Keeping with our deep concern for children and their holistic well being, Think Nurture brings to you a very critical topic in the context children’s development. Inability to pay attention is a challenge that begins in early childhood and when goes unrecognized and unchecked continues into adulthood. It can be deemed as a common reason why many adults find themselves unable to perform to their fullest potential. For such situations the awareness of the parent plays a pivotal role in helping the child overcome these challenges.

The complete and conclusive diagnostics of ADHD requires a very comprehensive evaluation. It entails medical, educational, behavioral and psycho-social assessment of the child’s behavior. Nevertheless, there are some very clear symptoms that may alert us long before. Take a look at the list that follows. They are all common activities seen in children, but there could be something more they may be indicating.

  • Compulsive running around
  • Inability to wait in queue
  • Restless and fidgeting
  • Cannot remain seated
  • Does not pay attention to details
  • Makes careless mistakes when writing
  • Cannot keep himself focused in a task
  • Does not listen to or follow instructions
  • Interrupts others
  • Gets distracted easily, whether in a conversation or task
  • Shirks tasks that cause mental exertion
  • Keeps losing stationery items etc

Each of these symptoms is perfectly normal to observe if it occurred individually. When you observe any more than three symptoms, for a period of time, it is a sign you cannot afford to ignore. It means that there is some challenge of lowered attention span that your child is undergoing. It is common in our times due to the environment which the child receives in the earliest part of childhood, say up to two years of age. (Read: Is Television your Child’s Babysitter?).

While some signs are very obvious, studies have shown that many times, the condition may manifest itself very slowly, and therefore the indications are a lot more subtle than what is mentioned in the list. Hyperactivity is a very apparent sign, but a sign like slow maturity of the senses leading to attention deficit could go unnoticed. It is an equally probable situation that your child could be showing any of these symptoms due to some specific, sudden or short-term change in his environment. Therefore, your first hand anxious evaluation may not be correct. ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, as it is termed needs a comprehensive evaluation and requires immense support and cooperation from the parent of the affected child. The matter is worth taking notice because these apparently minor childhood hiccups are the genesis of more serious challenges like learning disabilities, language disorders, mood disorders, compulsive disorders, personality and psychotic disorders and more.

There is little one can speak of with accuracy, as to what causes such a challenge, yet some obvious ones must be addressed. Exposure to television at a very early stage is most common of all reasons. It is also the easiest to keep a tab on. Children may pose great resistance to any new rule that you may impose on television viewing. (Read: Children and TV: Limiting your child’s Screen Time). As a parent you must remain focused on your commitment to help your child and not be emotionally destabilized by the child’s responses.

The most early and information about your child, if he is showing signs of low attention would come from the school. Teachers have a great advantage of being able to observe the child for a long time – when they are working, interacting and playing too. They are able to provide a comparative and qualitative feedback on the behavior and performance of the child. If any of the symptoms are reported about your child, it is in your best interest to take it up as they inevitably are going to impact the child’s academic performance. Your awareness will allow the symptoms to improve and help manage the challenge better. Also, tutorial assistance may be required for such children which are a decision to be taken collaboratively with the teacher.

In most cases, simple steps at home could enhance the impact of the therapy and for milder afflictions, it may be sufficient to manage the situation. Here are some suggestions:

  • Encourage disciplined living in your house
  • Sit with your child to create a routine for him
  • Stick to rules you create
  • Avoid experiences like shopping, channel surfing and multi-tasking for the child
  • Practice doing one activity at a time, e.g.- no eating in front of the television, no music during homework
  • Reduce the options you present the child with. It will help to focus on decision-making and choosing better
  • Allow rewards. Because for such children it is difficult to have them finish tasks, a reinforcement of positive effort would be effective
  • Reduce household activities which distract, especially around your child’s bedtime
  • Encourage the child to take part in team activities, whether social, or sports

Small consistent steps will yield result and boost your child’s development. Remember, such children are constantly battling low-esteem and dissatisfaction, your approach must compensate for that too. Parenting under such special circumstances must be defined by increased patience and compassion.