Children with ADHD find it difficult to maintain sustained attention. The good news is that it is possible to improve your child’s sustained attention. Before diving deep, let’s understand what is sustained attention and how is it different from other types of attention.
Sustained attention means maintaining focus and attention despite distractions. Moreover, the ability to get back to the same activity when interrupted is what sustained attention demands. It also includes the process of attaining information from multiple sources and choosing the most important to follow.
Sustained attention is developmental, as a toddler may not attend the activity for a longer period, unlike older children who need to focus and complete more complex tasks. Here are the ways to improve sustained attention in your ADHD child.
How to increase sustained attention?
Your child may stop doing the activity if he thinks it’s difficult. To help him tackle the difficulty, you will have to cut down the project into smaller steps. This will allow him to work better with sustained attention. For instance, when you have to complete 10 questions, tell him, “First answer the top two questions only, we will get back to the rest of them later.” This will help him work on the two questions without losing focus.
Reward after completion
Parents usually limit their child’s screen time during school days. However, watching their favorite show can be an incentive to hold their attention if they know that they can finish the assignment and watch the show for half an hour. You can say, “As soon as you finish this project, you can watch your favorite show for half an hour.” This will energize them to complete their assignment without interruptions.
Praise for efforts
Simple phrases like ‘Good job’ can do wonders. Praise makes your child feel their contribution is valuable, which motivates them to outperform. So instead of saying “You should have completed 2 chapters till now,” say something like, ‘You tried hard to finish one chapter. That’s wonderful.”
Put a timer for preferred intervals. As the bell buzzes, have your child show you their work. This will not only give them a chance to move but allows them to mentally relax. Make sure to have periodic breaks that include some physical activity for them to work more efficiently.
Children with ADHD usually get distracted by different thoughts. While solving a math problem, they can talk about an incident that they watched on TV 3 days ago. Encourage them by saying, “Tell me more. I am interested to know how you arrived at this thought. It is interesting.” This will enable them to speak and allow you to join the dots.
The evidence of rewarding an ADHD child after completing their assignment and division of activity has shown promising effects. As a parent, these are some of the steps you can take to help improve your child’s concentration. All it takes is a conscious change in how you respond to your child to bring a noteworthy change to their sustained attention.