Between dance classes and soccer practice, homework, and playdates, being a parent can be…challenging. And if your child has focus issues, there can be some added stress to an already hectic day-to-day routine.
On top of everything else, it can sometimes feel like you two are speaking different languages. The good news is there are still ways to help get you back on the same frequency.
Here are some tips to help improve your child’s focus without medication.
Establish structure (and stick to it)
Children with focus issues tend to do well with structure and routine. You can help them stay focused and organized by coming up with mini rituals for daily activities.
Try picking out clothes the night before and having school supplies gathered in a specific spot. This can help cut down on stress in the morning.
Leading by example is also important. Try your best to stay organized around the house to help your child learn that everything has a place.
Set clear expectations and rules
Kids with focus issues respond well to clearly defined (and consistent) systems of rewards and consequences. A way to help everyone stay accountable is to make a list of rules, rewards, and consequences. Then hang it somewhere for the whole family to see.
Praise can oftentimes go overlooked, too. Your child is probably used to being told to change their behavior (from teachers, coaches, as well as at home). It’s important to acknowledge when they’re doing something right.
Get them moving
Physical activities can be especially effective for kids with focus issues. Organized activities like sports, dance, and yoga encourage kids to focus their movements. This can help improve their ability to focus. Better concentration can decrease anxiety and depression, too.
Sports are also a great way to burn off some excess energy, which can help your child’s sleep improve. Keep in mind that some sports are better for this than others. If the activity has a lot of idle time (like waiting to take turns), it might be less effective than an activity with constant motion.
Related: Are Video Games Actually Bad for You?
Help your child eat right
Regular, nutritious meals are beneficial for everyone, but kids with focus issues tend to struggle when it comes to mealtime. Without structure, they’ll often be too distracted by other things to remember to eat. Then when they finally do eat, they’re more likely to binge on whatever is around.
While diet doesn’t cause focus conditions, nutrition can affect mood and mental state in general. So it’s important to set specific times to eat, in addition to making sure those meals and snacks are nutritious.
Take care of yourself
Getting stressed out from time to time is just part of the territory when it comes to parenting. But when you’re calm and focused, you’re more likely to cut through the distractions your child is dealing with.
It’s important that you figure out ways to manage your stress. Find something you love and make it a priority in your routine. Whether that be an evening bubble bath or morning workout, regularly treat yourself to something just for you.
Smith, Melinda M.A., Segal, Jeanne Ph.D. (2017, April). ADHD Parenting Tips. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/when-your-child-has-attention-deficit-disorder-adhd.htm