Is your child present focused?
Does your child complain about going somewhere only to have fun once you get them there? Once they are at a fun activity (birthday party, friend’s house, martial arts), does your child resist leaving? Sometimes, parents tell me that their child is difficult to get to class, but love it once they are there. As parents, we worry that our child may be losing interest in the activity. The good news is that this behavior does not necessarily mean that the child doesn’t like the activity. Instead the child is demonstrating a behavior known as “present focus”
Present focus is a child becoming focused on a current activity and not wanting to stop to start another activity even if they enjoy it. Younger children have difficulty thinking into the future and tend to seek instant gratification. For example, if you offer them a piece of their favorite candy now or a bag of the same candy a week from now. The child will most likely choose the piece now. Children lack the impulse control of adults, therefore, an important part of parenting is becoming the child’s impulse control until they create good habits and make good decisions.
5 tips to success
1. Remind them. Remind them about their schedule early in the day. Children easily forget their schedule and resist activities that they are not mentally prepared for.
2. Talk positively. Talk to them positively about their activities. Build an image in their minds about how much fun they will have.
3. Build excitement. Practice activities at home. This helps get them excited about going and puts them in the right mindset.
4. Limit highly stimulating activities. Don’t let them play their favorite video game right before leaving for an activity that seems to cause resistance to leaving. Have your child perform less stimulating activities like eating dinner or finishing homework.
5. Get a Friend involved. Children love hanging out with friends. If their friends are involved they are more likely to stay committed too.
By applying these tips, you can help to ensure your child’s success in any activity that they participate in.