Control of attention gradually develops throughout childhood in a process that is not finished until our mid-twenties!
There are several skills involved, including:
- focussing on a task or person for a while
- switching attention between things – for example between a toy and you giving an instruction
- blocking out distractions
You can see how these things can be quite hard. For example, a child may seem to be ignoring a request from you – but what is actually happening is that they are successfully blocking out distractions, but find it hard to “unstick” from what they are doing.
Or another child might “flit about” between activities, never quite settling.
Harvard University have put together some great ideas for developing children’s concentration skills
And here are some more ideas for particular issues:
Concentrating on what they are doing