4 Ways to Help Your Child Stay Focused in a World of Distractions

The modern world is filled with distractions. From smartphones and tablets to gaming and VR consoles, smart TVs, and other gadgets, there are countless devices in our lives nowadays that constantly try to grab our attention. Some of us might still remember what it was like to live in a world without smartphones, Netflix, or social media. Our children, on the other hand, have not had that chance, and they are growing up surrounded by devices and information. 

While technology has significantly improved our lives and has made communication tremendously easier, especially during the pandemic, it has also caused problems. Children and adults alike are having difficulties staying away from devices and keeping focused on the tasks at hand. Think about it, what is the first thing you reach out for in the morning? We’ll venture a guess and say that we think it’s your smartphone. For children and teenagers in particular, this also applies. With so much online content churned out on a daily basis, so many social media platforms to join, so many new games and movies and streaming platforms, it can be almost impossible to keep focused. 

This is exactly why more and more children and adults around the world are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Unfortunately, many children can become so distracted and unfocused that their academic performance starts to suffer. How can parents help children stay focused, both at home and in school, in a world that constantly offers distractions? 

1. Avoid procrastination

Procrastination is the number one enemy of productivity, or so they say. The more you delay a task, the harder it will seem to get started, and the more anxious and guilty you will feel for delaying it. It’s a vicious circle that only serves to make us anxious and stressed out, and the same applies to our children. Of course your child would rather scroll Facebook or Instagram instead of getting started on that math homework. However, it’s important to help your child stay focused and simply get started on what they need to do. 

Encourage your child to do their homework earlier in the day, and decide together to get started at a certain time or hour in the day. Don’t let your child get distracted and give them ‘just five more minutes on Facebook.’ Those five minutes will turn into ten, then twenty, and so on, and then panic will set in because there’s not enough time left for school work. Work together with your child to set up a start time, and don’t put off the tasks. Facebook will still be there once homework is done!

2. Turn off notifications 

This goes without saying, but make sure to turn off notifications and put all devices on silent or turn them off while your child is working on homework or other activities. It can be extremely difficult for adults to stay away from checking social media or watching that new YouTube video from their favorite vlogger while they try to get work done. 

Imagine how difficult it must be for a child who doesn’t have any mechanisms in place to stay focused and productive. So, help them out by turning off notifications and even restricting access to certain websites or TV programs, if needed. Don’t let them work with the TV, Netflix, or YouTube running in the background, because that might be too tempting and distracting without them even realizing it. Instead, if they can’t work in complete silence, use music. There are so many apps and playlists out there specifically created to boost productivity and focus, so make sure to make the best of them if that’s what works for your child. 

3. Set goals and incentives

Each one of us is prone to procrastination and sometimes it’s very hard to find the motivation to complete a certain task. But then we think about that paycheck at the end of the month, that vacation that we want to take, or that new car or gadget that we want to buy, and that serves as our motivation. Try to find incentives that work in the same way for your child. For example, you can create a reward system and create certain short-term and long-term goals to motivate your child and boost productivity. If they finish their homework by a certain hour, they can watch Netflix for two hours; or, if they finish that complicated math task by the end of the day, they can go play and hangout with their friends. You can make it fun and turn it into an adventure; if they finish their homework on time every day for a week, you’ll take a fun family trip on the weekend. It can be a camping trip, a nice hike, or a trip to the zoo. Let them pick, as that will make them even more motivated. 

You can also set up long-term goals; if they finish the school year with a certain grade, or manage to improve their grades in a certain field, like math or literature, then you’ll get them a nice present to celebrate, like a new computer, new headphones, a new gaming console, a new bike, or new clothes – whatever works for you and your budget. 

4. Make technology work for, not against, you

We’ve already talked about how smartphones, tablets, consoles, and TVs can be extremely distracting, for both kids and adults. However, we’re not saying that technology is the enemy; quite the contrary, it can be your best ally, if you use it well. Yes, social media and endless notifications can have a negative impact on a child’s ability to focus and be productive; but certain digital tools and apps can actually help them fight distractions. 

We’ve already mentioned playlists that encourage productivity, sleep, focus, and learning. More than that, you can use an app to keep track of time and set aside a few hours for work, with breaks in between. You can also use meditation and mindfulness apps that help improve focus, like Calm and Headspace – these can also prove useful for young children. Digital note-taking apps and organization apps are also extremely useful for children, and can be very easy to use, intuitive, and fun, which is what children are drawn to in the first place. Try not to shun devices and technology completely, because that’s what children are familiar with and what they love to use. Instead, make them work for you, and not against you. 

If your child is having trouble staying focused on school and you suspect they might be suffering from ADHD, feel free to reach out to Da Vinci Collaborative and let’s find solutions together. Our counselors have years of experience working with children suffering from issues like ADHD, dyslexia, autism, and other affections, and they can offer support and information to help parents overcome these challenges. Contact us if you have any questions! 

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