(Last Updated On: August 15, 2023)

Let’s read this blog to know the symptoms and causes of short attention span in children, as well as how to deal with this phenomenon properly. 

Attention span, as defined in the Cambridge dictionary, is the length of time that someone can keep their thoughts and interest fixed on something. So, short attention span is the state when a person is easily distracted or has difficulties in maintaining concentration on tasks. This phenomenon is casually more common in kids than in adults.   

short attention span in child thumb

Some typical signs for a short attention span in children are: 

  • Not complete tasks
  • Not listen and get distracted easily
  • Not communicate well
  • Get bored easily
  • Make mistakes frequently
  • Forget and miss out on information easily
  • Read long texts with difficulty

Causes of Short Attention Span in Child

There are both subjective and objective causes of short attention span in children. The underlying cause of this situation in each child may vary. So, if your child is undergoing this phenomenon, it is necessary to find out the roots of the problem. 

External Factors

Kids at early ages are still in the phase of learning and discovering the world around them. They tend to be curious about the new and the unseen before. Once such new things catch their attention, kids can no longer stay focused on what they are doing. Therefore, such external factors are the main cause for the short attention span in children. And, they need time and training to be able to get rid of this habit. 

For instance, many parents might realize that when their child is doing assigned tasks, the appearance of an animal like butterflies or bees will definitely interrupt their concentration. Or, if parents are watching TV, most children can never stay still and finish their homework. 

Development of Modern Technology

Though technology can be listed as one of the factors in the first cause, this should be separated as another main cause for short attention span in a child. This cause in fact does not only take place in children but also in adults. Take this survey of the UK public conducted at King’s College London in 2022 as an example. The survey reveals that 67% of the people questioned said despite their effort, they just can’t stop checking their smartphones when they should be focusing on other things. Technology like social media, smartphones, tablets, TV, radio, and so on has been such a huge temptation to adults. So, what guarantees it will not be the same to children with the fact that children nowadays are allowed to get used to technologies sooner than ever?

Of course, no one can deny the advantages and conveniences technology has brought to life, especially to education in hard times like COVID 19. However, kids’ early approach to it definitely causes them to be more dependent on devices and lazier in thinking. The modern world full of interests and novelty like games, internet, and media has gradually distracted the children from acquiring and learning the traditional and basic values. 

Inappropriate Upbringing from Parents 

Many parents have accidentally educated their children in an appropriate way, leading to such situations like short attention span in kids. 

There are parents who focus on their kids a lot. They want their children to perform well at school, learn as much knowledge as possible, and earn achievements like high scores. Normally, they are great goals, but obviously, too much is never good. High hopes in children tend to lead the parents to push them into strict and overloaded learning at high tendency. The signs of this are many homework tasks, leapfrogging learning, lengthy and difficult assignments, or extra classes. It is because of this over caring that can make any child feel easily discouraged and under pressure. And, gradually, children tend to give up on difficult tasks, and move their attention to more simple things. 

Meanwhile, other parents might be too busy to fully pay attention to their kids. They leave the educating work for teachers and tutor, and use technology as the must-have tool and communication. We all know the possible consequences when children approach technology too soon. They become more dependent and lazier, especially if not under close supervision and control. The focus ability then reduces considerably, and short attention span signs soon take place.   

Special Mental/ Medical Conditions

In some rare cases, a short attention span in a child is caused by mental health problems like ADHD or disorders. For example, some common disorders are learning disorder, sensory processing disorder, mood disorder (depression), autism spectrum disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. In other cases, children might cope with this phenomenon due to unwanted health issues like head injuries. 

How to Deal with Short Attention Span in Kids?

How to deal with a short attention span in children depends on the underlying cause in each case. It’s best to find the right solutions as soon as possible before it becomes a hard-to-quit habit in kids.

Break down Tasks & Focus on A Single Task at A Time

Do not try to make your children work on multiple tasks at a time. Neither should you make them put effort on a lengthy and difficult task when they have not got the ability yet. Everything needs to take steps. So, stay tuned and stick with the single and simple task first. Then increase the level of difficulty and complexity after witnessing their development. 

And, split a long task into smaller ones. For example, instead of making the kids learn and do assignments in 1 hour long, try breaking it down into 3 sessions, each lasting 15 minutes. Leave a 5-minute break between each session so that children can rest. During this rest time, you can go with some light physical exercises or games, or give them some rewards as praise for their effort. Be patient, understanding, and supportive to kids. Then, a short attention span is no longer a worrying concern. 

Build Structured Routines & Schedules

Building structured routines for children is another essential treatment to a short attention span. “Structured” here does not mean strict, dense, and pressured. The structured routine should be reasonably and scientifically established with the purpose of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With this fixed schedule, children can better focus their attention on the fixed task at a time. Later on, such routines like consistent morning habits, designated learning hours, and consistent sleep schedules will show the benefits. And, getting enough sleep can definitely reduce memory loss, difficulty learning, and dwindling attention span.

Combine Learning with Physical Activities

Physical activities have always shown their good impacts in numerous situations at different ages. And, to cope with this short attention span phenomenon, this is no doubt a good way, too. Several studies by the USA National Library of Medicine have proved that exercise improves attention and focus in people with ADHD. Of course, not only ADHD, but also potential mental health issues can be prevented thanks to regular exercise habits. So, establish some work-out routines for kids and integrate them into their daily life. Parents will soon discover the efficiency exercises bring back to kids in general. 

Boost Brain Power with Games & Interactive Elements

Brain training is a must-have process in nurturing a child. This phase is remarkably important as it will help form the child’s personality and perception. And, the process should take place when children are at early ages to be fully effective. It has been proved that attention span is a cognitive skill set that can be improved and developed. The brain is like a muscle. The more you train it, the better it becomes. Brain training targets and stimulates the underactive region of the brain responsible for the characteristics of inattention. Such IQ increasing games like tactics, strategy, puzzle, and finding missing objects games can be extremely beneficial to concentration. 

Spot the Difference by ActivePresenter

Besides, integrating interactive elements during the teaching process will definitely increase focus ability in kids. They always appeal to visual factors. So, pay attention to the kids’ learning materials. If they are in the form of lengthy and boring documents, try making them into interactive ones with more visuals and sound to trigger kids’ curiosity, increase their concentration and excitement. 

Banner download AP

Provide Healthy & Nutritious Meals

Building a healthy and nutritious eating habit is a need and a must to not only prevent short attention span in kids but also boost the brain power in general. Such brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene can be found in leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli. And, practice your kids to eat more fish to absorb enough omega-3 and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. You can search nutrition-related knowledge from reliable publishers like Harvard Health Publishing or MedicalNewsToday. So, make sure to research carefully and build a nutritious meal plan everyday for your kids to grow comprehensively.

healthy food to reduce short attention span in kids

Furthermore, dehydration can worsen the ability to think. Staying hydrated is important for your body and mind. So, don’t forget to remind your children and yourself to drink water every day. 

Know When to Help and Get Help

Parents’ orientation and guidance of kids at an early age are required to ensure they develop properly. Therefore, it’s necessary for moms and dads to be the role model for the children to follow. Children pay more attention to things and people closest to them. From daily routines to entertaining activities, parents should make sure to get involved moderately. Be aware of what you want your children to do and what they like to do, too. For example, if you want your children to focus on reading, you need to learn what interests them and find books, magazines, or comics that will appeal to their interests. Integrating their interests will reduce a short attention span in kids to the utmost. 

Sometimes, a child may have attention problems that are difficult to solve with simple strategies. This time, parents may need help from a teacher, a pediatrician, or even a psychologist. So, moms and dads must carefully supervise the kids and soon detect health problems in time before worse situations. In the end, all parents want their kids to grow up comprehensively without any problems.

Final Thoughts on Short Attention Span in Child

To sum up, it is undeniable that there are numerous problems that might arise during a kid’s upbringing, including issues like a short attention span. Therefore, parents are advised to be patient and well-prepared in all possible situations. In any case, eLearning authoring tools like ActivePresenter can accompany and assist you the best in the process of training your kids. With ActivePresenter, you can unlimitedly design eLearning games, quizzes, and interactive materials that can attract your kids’ attention and increase their focus ability. ActivePresenter has been the ultimate and trustworthy tool used in schools, universities, and corporations. Therefore, don’t hesitate to give the software a try, as well as follow our Blog to not miss helpful tips in parenting.

See Also

Pros, Cons, and How to Use AI Tools for Education

Top 6 Flipped Classroom Activities for Kids