8 Quick Ways to Get Your Child Focused & Listening to You
Proper focus and listening are two skills that we all need to master early in our lives. They go hand in hand as we need to completely focus to be able to listen to what is actually being said.
These skills are really what set the foundation to succeed in the many different challenges we will have to go through in our lifetime. It is especially important that we make sure our kids learn these as the rapid advancement of technology is bringing more and more distractions to the younger generation.
Kids are spending so much time engrossed in technology! With games easily accessible on phones and tablets, it all starts from a very young age with technology used as a "babysitter". Older kids are great at multi-tasking - messaging, checking their social media on their phone while watching TV or listening to music. They might also be eating or doing their homework at the same time. Try to grab their attention and you will end up being ignored, and we know that is FRUSTRATING.
By teaching our kids how to effectively focus and listen I am sure that they will be able to put their energy where it actually needs to be, and they will excel in anything they wish to pursue.
As with everything they learn, I know that this needs to start at home.
Here are some tips I have learned to help my kids:
1. Sit them down and talk to them about what they must prioritise.
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Let them know what they must complete first and what will happen if it is not accomplished as scheduled. Have them write down their goals for the future and explain why they need to start working on their dreams early on. Most children don’t like being told what to do, so by explaining it in detail they will understand why they need to do it and that there will be consequences they might regret should they choose to do otherwise.
2. Listening to parents is something that a lot of children struggle with.
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If they do struggle with this, imagine how much harder it will be for them to listen to other people. It is a bit more tricky than it sounds. To be able to really hear what another person is saying, one must have proper posture, be it standing up or sitting down. Remember what your parents or drill sergeants used to say? Back straight, chest out, chin up! Apparently, this affects the way we retain information so remind your children to be aware of their posture. If need be, don’t say what you need to say unless they are in the right position.
3. Stress that maintaining eye contact is also necessary to focus on what is being said.
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Impose this strictly, besides, it’s rude when you don’t look at the person talking.
4. Have them repeat what was said
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...if necessary, to confirm that they understood what was just conveyed. Ask them questions, or ask if they have questions, to check if they were really paying attention.
5. Aside from these internal distractions, kids also have external distractions to deal with.
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Let them know the difference between the two, give examples, so they will know how to deal with each one properly on their own.
6. Set strict rules on limiting gadget or screen times.
There will be a strong objection, obviously, but it is imperative that parents stand their ground. Allow very little room for negotiation, so they know that you mean business. Remind them that they need to finish homework and chores first and that they can have more time during weekends. Be an example, and avoid using your gadgets unless necessary as soon as you get home.
7. Set a schedule and guidelines for each of their activities, be it school work, house chores, meal or sleeping times.
For most children, having a set routine help keep them focused. They will get used to it in no time and will no longer need to be reminded that homework comes before play. Ensure that their study area is free from distractions, is conducive to studying and that they have all the resources they need. In no time, they will show great improvement in school.
8. Decide with your spouse whether or not you will reward good behaviour or grades.
Some people see it as a bribe while some argue it works well as a motivator. It does not have to be a material thing. It can be something they want to do or a place they want to visit. Always let them know when they are doing a good job or showing signs of improvement. Children should hear positive reinforcement and verbal praise more often than words of disappointment, negativity or punishment.
I have realised that the best way for me to teach the importance of focus and listening to my children is to let other people they interact with on a regular basis to work with me. Consistency is key. Over the years, I have asked the babysitter, their grandparents or even our neighbours to help me out.
I have also decided to supplement my personal efforts by enrolling them in a martial arts class. Aside from being able to work off their excess energy physically, and keeping them away from their gadgets for a couple of hours a week, I see the discipline needed in this sport. I believe that the same discipline will help them learn how to focus and listen properly, among many other things.
I have read a lot of positive reviews from other parents on how martial arts training has made a huge difference in their children’s focus and listening skills. Their attention to detail has improved and their school grades have noticeably improved.