How to Increase a Child’s Attention Span


No matter how eager your child is to discover and explore his surroundings, he needs to concentrate on what he’s doing. A focused attention span is important, par­ticularly when your child nears school age and learns to travel around the neighborhood on his own.

Your child’s attention skills change throughout the pre­school years in the following ways:

  • From passive to active. A new baby watches something only when it captures his attention by moving across his field of vision. An older infant actively searches and explores his world. His attention becomes more dynamic and con­trolled, more in line with his desire to discover.
  • From unsystematic to systematic discovery. When you watch a young baby pick up and examine a rattle, you’ll notice that he does it in a very haphazard way. An older child explores
  • an object more systematically, so he discovers more about it.

  • From broad to selective attention. Young babies can’t filter out information very well—they try to attend to everything they see and hear. Older children are more able to focus their attention on one specific aspect of a situation—for example, they can see the “walk” signal at the cross-walk, even though there are hundreds of other objects around.

Some children have a very short attention span, long after others of the same age are able to concentrate for more than a few seconds. This can cause problems at school because such children may not listen carefully. A useful way to extend your child’s attention span is to present him with a short activity (such as coloring) and observe how long he persists until his attention wanders (say, two minutes). The next night, encour­age your child to color another picture and ask him to spend a little more time on it. Encourage him to persist with the activity for two minutes and fifteen seconds, and give him lots of praise when he achieves this. Then gradually increase the amount of time each night, until your child’s attention span is longer. Depending on your child’s reaction to gentle pressure, you may want to use a timer.

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About the Author: Alan Kennon lives a very happy life with two kids and a lovely wife. He likes to share his life time experiences with others about how they can improve their lifestyle and personality.

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