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Stop Worrying and Help Your Child Concentrate - In Three Easy Steps

Jul 12, 2008
Be honest - are you one of those parents who worry about their child's apparent inability to concentrate? Are you constantly asking, does he or she have ADHD? Are they doomed to failure and a life of disrupting others? This may come as a surprise, but many schools in the western world are seeing a fall in the concentration levels of their students, especially those in the younger age-groups. So you're not alone.

Here are three steps you can take to tackle the problem.

Step 1: Investigate whether there is a biological basis for the child's behaviour? Too many parents, I'm afraid, are very quick to assume there is. If they feel guilty about their poor parenting or have low self-esteem, they often start to blame themselves - but if their child is ill . . . well, that's different!

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is usually the first thing parents suspect if little Johnny or Susie is running the teachers ragged. So let's be clear what it is.

ADHD has a biological basis and is characterized by impulsive or hyperactive behavior (such as fidgeting, squirming, excessive moving about, excessive talking), and inattentive behavior (such as difficulty keeping sustained attention, listening problems, difficulty following instructions, forgetfulness and lack of organization).

If the disorder is diagnosed it can be treated by a combination of medication and counseling. However, many parents are reluctant to see their children 'medicated' at such a tender age and worry that the treatment may be 'drugging' them in order to suppress their energy.

If you genuinely think that your child has the disorder, then seek professional advice. But consider this: medical researchers tell us that ADHD affects only a tiny minority, around 3%-5% of school-age children. So the chances are that your inattentive child does not suffer from it. What then?

Step 2: Observe their behavior in a variety of activities and situations. Can they concentrate elsewhere, or is the problem at school only? Can they settle to read books or comics at home? Can they sustain a session of computer games or outdoor sports? What's their concentration like when they're watching TV or DVDs?

If they can settle into activities they like and enjoy, then ADHD is probably not the problem. If the lack of concentration appears to be in school only or is related to school work (e.g. homework assignments), then you can be sure there are other factors involved.

Step 3: Investigate probable causes. Discuss the level of work with your child's teacher. It could be too easy or too demanding for their individual learning styles. It may be presented in a way that doesn't interest or motivate the child. Perhaps it's not broken down into easy-to-manage steps. If you're not confident about approaching the school by yourself, go along with a friend, preferably one who has a good grasp of teaching and learning issues.

How about the school's environmental factors? For example, are there outside distractions that are easily visible through the classroom window? Is the classroom too hot, too cold, too stuffy, too draughty...? Is your child sitting next to someone who wants to play all the time - or who is suffering from ADHD?

If you have researched the symptoms of ADHD (Step 1), observed your child's concentration in a variety of situations (Step 2), and investigated the learning-and-teaching environment (Step 3), then the next step you need to take may be clearer - whether that is a referral to professional help, or an inquiry about adjustments in school, or whatever.

There's a lot more you could do to help your child concentrate, e.g. an examination of parenting skills and home activities, but taking these three steps could help you eliminate some common causes of poor concentration. So take these first steps - today!
About the Author
Frank McGinty is the author of the free 18-page report, 'How To Combat The Concentration Crisis In Our Schools'. To pick up your free copy and to access more free articles and answers to parenting questions drop by http://www.familysoftshop.com
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