TIPS TO HELP SCHOOL STUDENTS FOCUS
Learning to balance life’s pressures can be overwhelming at times. Lately, many teens are attending my clinical practice for 'anxiety' and inability to concentrate. Upon further investigation, I find that the symptoms they are describing as 'anxiety' or stress, are in fact all 100% normal.
Let’s look at it this way. If you see a lion approaching and you remain totally calm, you will be eaten! The 'stress’ that we experience gives us the 'motivation' to run and survive! Similarly, if there is a lot of homework or an upcoming test, they should be feeling a little 'nervous' as this is the feeling that motivates you to act.
If correct preparation is done (i.e., study for exams) and action is taken, then the feelings become manageable. Strong feelings won’t consume or overwhelm, leading to other, pathological conditions. Having tools to manage helps. Removing all the circumstances that create uncomfortable feelings doesn’t help build resilience. We can’t do the work for our teens, but we can give them some tools and teach them how to manage for themselves.
Good eating, exercise and sleeping habits are the best support. A regular routine helps maintain a calm, clear nervous system. Then with other stress management tools like breathing techniques and the steps we will focus on in this article, managing challenging situations can become easier.
In this technical age, the distractions for learners are varied and many. With social media, television, internet, smart phones, and so much more to choose from, it is difficult to focus for any length of time. The benefits of developing focused attention skills are many and can assist in general wellbeing, academic success, better relationships, and success in work.
Examples of focused attention are listening to a lecture, reading a book, watching a film, or making something without distraction. Here are some tips to help children learn healthy habits that can help achieve better outcomes with their schoolwork and home life.
Tips for children under 10
1) Set aside a reasonable amount of time for your child to practice focusing on a specific task. Young children can only concentrate for short periods, i.e., between 5 and 20 minutes.
2) Do one thing at a time. Try not to look at everything at once. Break big tasks down into smaller tasks and do one thing at a time.
3) Create a homework space. Work in a quiet place, away from the distraction of screens and other people.
4) Build in break times. Kids need to get up and move around between tasks. Rest, stretch, move, have a snack, or play break before sitting down to work on more tasks.
5) Practise observing things in the immediate environment. Young children are easily distracted by things around them, as well as sensations within their own body. A good tip to help them focus is to play a simple game like “eye spy,” sing a song together or do simple exercises to help shift their focus.
Practical tips to help older children and teens.
1) Limit distractions during homework time by removing screens from the room or switching off the TV. Have a designated spot for phones and electronic devices during school time. I’m not as strict about that as I used to be, but for a while we had our designated spot, and my teens could take a 5-10 minute break between subjects to read and reply to texts.
2) Use a file system or a box system with separate folders for different tasks. This is an amazingly simple visual method to help teens identify which tasks are complete and which are yet to be done. It’s like the old-fashioned office in-tray.
3) Create a study area. All teens can benefit from a dedicated study area, and it doesn’t need to be anything special. It just needs to be well stocked with useful items like paper, pencils & books etc to limit the need to get up and move around in order to find things. Motivation can remain high if everything is within easy reach.
4) Use a planner, diary, or wall chart to stay on top of tasks.
5) Establish an easy to follow after school and before school routine and reward the child for getting tasks done. This can be with anything you think is relevant to your child. It could be a favourite snack, or a playdate with a friend, extra screen time etc.
6) Use a timer to create pressure and challenge to beat the timer. It also means tasks don’t go on endlessly which can overwhelm teenagers.
7) Take breaks. Eat, move, check your phone etc, anything to create a short break before diving into the next task.
HOMEOPATHY FOR TEENS
If your child needs further support, the following homeopathic remedies may be useful in building resilience and make feelings manageable. In combination with the steps listed above, they may help support them to concentrate and move forward with tasks.
Please note these are general recommendations, make sure to seek individual advice if symptoms persist.
Nux vomica: inability to focus due to an overactive mind that is always thinking of work, they like to win/ achieve and crave stimulants to keep them going, they struggle to switch off at night and may suffer from stomach aches, constipation and bloating.
Coffea: very restless, over excitement, on edge, heart palpitations and shaky, mind jumps from subject to subject rapidly.
Could be the remedy you need to assist children and adults who struggle to focus and concentrate on their work. Use 5 drops under the tongue before completing tasks requiring concentration.
Q Drops are available directly from me, for $25 per bottle.
If you are concerned about your child’s inability to work through tasks or would like a more personalised consultation to address your specific needs, you can book in to see me via the link on the website.
You can also contact me directly on 0415 847 429.