You might have experienced this- you are reading aloud a book to your 15-month- old kid and halfway through she wanders away across the room towards the bookshelf. Well! This is a perfectly normal behaviour for her. Psychologists explain that toddlers are innately distractible. They cannot stick on with one thing as long as an older child or adults can. After a couple of minutes, they venture in search of other things. Besides, another reason for your toddler to not comply with your instructions is that she is taking the first step towards becoming her own person. She is walking her way to independence and may tend to do exactly the opposite of what you might have suggested to her.
Read on to find simple ways to get attention of your toddler and have them be seated for a couple minutes to play with a toy or draw etc.
- First and foremost, is your time. If you want results, it require good quality time. Take time out from your social networking and other stuff and focus on your child’s future. Father’s too have equal responsibility to take out time.
- Get down to their level to talk to them. Squat down or pick them up, make an eye contact to get their attention to what you have to say.
- Put in confident good humor in your language. Use silly voices, make up tunes to sentences or sing your instructions to them. For example, if you want to tell them, ‘It’s time to take a bath’, just sing it to them. This will intrigue them to listen to you. Always remember, yelling instructions may get the work done, but no one enjoys the process of doing it.
- Never impose your choice of play or activity on them. Let them choose what they want for themselves. This makes them pay more attention to things they do while enjoying the task.
- Television or videos are a complete ‘No No’ in the first two years of a child’s life. In fact, TV, rattles and other noise-making toys overwhelm a child’s attention rather than encouraging the child to actively flex his/her muscles to focus. On the contrary, give them toys that are more open-ended so that they can curiously engage in them with more than one special sense.
Children enjoy games. Engage with them in fun-filled games so that they learn to pay attention. Here are few games you can play with your children:
- Make hand puppets or finger puppets and use them to give simple instructions (like clap your hands, spin around, etc) to your child. It paves the path for the budding independence of the child as it is a friendly puppet that is instructing them.
- Go on a treasure hunt with them. This way they learn to follow two- to three-step instructions as well.
- Mimic voices. Draw the child’s attention to the distantly heard voices and then both of you can mimic it one by one.
- Use flashlight to focus on different objects in a dark room and let them name them.
- Last but not the least, model good behavior. Listen to them respectfully and they will learn to be good listeners.
A long attention span is vital for creative, athletic and academic achievement. Attentive listeners make the best friends, spouses and parents. The basic skills of focusing and concentrating learnt in the first few years of life go a long way to help them deal with difficult problems of life and pursue their dreams.
Written By- Dr Rahul Varma