be accomplished. And unless you’re Mary Poppins, not every task can be turned magically into a game. If a non-fun task requires your child’s focus, sometimes a timer helps make it more manageable. Let’s face it, telling your child they have to clean their room (“...and stay up there until it’s finished!”) presents them with a task that may seem endless and dull. (...not to mention, all the distractions of everything in their room.)
Try using a timer. “Work on cleaning the room for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, you’re done!” This provides them with the comfort of knowing they must only focus on this particular task for a finite period. And if your child is competitive, it may inspire them to move more quickly, trying to see how much they can do within that set time.
Of course, you may need to add some structure to the task: “If you don’t work hard, we’ll have to start it over.” Or, “We can do 15 minutes each day until it’s all picked up. Then you’ll only have to do 5-minute timers to keep it straightened!”
Timers can be used for a myriad of tasks to help promote focus in short-term bursts.
Deep breathing, meditation, and other calming techniques encourage a child (as well as their grown-ups) to step back from anxiety, from distractions, from busyness, and focus. Whether your child is anxious, stressed, angry, or just overly-stimulated, deep breathing exercises can provide the calm needed to regain control over both body and mind. A calm mind and a healthy body are more prone to focus on accomplishing a task.
Talk about old-school! Reading does so much for the brain, including improving kids' focus. But an incredible phenomenon known as the “Matthew Effect” seems to apply in particular to reading.
The Matthew Effect refers to a passage in the Biblical book of Matthew, which notes that the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Applied to reading by psychologist Keith Stanovich, who did extensive research on the effects of reading, the Matthew Effect establishes that early readers tend to fare better throughout life than those who do not read in their youth. The less they read, the less they like to read. As a result, the further behind they fall on a variety of subjects: writing, history, background knowledge and vocabulary. The more children read, the stronger readers they become. The better they improve vocabulary. Just like everything… the more you practice, the better you are at facing a challenge.
In addition to learning, increasing vocabulary, and exploring the world outside of themselves, books offer children another perk. Fiction books stimulate the imagination. When a child immerses herself in an imaginary world, the desire to find out what happens next and to stay in that creative place naturally increases focus. Getting to the climactic battle scene or the tension that has built as two people’s eyes meet across a crowded room makes books page-turners, perpetuating a child’s desire to focus. Whether reading to your child or having your child independently read, books will benefit them in focus and in other aspects over the course of their lives.
How to Help Kids Focus With Neurohacking
If your child is easily distracted or seems to lack focus (and other physiological and mental differences have been ruled out by a medical professional), try these five focus hacks.
Next, look into Children's Optimal Brain and Body, a specially formulated nootropic multivitamin that provides the nutrients many kids' (and adults') diets are deficient in. The lack of these nutrients may cause issues with focus.
Discover why so many parents use Children's Optimal Brain and Body for:
p.s. Mom and Dad, we've got you covered, too. Check out BIPRI Optimal Brain and Performance, specifically designed for ages 12+.