When children have difficulty focusing their attention, schoolwork and friendships can suffer. David Life and Shannon Gannon of Jivumukti Yoga believe that providing children with calming activities, such as the practice of holistic yoga or mindfulness, can improve their ability to calm the mind and bring higher levels of concentration into focus–while also improving general health. You can teach your child some simple yoga techniques and other exercises to help with concentration.
Provide your child a quiet space where they can sit comfortably without distractions, such as her bedroom, your master bedroom or in your backyard.
Ask your child to close his eyes and rub one drop lavender essential oil onto the underside of each of his wrists. Lavender essential oil has been shown to promote calm and can be used as an olfactory trigger when your child needs to focus his attention, according to Jeanne Rose's "The Aromatherapy Book".
Set the timer for three minutes and instruct your child to breath in deeply through her nose and out through her mouth. The ability to slow the breath with full abdominal breathing provides the brain with oxygen rich blood. If you don't have a timer, watch a clock and gently ring a bell at the end of three minutes.
As your child breathes, have him picture the number one in his mind as he inhales. Upon his exhale he will repeat the image of the number one. With each inhale and exhale he will imagine the remaining numbers two through 10. When he has reached 10, the process is reversed from nine through one. Have your child slowly continue this process until three minutes has passed. The practice of yogic mindfulness helps to train the mind to eliminate past and future which brings calm and focus to the mind.
As your child's patience and ability to focus increases, increase the time spent in yogic meditation until she can sit mindfully breathing for 15 to 30 minutes each day.
Find ways for your child to use up excess energy, to prevent him from becoming restless when he needs to sit still and focus his attention. Walk your child to school, give him chores at home or sign him up for a sports program. Before your child sits down at home to work on school work, encourage him to do some jumping-jacks or jog in place to burn up some energy.
Eliminate as many distractions as possible. At home, keep the television turned off and take electronics away when you child needs to concentrate. Don't allow electronics, such as cell phones or tablets, to be taken to school with your child.
Help your child stay organized at school by providing him with a notebook or calendar to keep track of assignments and projects in. Encourage your child to make himself notes and to-do lists to stay focused.
Give your child breaks during homework time, so that he can get up to move around and maybe even get something to drink. Having short breaks can prevent your child from getting distracted and improve focus.
Praise your child for doing well and concentrating in school and at home. You could even give him small rewards for appreciation of his hard work.
- "Natural Mental Health"; Carla Wills-Brandon Ph.D.; 2000
- "Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling"; John Holt; 2003
- "Yoga Planet Deck (Yoga Cards)"; Tara Guber; 2008
- "The Aromatherapy Book"; Jeanne Rose; 1992
- "Jivumukti Yoga"; David Life and Shannon Gannon; 2002
- Oprah: Grab Their Attention: 11 Ways to Help Kids Get Focused and Stay Focused