Kids and focusing, or what I call, kids and curiosity / interest.
Focusing for kids (sometimes referred to as attention span) could just be the biggest deal, in the biggest picture of things, for many parents and educators. Health and happiness is what everyone wants for their little ones throughout their life. That takes a focus in the direction of, well, health and happiness... The big picture! Has a teacher mentioned that your child's focus is scattered? Would you like them to have a more advanced attention span? What about the old, "They are so bright! If they only applied themselves!" thing? What if your child/teen has potential for things like valedictorian or beyond? I've heard, if someone wants to build focus, they can study the Martial Arts. That could work but here's a couple of things to keep in mind if your kids are struggling with focus and to rethink if they even are. Q: Why focus anyway? A: Because we make things appear and disappear using our focus! We are focusing all of the time! Might as well make the things that feel great appear rather than disappear or even worse, never appear. We get what we focus on and we are always focusing on something. It's fun to look around and see proof of that everywhere. It's been said that our brain hates to focus on things longer than it wants to. It's incredibly focused when it's dealing with what is interesting at the time or curiosity is involved. Adults can forget sometimes that they may easily have the same focusing issues as our youth. Try to get an adult to do something or focus on something they don't want to and see how crabby or distracted they get in no time. Kids are similar. 5 things to consider when it comes to your child's focusing: acronym style ;) F O C U S F: fun O: outsource C: craziness U: understanding S: strength F: FUN It is important to remember that we live here to enjoy ourselves and the many experiences that we have and get back to that big picture anytime we stray from it. Especially if we guide kids! Some schooling, activities, and moments are not fun 100% of the time but little should stop us from making them fun! Joke, dance, act out (respectfully), and discuss the weirdest thoughts that come to mind on a subject so that focus may have a chance to surface. If it's not fun to talk about or play with, don't expect much attention. They're kids. They haven't been ridiculed enough to be boring and zombie-like yet. Prolong it! O: OUTSOURCE We are smart. We believe and argue over our perspectives. Because we are so smart, we know to outsource anything that is outside of our skill sets. If we aren't experts in developing focus in our kids, we get help from other sources like Martial Arts, and online and/or local professionals. Just like we send them to school, for their general education, again outside of our skill sets. C: CRAZINESS Craziness is just being silly and fun enough to make a kid pay attention for a bit. They tend to copy what they pay attention to. So they should see us being crazy (enthusiastic) in action, enjoying every minute of it. If we show them early, that creation and helping is "crazy", they have a good chance of focusing on things they have passion in. This can be tricky sometimes as we are very busy and don’t always spend the great deal of time required to help a child grow into a happy adult. Changes can be made with how much time we are giving, block more time off for each day with them. If that is a struggle, it may be a good time to grow our adult focusing skills. U: UNDERSTANDING Understanding that it is poisonous to develop focusing skills when destructive things are what will be focused on. It is better to let a child live in imagination la-la land with no training on focusing than to develop something that will hurt them. In other words, positive environments and positive attitudes about life's happenings! Otherwise we shouldn't be surprised if they focus on things that don't feel good and bring more of it into their lives. Every wise old person will advise to enjoy life, not remember what year the War of 1812 was. ;) S: STRENGTH Strength can mean powerful force. Focus is a very powerful force. No parent wants their kids to bring unhappiness into their lives. So they must be taught HOW to use focus (the force). They must learn to observe and appreciate, to look for and get into good stuff, to learn what builds and destroys Love! When the life lesson of -what you focus on is what you will be surrounded by and become- finally sinks in, they will use this force with true strength! What is arguably best for kids is that they get to use their incredibly powerful focus to go towards good and well-being. I doubt parents and teachers would like for their children to focus on what is harmful for them and bring more hate (or whatever the opposite of Love is called) into this world.
One key is to challenge ourselves to keep in mind that a focused person is extremely powerful!
I think it’s more about showing kids how to feed their curiosity and how to make things interesting. They should never be shut down when expressing themselves with well-focused energy! Know the difference between conformity (adult, boring, zombie behavior) and pure freedom of expression that kids still have and let them grow their concentration skills that way. Focus is always working at bringing their future to them. It is NOT useless when not understood, it is destructive! What do your kids talk, act, and think about most? That’s where they are heading.
Life may require focus on things that aren’t always a blast to think about or deal with. Unpleasant things can happen like unhappy home and/or school lives, anger, thin skin, and fear of anything. We can help the little guys by setting the example of choosing what to focus on. When they hear complaining, they learn to focus on the dark side of things. When they see enthusiasm, they learn a great way to focus!
To sum this up, it's not really that kids need to learn how to concentrate/focus or develop a longer attention span. They came around with that ability and normally it develops no matter what. What is important when it comes to this is that we help them use their power to have a good time while playing on this ball we live on for the rest of their lives. The kids have focus and will eventually be more disciplined into where to direct it (you know, like every adult out there ;) ). Inspire them to focus on feeling good and just smile knowing you're doing well with the big picture the next time their teacher says that they aren't very focused or if they can't pay attention for more than a ..... "oh, look, a squirrel!"
"If it's fun or cool, bring it. If it's not fun or cool and you have to bring it, try to make it fun or cool."
Respectfully, Derrick Maretti
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