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Helping your child to improve his/her concentration

Life is very difficult for our little ones with concentration difficulties. They are often missing out on information and instructions and as a result get into trouble both at school and at home.

  • Make sure you have your child’s attention before you give an instruction.
  • Touch your child on the shoulder and ensure you have eye contact as you talk to him/her.
  • Keep your instructions short and simple and if necessary ask your child to repeat what you have just said.
  • Reward your child for any attempts to follow your instructions by praising and reinforcing what he/she has done. You should be praising the effort and not the quality of the product.
  • Tasks often need to be broken down with you doing part of the task and your child completing it. As your child improves, you can give less assistance.
  • Give a warning 10- 15 minutes before a change in activity so that your child has time to get used to the idea. For example, “in 10 minutes time we need to leave for swimming lessons, you can play for 5 more minutes and then we need to tidy up”.
  • Counting 1,2,3 – this is a well tried, old technique that gives a little bit of space needed to avoid a reflex refusal. State the rule, say “One”, wait five seconds, “Two”, wait five seconds, “Three”, then act. Most children will learn to co-operate by “Two”.

Marcelle Niehaus
Occupational therapist