Don’t you just love it when you have a burning question in your mind and by some crazy aligning of the stars, you get your answer?
As my toddler grows into an increasingly more fidgety kid, I have been wondering just how long we can truly focus on one thing – And then THIS headline passed through my RSS feed: Is Your Attention Span Shorter Than a Goldfish’s?
Yep – it is true. A recent study by Microsoft found that as of 2013, our average attention span has decreased to 8 seconds while a goldfish can pay attention for 9 seconds.
In 2000, we could pay attention for a whopping 12 seconds. This drop in attention span is attributed to an increase in Smartphone use and the abundance of content we have access to via social media.
While we used to travel to the library to find answers to our questions, it can now literally take us seconds. This means that our NEED to pay attention for long periods of time has decreased.
If you are like me, you are thinking “Okay, but this does nothing for me when I just want my kids to focus long enough to hear what I am saying!”
Getting our kids to focus is not just about our desire for them to hear us, but focus is an important skill in being able to do just about anything well.
Here are a few things we can do to help our kids focus better:
1. Eliminate Distractions
It is amazing how much our kids can suddenly “hear” us when they don’t have a room full of bright colors and loud noises vying for their attention!
2. Create a Family Quiet Time
It is good practice for ALL of us to BE STILL during our days. Creating this time will help our kids AND us recharge and develop our attentional skills.
Let’s spend less time with that which is contributing to our ability to focus being less than that of a Goldfish!
4. Practice Attending to One Activity
I ask athletes to practice paying attention by learning to ignore their phones while getting homework done. Don’t completely remove the distraction, but practice ignoring distractions that are irrelevant to the task at hand. It is a way of training our brains to pay attention to the right stuff.
5. Step Out into Nature
Research shows that time exploring the natural world helps increase our ability to focus.
6. Teach Our Children to BREATHE
Anxiety and attention are intricately linked. Teaching our kids to breathe as a coping mechanism for anxiety may also help them focus better.
Finally, let’s remember that kids develop their ability to focus over time. Toddlers have a very short attention span and that is NORMAL. As parents, let’s give them reasonable space to be just where they should be developmentally while also creating an environment to help them develop the important skill of FOCUS more effectively as they grow older.
In what ways have you worked with your children to increase their ability to pay attention?