Does mindfulness improve the behavior of a child?
Your coco has trouble keeping his attention, is agitated and impulsive? It is not necessarily an AD / HD. Before going to the neuropsychologist for an evaluation or to the pharmacy for medication, first try to put these tips in place.
Attention, concentration and self-control vary from person to person. However, a difficulty in staying alert or a surplus of energy does not necessarily mean that the child is hyperactive or has ADHD. Several elements can influence the attentional abilities and self-control. Thus, fatigue, stress, an anxious personality, a lack of interest in the subject or academic difficulties can make it more difficult to concentrate and increase the desire to move.
Imagine for a moment that you have to attend a training all day, on a subject that you do not care about, while you are tired or preoccupied. Would you find it hard to stay alert and calm? If, in addition to the chairs are uncomfortable, the trainer boring and you have trouble understanding the material, what would happen? I think we ask a lot of our cocos who are at an age where they have much more desire to play.
But is the only solution to give psycho-stimulants to our children (Ritallin and others?) To know my position on the medication for children, I invite you to watch this video:
That said, children still have to go to school and learn. It is therefore important to help the child gradually develop these skills since they are essential to his academic and social success. Even the child who suffers from a real AD / HD, which is a neurochemical disorder, will benefit from reviewing certain habits in order to optimize his chances of improving his concentration and self-control.
I propose you a FREE video training in which you will find “My prescription” to develop the attention, the concentration and to better manage the impulsiveness of the children.
Here are also 10 tracks some ways of intervention:
1. Respond to the need to move
For the child who has “airplane gas”, the energy he has to deploy to stay calm in the classroom, if his need to move is not respected, is likely to impair his attention abilities and increase aggression.
- During the routine, plan activities where the child can spend his energy before the periods when he must remain calm (morning before school, before meals, before homework, before going to bed, etc.).
- Provide the child with something that takes care of his / her hands or feet while he / she has to stay calm: anti-stress ball, rope with knots to undo, hair elastic, modeling clay, pencils, etc.
2. Reduce sources of stress and stimulation
Stress is one of the most important factors influencing attention skills and self-control. Our children are also often over-stimulated and their “hard drive” is too often overloaded with information.
- Limit noise and reduce lighting (daylight when possible rather than neon and dim light in the evening).
- Slow the pace of life, reduce the number of structured activities and relax the weekends rather than organize family outings.
- Decrease the pressure placed on the child so that he has an irreproachable behavior and reduce the number of intervention and reproaches (“Do not do that, you’ll break it!”, “Say hello to the lady! You could smile! “,” Do not touch that! Eat right … “) Choose the essential interventions and drop the rest.
- Stop pushing the children constantly: (“Hurry! Hurry!”) And give him time to respect your instructions before repeating.
3. Increase the hours of sleep
Since a sleep deficit can greatly disrupt attention abilities:
- Have the child sleep 30 to 45 minutes earlier, leaving a few minutes for reading.
- Do not let them go to bed too late on the weekends. We make them happy on the spot but they are hurt in the medium term.
- Naps on weekends
4. Adopt a healthy diet
Food is the essence we provide to our brains. Poor gasoline can “foul” the engine and affect its operation. In this sense, I suggest you to:
- Reduce the amount of industrial foods.
- Eat less sugar, fat, dyes and preservatives.
- Pay special attention to lunch: not too much sugar (eg Nutella, juice), add protein and fiber.
- Check if the child can not have food intolerances (lactose, gluten, etc.). Poor digestion can greatly affect attention and mood.
- Add omega 3 to the diet (fish, walnuts, flaxseed, supplements) and check if the child does not have iron or zinc deficiency.
5. Reduce time in front of screens
Several studies have demonstrated the negative impact of excessive exposure to screens on the concentration, impulsivity and sleep of children and adults.
- Decrease the hours spent in front of the screens (phone, computer, tablet, video games and TV) to 2 hours per day at most (and it’s huge 2 hours!). If possible, ban them the week. Allow NO screen time before going to school. The screens, through the hormones they secrete to the brain (adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine among others) conspicuously overgrow the attentional abilities of the child and stimulate agitation and aggression.
- Also pay attention to the content to which the child is exposed. Violent games and movies increase agitation and impulsiveness.
6. Increase reading time
Reading, in addition to promoting calm, develops attentional abilities, the imagination and contributes greatly to the development of cognitive abilities.
- 20 to 30 minutes of reading a day can make a huge difference on academic results, even if you want to read with him.
- Make efforts to find a type of reading or series that will appeal to your child.
- The child can be offered twenty minutes of bedtime reading. “You read or you go to bed right away …” in the long run, he risks developing a taste for reading.
7. Regularly play table and board games (30 minutes of play per day)
Board games are a great way to train, through the
fun, the child’s ability to wait, think and find strategies, make links to cause and effect, anticipate situations, manage emotions, etc.)
- Play games that require concentration: puzzles, memory and logic games (Ottello, ladies, Rummy, etc.)
- Make sure that the child is having fun and that he is enjoying success: choose games that are adapted to his intellectual abilities and his ability to pay attention so that he can finish the game.
- Make games where the child needs to focus on more than one thing at a time, for example:
- Jump on the rhythm of the music while obeying visual instructions and stop running when the music stops;
- Walking on a line singing a song or answering questions from the educator;
- Play the tag while trying to keep a golf ball in a spoon, etc.
8. Facilitate learning:
Since not all children have the same needs and the same way of learning and encoding information:
- Use the three learning styles:
Auditory / verbal : briefly explain with words …
Visual / concrete : show what you want, make a demonstration, use pictograms, hold the object concerned …
Kinesthetic / Experiential : Live the experience, make scenarios, start the movement, hold hands, caress the back, associate learning to a movement, manipulate, etc.
- Speak and act slowly to give him time to understand, assimilate and process information.
- Keep an open and jovial attitude with the child during learning situations and try to arouse his curiosity.
- When he is tired and has trouble concentrating, allow him more frequent breaks, serve him his favorite drink, encourage him, allow him to listen to music (it can help the concentration sometimes).
- Also make sure he is comfortable (Does his chair allow him to have his feet on the floor, is his work table at a comfortable height for him?) And safe from distractions visual and auditory.
9. Help him to calm down when he is too agitated
- Lower the tone, speak little and sift the lights.
- Bring her near you, caress her back, play with her hands or fingers, give her a kiss, etc. Agitated children are often kinesthetic and respond well to touch if it is soft and warm.
- Ask him to breathe deeply and slowly 5 or 6 times by closing his eyes or fixing a point on the ground.
- Direct him or her to a quiet activity (drawing, books, Lego blocks, tactile stimulation tray, etc.) for a few minutes or invite her to take a bath or shower.
- Do a relaxation activity: massage, meditation, visualization, contraction / relaxation of the muscles, etc.
- Value him when he is calm, give him attention and help him to become aware of it.
10. To be indulgent
Since difficulties in focusing and controlling your agitation are often hard for the child to control:
- Avoid making him feel guilty for his agitation, his lack of attention and his forgetfulness;
- Also inducing him to be indulgent to himself by emphasizing that he is learning, reflecting his efforts and reminding him that everyone, even adults, also make mistakes, mistakes and sometimes lack ‘auto control.
- Being so indulgent to yourself, as a parent, because it’s difficult to stay patient with a child who moves like a cabbageworm, is distracted, loses everything and gets carried away with the slightest frustration! In any case, forgiving your impatience, you will be a great model for your children!