Distracted Children: What Attention Should You Reinforce

It's necessary to know the types of attention that exist in order to know which is the most important to reinforce in distracted children.
Distracted Children: What Attention Should You Reinforce
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

You may think that you have a child who’s very distracted or absent-minded and therefore, doesn’t pay attention properly. They may look away when you talk to them and, at school, they may have their head in the clouds. If you’re worried about your child not paying attention, keep reading: we’re going to talk about what kind of attention needs to be reinforced in distracted children.

It’s important to know what types of attention exist in order to know how to help a child that lacks attention and concentration so that, at the same time, they’ll feel understood at every moment. This will motivate them to improve their performance!

Distracted children: types of attention and concentration

Attention is an abstract function of the brain, but the most important one. What are the types of attention that exist? What should you keep in mind when it comes to children’s learning? Take note:

A child sitting by an abacus, looking bored.
  • Selective. Selecting a stimulus for attention.
  • Divided. Paying attention to different stimuli at the same time.
  • Alternating. Shifting attention from one stimulus to another.
  • Sustained. Maintaining attention for a sustained period of time.
  • Concentration. Paying attention to a stimulus for a long period of time in a constant manner.

Distracted children and their attention capacity

Although there are other types of attention, these are the most common. What’s more, they can be combined with each other at certain times. We can also consider different types of attention:

  • Visual. Attention is paid with sight.
  • Auditory. Attention is paid by hearing.
  • Open. Attention is paid to one stimulus and to more than one if necessary.
  • Covert. Attention is paid to a stimulus that has nothing to do with what we’re doing (for example, you’re studying, but listening to your parents’ conversation).
  • Voluntary. Attention is consciously paid to a stimulus.
  • Involuntary. Attention is paid to a stimulus unconsciously.

At this point, you already know more types of attention and how you can combine them. So now it’s time to know what type of attention your child has and how it’s developing. It’s essential to work on motivation with distracted children to increase their capacity for retentive concentration on learning content.

Distracted children: the importance of motivation

If you have a child who’s distractible or you think they’re too absent-minded, then you need to identify the type of attention that works best for them as soon as possible. All types of attention are important if they’re worked on sufficiently to achieve good results. In addition to working on attention, you also need to work on motivation. Because without motivation, it won’t be worth it for them to pay attention in any way at any time.

Children must see academic and daily learning as a source of knowledge that’ll serve them for life; knowledge that will make them grow as people and prepare them for success. In fact, motivation is fundamental in any area of life.

Which attention’s more important?

A girl sitting at a laptop computer, looking way and playing with a pencil.

Working on effort will always be an important point so that motivation doesn’t wane. In this way, you can prevent your children from suffering too much frustration in terms of academic learning.

It’s essential to pay attention to obtain good results, and with effort, it can be achieved. It’s true that there are children who may find it more difficult than others, and even if they make an effort, they may not achieve the expected results. But what’s important is to praise the child’s effort, because if they keep on doing it, their attention will improve sooner or later. Their conscious attention will improve considerably, but patience is needed!

All types of attention are important and that’s why you need to work on them so that sustained attention dominates sooner or later in the most important concepts.

If you think your children have some kind of problem with attention, you need to go to a professional to evaluate their retention capacity and help them with personalized exercises if necessary.

Sometimes, doing puzzles, playing chess, or doing pastimes such as crossword puzzles for a short time each day is more than enough for attention to improve considerably. But in any case, talk to a professional you can assess your child’s case and can guide you in the best possible way.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.