Creative Child

How to Improve Your Child’s Focus Amidst the Clutter of Coronvirus

by Deborah Song

Strewn school supplies on the floor. Work files spread out across the dining table. Laptops stationed intermittently anywhere there’s a quiet or clean spot. Covid-19 has blunted boundaries that once kept our spaces – and our minds – organized. What’s resulted is not just audible cacophony at all hours of the day, but a constant buzzing in our minds that’s making it very difficult for anyone in a household to focus, kids included, even if they are the ones contributing to the majority of the noise.

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According to Kelly Kang, the lead psychiatrist at UCLA’s Behavioral Health Associates, the number one complaint she’s been seeing in her patients isn’t depression but a sudden fear they might have ADD.

“I’ve been getting a lot of referrals for patients who think they have ADD,” says Kang. “People are saying, ‘I can’t concentrate, I can’t focus, I can’t get things done.’ People are having to work in situations they’re not used to and they’ve had to adjust, whether it’s creating an office space in their home or working in the presence of children even if they’re in a separate room.”

While some circumstances may be out of our control, there are ways to take back control of our minds and empower our children to do the same. So before you throw in the towel and chalk up 2020 as a complete distractable wash, try these five tips. When it comes to our brains and our ability to focus, incremental differences can snowball into mountainous effects.

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1. Keep the desk free of clutter. Clutter might seem harmless but mess speaks to us constantly throughout the day. Researchers at Princeton University found that visual cortex can be overwhelmed by task-irrelevant objects, making it harder to allocate attention and complete tasks efficiently. Messiness can be a vicious cycle, one that may start with physical clutter but always ends in mental clutter, which can lead to more physical clutter.

Ambitions to maintain an entire work room tidy, however, may be grandiose during a pandemic. A more attainable goal might be to just keep your child’s desk clutter-free. Better yet, make this her responsibility. After all, if having chores is the best indicator for success, putting your child in charge of her study space might pay double dividends.

3. Let your child teach you. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn. Teaching requires your child to organize her thoughts, dig deeper, and recall what was difficult about a particular subject matter, reinforcing learning. Teaching is the process that turns a dilettante into an expert on a particular topic. So give yourself a break from teaching and overseeing your child’s virtual learning, and ask your child to teach something to you, a sibling, or even a friend online. Besides, Kids love to learn from each other because it immediately makes their learning relevant and expands the common ground from which friendships are formed.

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