The Factors Affecting Attention Span in Children

By Tess Thompson

You cannot be sure of your child’s attention span until he is about three to four years of age. A child’s attention span depends directly upon his age and increases over time. While a two year old is likely to be able to concentrate for about three to five minutes, a preschooler should be able to focus on what he is doing for about fifteen minutes. A child’s attention span will increase naturally with age, but there are certain exceptions to the rule.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is considered to be the most common cause of a low attention span. It is a genetic disorder that is difficult to confirm, since definite diagnosis is not always possible. However, it is not fair to label a child with this developmental condition in a hurry without due consideration to numerous environmental factors that may be affecting your child’s attention span.

Children often find it difficult to concentrate, as they are prone to getting distracted easily. They want something new to do all the time. This is more pronounced when they are involved in uninteresting activities. Thinking of new, fun activities may not come easily to every parent, but a little effort can ensure that you have a list of activities ready for your child if you want to.

Fatigue is another factor that may affect your child’s attention span. Children have lot of energy and are prone to be active all through the day, and have no idea of how much they should sleep in a day. It is for you to decide and schedule their sleep time based on an understanding of the amount of time that a child needs to sleep based on his age.

An unorganized familial environment also affects child concentration problems. Setting a schedule for waking up, meals, snacks, fun activities, chores and bedtime provides an environment that allows children to think and remain focused.

In recent times, watching television has become a primary factor that has negatively affected child concentration. Part of the organizational problems in households results from not having set limits for television watching. Television, as a medium, is constantly changing. Producers design newer programs to attract children of all ages. Since manufacturing companies use children as target audience to influence adult purchases, broadcasters play up to this trend and develop programming strategies to attract higher kid viewership. The fact that most households have a television set in every room makes matters worse. The remote control allows children to switch programs without lifting a finger. The remote control also allows children to search for their favorite program across channels. The result is that they are even unable to concentrate upon a single show on television beyond a few minutes.

Watching television per se is not the culprit for a low attention span in kids. It is the amount of television allowed and the quality of programs that are watched. The television is a very good medium for education, provided children watch thought-provoking programs. It may be a good idea to allow your child to view some programs of his choice followed by other educational or informational programs that you may want him to see.

Sometimes medications and herbal supplements may help in improving concentration of your child, but these too will produce desired results only if coupled with taking initiatives in the home.


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