So, I was browsing through these fitness magazines… I think I should by myself new clothes from the sale going on… Christmas has the best sales ever, with such a happy vibe around… the food around that time of the year is another exciting story altogether…. Oh, the fitness magazines I was talking about…
Our brain is a spider-web of thoughts and ideas sparking from one thought process to the to the other constantly (AKA Neural Connections)This is happening in our brains everyday all the time, even while we are asleep. We have grown used to multi-tasking and at least ten tabs open all at once. This not only makes our work less efficient, but it also effects our brain in a way we fail to notice.
Almost every next parent is concerned about the declining attention span of their children. Many seek refuge from medications, and others just prefer prompting their kids every other minute to concentrate, without ever teaching them how to. Teaching the skill of concentrating is vital, and even if they are attentive, to be good at it, they will have to keep practicing it.
Let’s get to know Attention better.
What exactly is Attention? Simply put, Attention is a filter that allows you to choose what information you process among the thousands that you take in. Every second, our unconscious mind – with the five senses – is taking in 11 million bits of information. And only 60 bits are being recognized by the conscious mind. Our Attention Skill decides which information to take in. We are wrong when we spread the bandwidth of these 60 bits and multitask so that we don’t miss out on anything. And by doing this, we are training ourselves to master the act of distraction.
Identifying and facing the problem.
To be able to treat a problem, we first need to identify it. What actually is distraction? Why are we facing an attention deficit at times? Why does it become impossible for us to focus?
Many people consider distractions as the reason for not being attentive. Consequently, distractions are just a symptom that is trying to convey a certain problem going on in the brain. Consider the brain as a child, the more we answer their wishes, the more they demand. Similarly, our brain craves for the happiness it receives upon performing a certain task. And the very happiness urges us to act in the same manner again. When the addiction of happiness upon every task grows, our brain tends to jump from one task to another and tends to focus on the trivial most things.
The trick is to reduce the stimulation of our brains gradually. When the brain is not in the habit of these constant rewards, it won’t crave for it either – resulting to a better attention span. Distance yourself from gadgets that are constantly feeding and spoiling your brain with new feed. Fight and teach your child to fight the urge of switching tasks. Give up on multi-tasking while being fully aware of what you are attending and pull your mind back towards the primary task each time it wanders away. And most importantly, your mind should get accustomed to being bored and not look for an instant engaging activity. If it is in the habit of being bored, your mind will be equipped to concentrate without craving for frequent rewards also known as distractions.
An exercise to stay focused
A Chinese proverb says, “When you sit, sit!”
One exercise to stay focused and reduce the number of times you zone out is – to consciously be aware of where you are. When a lecture seems never ending, and each sentence transports you to another world, remind yourself where you are, how does the chair feel, what is the temperature, what voice can you hear. These questions will pull you back to the task you should be engaged in at present. Being attentive of the surroundings is a powerful skill. If newton wasn’t attentive about where he was and all his surroundings, we wouldn’t have known why apples fall.
A note to parents.
Remember, Attention Deficit Disorder have signs like inattention, impulsiveness, poor concentration, and variable amounts of hyperactivity, all extremely normal human characteristics. All of us are forgetful and inattentive at times, ADD is having these common traits – like being nervous and fidgety – that just manifest with abundance in some people.
If you wonder why your child can pay attention to video games but not a 35-minute class lecture, It is not because he is running away from studies or he is lazy. Video games provide rapid, constant feedback (stimulation) and tend to be very engaging for people with ADD. In the case of routine schoolwork, lack of sufficient stimulation results in distractions.
While ADD is curable, if left unattended can also have serious consequences. The best efforts taken by parents and teachers are like removing distractions, reducing workload, or isolating students into quiet areas. This may allow better performance temporarily but does nothing to develop the cognitive skill of attention long-term. That would be like treating poor vision by having someone read to you instead of getting glasses, contacts, or having surgery. Your future won’t be secured.
Children with difficulties in keeping attention also deserve the opportunity to overcome distractions and limitations this disorder presents. At Brainnovation, with its appropriate training and not just accommodation, presents that opportunity to each child and every adult that experiences such barriers in their daily life.