When you have an easily distracted child training them in anything seems to be a never ending task. We seem to be forever reminding, following, and catching up because they didn’t carry through when we asked.

Tips for Teaching a Distracted Child Focusing Skills

Here are a few things that I’m working on at the moment:

Clear understanding of what needs to be done

I haven’t used Managers of their Chores, but my friend has and one of the tools they use is to make a wearable list so that the child has it with them throughout chore time, until they report back to Mum to say all is done.  Seems like a good idea for the easily distracted child.  (The wearable list is made to hang on a lanyard)

When I consider how I best stay on track (and my mother wrote lists for me at 10 years old because I kept forgetting what she told me to do), I work best if my list is written up fresh.  I love the idea of a check list that is photocopied and is the same every day etc but reality is if I write the list, if I process as I’m writing then I do better.  I wonder if my easily distracted child is the same – more than likely!!

So instead of a reproducible check list that gets looked at each day I am going to write her a fresh list every day.  Yes,  this will take time but….. it will be time where we will be together, reviewing what needs to be done.  Afterall she isn’t remembering herself so she obviously needs more training!  As I write the list she’ll watch me and hear me as I talk about each task.  Involving more of her 5-senses has to be a good thing!

Simply done – we get together at the beginning of each chore session, I write a quick list of what is expected of her, talking about it as we go.  She takes the list and is responsible to bring it back to me – ticked off if she likes, when it is all done.  Hands on reminders!

Giving a Clear time frame
My easily distracted child has a different understanding of time than I do. Her understanding of time is that it is a concept of space that needs to be filled with fun things!    We have talked about the fact that time is a set thing – I can’t create more time for her.  If she chooses to use her time unwisely, then she runs out of time for the things that she wants to do.  I cannot create more time.

A timer helps.  This then becomes her personal race against time, rather than a reaction against me.

Creating Motivation – reward at the end
I think a reward may help her as she develops this skill of staying focused and not being distracted.  The best reward I can think of, and it is a natural consequence that is consistent with anyone, is that when you complete a task on time, or earlier, you have free time.

I am going to ‘dangle’ free time as the reward/consequence of staying focused.  Free time to use as she desires (thought probably not screen time – because that will probably come up as something she’ll want!)

Determining Consequences
If I look back at the consequences of her dawdling that I listed at the beginning of this post it seems that I suffer the consequences.  I am the one who completes the tasks she should have done, but didn’t get to due to being distracted or going slow.  I am the one that reminds, encourages, and coerces.  Shouldn’t be!

So first thing – I need to recognise the natural consequences of her dawdling (things not being done) and have her complete them in her play time / free time.

Confirming My Responsibilities
Whenever I start a training season I have to look at my part to play not just the childs.  So I run through this checklist:

1.  Have I trained (in this case, she has the skills for the tasks that have been given, but I will be helping her, guiding her to develop focus skills – which is different than doing the tasks like picking up toys, making bed, packing her backpack etc)

2.  Does she have appropriate times to do the tasks assigned?  (I have to actually have time for her to do it, and for me to correct her – during training I have to factor in that there will be correction time and a need for consequences to be worked out.)

3.  Do I follow up and inspect – she will push the limits if I’m not onto it and training will go down the tube!

 

Teaching our children to focus means we have to be patient, resourceful and wise. Patient because getting cross or angry doesn’t help her learn to be focused and stay on track.  Also me getting angry is my issue – two wrongs don’t make a right.  Resourceful & Wise – we have to think outside the box to be able to identify what our child is believing or understanding and how we can help them understand their responsibilities better.

Further Reading

Giving Instructions to the Easily Distracted Child:  When giving instructions to the easily distracted child, we need to focus on how to help them, instead of being frustrated with them.

5 Simple Strategies to Help your Easily Distracted Child:  The distracted child finds it hard to complete anything. These practical ideas will help them learn new habits so they can focus.

Over to you:

Do you have an easily distracted child?  How do you teach them to focus and push through till the end of the task?

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