Activities to Increase Your Child’s Attention Span at Home

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

Tips for Improving Attention Span

Here's the good news: improving attention span is possible. Here are a few tips and activities that will benefit your child:  

Limit screen time. Many studies show that too much screen time can decrease both attention span and cognitive function. Establish rules around screen time. Try designating no-screen periods of the day, such as during meals and before bed time. Encourage your child to strive for balance in their life. Smartphones and computers offer many benefits when used in moderation, but too much screen time can create a multitude of problems.  

Reduce distractions and time wasters. Smartphones are one type of distraction, but a messy room or cluttered desk can contribute to a lack of attention span too. Make sure your child has good habits and routines for doing school work and staying organized. Have your child put their phone away when they sit down to do homework, and keep homework breaks short and (ideally) screen free. Digital distractions can result in poor school performance and hamper your child’s efficiency. Set rules about social media use, TV and gaming if needed.  

Engage fully with one thing at a time. In today’s digitally dominated times, people often do several things at once, or they switch from screen to screen, from task to task. Educators and other experts agree, however, that multitasking is actually counterproductive. It can hurt efficiency and performance and contribute to a child’s attention span challenges. Teach your child to do one task at a time, which helps with improving attention span and getting more done.  

Try meditation. Meditation is known to benefit children and adults in a variety of ways. It can help your child improve their attention span, learn how to be more present during school and homework time, reduce their stress level and calm a busy mind. Even a few minutes a day can make a positive impact. Search for meditation videos online that you and your child can try together.  

Chew gum and drink water. Believe it or not, chewing gum can enhance attention, alertness and performance if you and your child’s teacher agree. Also, staying hydrated is important for lots of reasons, but it’s been proven that being dehydrated can impair performance in tasks that require attention and memory skills. While these activities aren’t long-term fixes for a lack of attention span, they are easy to try to see if they help your child!  

Incorporate physical activity into the daily schedule. You’ve heard it before—exercise isn’t just good for your body; it’s good for your brain too. Harvard shares that exercise helps memory and thinking, and it reduces stress and anxiety that can contribute to cognitive impairment. So, a regular exercise habit will strengthen your child’s brain, and active breaks (e.g., jumping jacks or a walk around the house) during study time are beneficial for your child’s attention span. There’s a reason teachers encourage children to stand up and move throughout the day!  

Get plenty of sleep. Here’s one of the simplest things your child can do to increase their attention span: go to bed! Sleep deprivation is a common problem among people of all ages, and unsurprisingly, it can have a very negative impact on your child’s attention span. Make sure your child is embracing good nighttime habits (like avoiding screens right before bedtime). If they are consistently struggling to fall or stay asleep, explore remedies with your pediatrician.  

If Your Child’s Attention Span Needs Improvement, Watch for Signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Many children periodically struggle with focus. However, if your efforts to help your child improve their attention span have been unsuccessful, it might be worth exploring with school professionals whether ADHD is a possibility so you can help your child more effectively. Common inattention signs of ADHD include:  

  • Chronic disorganization 
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor time management
  • Difficulty maintaining focus on many/most tasks and activities
  • Lack of follow through (with school work, chores, etc.) 
  • Loses things easily
  • Avoids activities that require sustained mental effort 

A short attention span can be concerning, especially if it’s not the only red flag you’re noticing as your child goes through school. If your child’s school performance is suffering, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN. We’ll get to the root of the problem and create a customized program of instruction to help your child become a better student.  


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