If your child has a lot of fidgety habits that your might be concerned about, you need to read this article where I break down why children fidget, how they can improve their focus and minimize their fidgeting habits.
Here is the extremely watered down answer – let them play, reduce screen time and ensure they have proper nutrition in their daily lives. Confused? Keep reading!
Children’s poor focus abilities and small attention spans aren’t always a long-term issue; you may help them increase their concentration over time.
Please note that a lot of children fidget, have trouble following instructions, have poor organization skills and lack general focus when they are quite small. All of these things naturally improve over time. By the time children are 10 years old, they should be able to focus a lot more and have less annoying fidgeting behaviours.
To begin with, it is critical to note that focus and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Poor focus abilities do not always imply a lack of intelligence; in fact, the opposite is often the case. You can have a very smart kiddo who doesn’t ever stop moving (I have one of those!) Second, concentration may increase with practise and naturally improves with age, so you don’t have anything to worry about right now if your kids are still small.
Play is possibly the most effective strategy to boost your children’s attention span. If it sounds counterintuitive, stick with me as I tell you everything you need to know about concentration and how you can assist your child improve their concentration and stop annoying fidget behaviours through play.
How To Help Stop Fidgeting All The Time Through Play
Open-ended play with open-ended toys, in particular, can help your child’s memory and concentration. Children learn about their world and absorb new information into their brains through play.
You can truly utilize open-ended play to teach toddlers how to concentrate. They can concentrate on their play when they are playing with open-ended toys. The more they practise flexing that concentration, the simpler it will become in other parts of their lives.
Use Open Ended Toys
Toys that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways are known as open-ended toys. There are no established guidelines for how to interact with the toys.
Electronic toys, for example, are frequently toy-led play, in which the child must follow the electronic toy’s instructions; this is not an open-ended toy. A play kitchen set, on the other hand, where kids can play chef, pretend doctor, or play house, is an open-ended toy. There are no right or incorrect ways to play with it, and every variation is OK.
There is no right or wrong method to play open-ended games. Children are free to use their imaginations whatever they like. If a youngster is playing with automobiles and determines that all of the vehicles can fly, they are free to do so without fear of being told that “cars don’t fly.”
It allows them to play in any way they like.
Open-ended play is a terrific method to assist your youngster develop their concentration. Children not only get to experience what it’s like to be concentrated, but they also begin to develop abilities that promote focus, such as self-initiation, resilience, independence, and problem-solving.
Your youngsters can learn to focus by engaging in open-ended play.
Playing memory games that boost your child’s working memory is another approach to assist them improve their concentration while you’re playing together. A matching game is the obvious choice. However, you may organically incorporate it into play by having your child play restaurant server, where he or she is the server and must remember your order. Begin with one or two objects and gradually increase until you have four or five. These focus exercises might turn into enjoyable pastimes that will benefit you in the long run.
In another case, my children recently performed the role of a pretend pet veterinarian, and I was shocked at how much working memory was required in their game. The students had to remember the names of their pet patients, the reason for their visit, and all of the made-up diagnoses, tests, and treatments.
For open ended play I personally loved play kitchens like this one for my kids when they were toddlers (my 5 year old still loves this!) and lots of blocks like these wooden ones and even magnet tiles (these are the ones we use).
Open ended play isn’t just for small kids either, older children can definitely (and should definitely) enjoy open ended play on a regular basis. Minimizing screen time can help them get bored enough so they engage in open ended play.
Allow Time For Meaningful Play
We are frequently rushed in today’s world. Every day is jam-packed with activities, events, things to do, and places to be, and playtime is the first thing to go.
Simply set out time for your youngster to engage in meaningful play. Giving your child 40 minutes of uninterrupted play per day will help you see a significant improvement in his or her ability to concentrate.
I always prioritize free play over screen time, and encourage my own children to come up with a craft, read a book or create something with their open ended toys. They never really take my suggestions into consideration, but they do always find something to do that doesn’t involve screens or even my attention (which is great because I also have a baby who needs me all the time).
Provide Appropriate Toys For Play
Having the time to play is only half the battle; your child also needs open-ended toys that allow them to steer their play with their imaginations.
The following are some examples of open-ended toys:
- Blocks and other construction toys (LEGO, MagnaTiles, Blocks)
- Dolls and furnishings for dolls
- Toys for a Small World (like small animals, people, landscape pieces, and buildings)
- Triangle Wobble Boards
- Play Food, Dress Up Kitchen, with miniature pots, pans, and dishes
Allowing your child to engage in open-ended play and the freedom to explore and do whatever they want can help them focus on other aspects of their lives.
Open-ended toys help your child develop abilities like follow-through, resiliency, and problem-solving, all of which boost their capacity to focus. Children who are resilient and used to following through can focus on tasks that do not interest them.
See also: How to Raise Creative Kids
Using Fidget Toys
Let me just say that you do not NEED to purchase fidget toys for your fidgeting children. You can however utilize them if you like.
One of my kids went through a phase where he loved to chew on his t shirts so I bought him these teethers which he used for a month, and then stopped biting his t shirts altogether and lost interest in the teething necklace.
The problem with fidget toys in my opinion as a mother, is that they have to be with the child all the time in order to really work. These popular pop it toys and fidget spinners often times get dropped on the floor and forgotten the day after they were awesome and cool.
It’s up to you if you want to purchase these for your kids. I do think they are helpful to some children but I feel like I have not experienced them to be helpful for my own kids and therefore cannot really recommend them for others!
Signs That A Child Has Poor Concentration
Children with a short attention span might show it in a variety of ways. Some of the methods may seem commonplace, while others may not even occur to you.
A child who looks to be focused may actually be having difficulty concentrating.
Let’s have a look at some of the indications of poor concentration in kids.
This may have been the first thought that sprang to mind when I mentioned low concentration. Many children who have trouble concentrating squirm when they should be sitting still.
Fidgeting, on the other hand, can assist some youngsters (particularly those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD) focus. For these kids, making them sit motionless would focus all of their attention on how much their bodies want to move.
A simple comprehension question will help you determine if your child’s fidgeting is interfering with their ability to concentrate.
Difficulty Following Instructions
Working memory is a component of concentration. A waitress uses working memory to remember your order and pass it on to the cook.
It’s the ability to store a few items in your mind for a short period of time before recalling them quickly.
If your youngster can’t manage to follow two or three instructions, it’s possible that they’re having trouble with working memory, which affects their concentration.
Frequently, these children follow the first or last step to a tee. Everything in the centre has vanished.
Poor Organization Skills
Children that have trouble concentrating will appear to be unable to organise themselves. In truth, the majority of this is due to working memory difficulties, with the youngster forgetting how to organise.
Of course, most youngsters need to be taught how to organise, so you may need to break it down for them into simple steps before dismissing this as a symptom of poor concentration.
They may also misplace items. We all lose things now and then, but a youngster with poor focus may lose things frequently and will be unable to retrace their actions.
For most children, this falls under working memory, but it also has to do with attention.
What signs should you look for to see if your youngster is easily distracted? Your child bouncing from one activity to the next in short intervals of time is one of the most visible indications. When they play, their play appears scattered, and they frequently play with all of the things at the same time or in rapid succession.
Daydreaming, on the other hand, might easily distract some children. They may appear to be sitting quietly and focusing, yet their brains are in a whole different place.
Allowing Kids To Play Helps Build Concentration and Focus
You should do the following to help your child increase their focus and concentration:
- Recognize the symptoms of low concentration.
- Remove any environmental triggers, such as a bad routine, lack of sleep, or a poor nutrition.
- Allow time for undisturbed, open-ended play with open-ended toys.
- Possibilities for cooperative play with friends should be provided.