Need Ideas on How to Help Keep My Child Focused

Updated on April 08, 2009
K.F. asks from Aurora, IL
13 answers

I have a 7 year old child and at times she has trouble staying focused. When I ask her to do something I am lucky if she gets half of the job done. Sometimes she claims to forget that i told her to do something. I have tried routine lists such as wake up,brush teeth,get dressed,eat breakfast they seem to work for a week or 2 and then she gets bored If anyone has any creative ideas that would be great thanks

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answers from Chicago on

Hi, K. -

I read all the great ideas and have used charts and other things for my kids on a daily basis also....a more long term fix - have you considered signing her up for karate? It really really helps them learn how to focus and take pride in their accomplishments. Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

Ask your child what she wants to have happen to help her. My daughter wanted that added up for prizes. It worked. xo



answers from Chicago on

My daughter has ADD and we are still working on getting her on the right medication. In the meantime, she has her "To Do List" on an Excel spreadsheet, which she designed herself. When she finished one morning task, I have her tell me and we cheer, "Great Job", etc. Then she goes and checks it off her list. I may have to remind her to mark it quickly and move to the next task. She has to get up a little earlier to allow time for this, but the little break between tasks helps her. ADD kids can only stay focused for 20 minutes at a time, if you're lucky. And they seem to do well with the computer and being in charge of their own thing. When she has finished everything (except putting on her coat), she can watch TV, or play a game, or whatever she wants.

When you tell her to do something, say her name first and pause until you know you have her attention. And have her ackowledge that she heard you.

Hope it helps.



answers from Chicago on

Mybe you could try to use a timer to get her to do tasks in a timely fashion.



answers from Chicago on

Make her a weekly or monthly chart and give her a star on each day she completes the written tasks. If you don't give up, she won't either...Make sure you put the proper "order" on the chart.



answers from Chicago on

A lot of it is just the age, I have a 7-year old and many in my class and NO 7-year old stays focused!

I made the Morning Routine with pictures and I keep it the same. I added times on the chart (she just learned how to tell time) so she knows she has until 8:15 to get dressed. At 8:15 I'll come in the room and if she's not dressed she gets a Warning.

It has taken a LONG time to get the routine in so don't get discouraged. My stepdaughter is at her mom's 1/2 the time with NO routine so it's been difficult. But eventually it sinks in! We go through stages where she's fine, and then she'll just stop doing it.

Every now and then we have a talk about how it's her responsibility to do her routine. And what if I didn't do my responsibility? What if I just didn't feed her? How would that be?

If I don't stay on her, she will let the routine go. I don't think it's because she's "bored" it's because she doesn't really want to do it. We do reward her, if she gets ready in time in the morning she is allowed to play Webkinz. That has helped.

I think 7 is the age where we know they are CAPABLE of doing things on their own, but at 7 they don't realize WHY they need to brush their teeth or why they need to get to bed on time and so they dawdle.

Also, my stepdaughter does not quite have a good concept of time. She will be genuinely surprised if I point out that she has been fooling around for 10 minutes. I think until they get the concept, they really don't see a point in getting something done in a timely manner. You can try setting a timer. It doesn't work for us, but it might make things fun for you!



answers from Chicago on

Is she on any new medications??? This happened to our daughter at the age of 6 or so and it was her asthma meds. Even though she had been taking htem for over a year it start to make her ADHD etc and she couldt focus and sit still. We got her on some probiotics to help and change the inhaler. It took two more times to find the rit fit with the medicine but it worked. She is off her meds but we still do the probiotic and WOW what a diffference she was getting 5 out 10 or 6 out of ten on her spelling test and boom after the probiotic she gets 10 out of 1o at the least 9 out of 10 and she even does the extra challenge words and get them right!
sorry my two cents hope it helps and if you want the name of the probiotic we use it is by clair labs it is all allergy free and no corn, milk, soy etc. I get it at All Ways healthy in Lake Zurich, IL. you can get it on the internet and there are tons at whole foods. I like this one becaue it is powder and she drinks it and as it goes down it is working in the mouth , esophagus and then to the Gi trac. Where if you take a chewable it goes straight to the stomach and does not stick to anything other Gi area on the way down.
good luck



answers from Chicago on

I'm a single Mom to four children ages 7 - 15. About 3 years ago they were absolutely making me crazy in the morning:-) With four of them it was hard to stay on top of who had done what to get ready...

So (confession time) one morning in total frustration, I pulled a piece of construction paper off the shelf. I used a ruler to draw lines across it. Then I wrote:

Note: Comments in paranthesis are not on the chart.

Bathroom (Yes, I needed to say when you get up go to the bathroom)

Meds/Pills (I have one with epilepsy and it works when someone is sick too)

Dressed (Clothes and socks too)


Brush Teeth

Hair (No, they won't automatically think to do it)

Bed Clean (even little ones can straighten their covers)

Car or Table (If we're going somewhere, the car. If we aren't the table, because we homeschool.)

I also used stickers/pictures to illustrate each thing because I had a four year old non-reader at the time. I also think the visual is great.

I also put it right on the refrigerator (central location) and it's been there ever since.

Now, I didn't think it would work. But I started that very morning. We start at the top:

Did you go to the bathroom?

Okay, great! Did you...

If I see one of them get distracted, all I say is, "Did you finish your chart?" Which sends them running to look at it.

It took a couple of weeks for it to become habit, but it did. And now I rarely have to remind them. It has become habit and they use it every day.

I think the key was consistency. Before that I kept trying to change the chart (keep it interesting)... Or I tried to verbally tell them which kept me in the middle chasing them through every morning. They couldn't get a routine going because of it.

Hope it helps!




answers from Chicago on

I am having the same problems with my 6 1/2 daughter. I would love to hear what advice people have for you. I feel like I am nagging her all the time! I ask her to do things like brush her teeth or go to the bathroom before we leave the house, but she often lies about doing them, because she knows she will get introuble for not follow directions again. Even her teacher says she is easily distracted in school during whole group instruction. She is so sweet and loving, but it is so hard to balance her being a little girl with following simple directions. Thanks!



answers from Chicago on

You've already gotten lots of good advice, so I'll just leave some encouragement: When my oldest daughter was this age, I thought I'd lose my mind over this issue! She didn't seem to be consciously disobeying, but she rarely finished a task. She would do half the job and then get distracted or interested in something else and never finish.(I think there might be some mild ADD with my daughter, but it's never been diagnosed or treated in any way.) Anyway, she is now 17, and the most responsible person I know, including me!! She is taking college classes and getting A's, and I never even have to ask her if things are done. She keeps her room tidier than I keep mine, and helps me greatly around the house. Unless you see this as rebellion on your daughter's part, just give her loving encouragment and put in place some of the tools others have suggested below, and then give her the most valuable gift of all: TIME! She will mature- I promise!



answers from Chicago on

When I was young my mother made a monthly poster with the days of the week & all the chores we were responsible for. Each time we completed a chore we got to put a star next to it. It was fun & gratifying to see all those stars on the poster. I still remember that one day I kept putting off brushing my teeth in the morning, so I didn't get a star. That made me feel really bad & I never missed a star again.



answers from Chicago on

As far as the routine goes, you could take pictures of her doing the things you want her to do and put them up, in order on a fancy board. That way she will see what she is supposed to do next and know (after some time) to go back to the board if she forgets the next step.
good luck,



answers from Chicago on

I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for but... we have a "no fire drill in the morning rule" in our home. That means that things are done on a timely basis. You do your morning routine and you it to the best of your ability, and do it peacefully (i.e. make your bed, pick up old clothes, brush teeth, comb hair, eat breakfast, feed the dog). Also, the night before (and I used to make my kids write their reminders on post-it notes) .. .lay out clothes for next day, take a shower, organize stuff for backpack. Of course, homework is a given.

If they cause a "fire drill" in the morning (i.e. totally disorganized and running around like a chicken without a head!) they get ONE GRACE PERIOD. After that, if it happens, I implement the "no fire drill rule" and they are instantly grounded for one hour, AFTER SCHOOL, AFTER all homework is completed, (which they hate because they usually do homework after dinner!) , AFTER dog is walked and ALL forgotten chores are done - their hour begins! The "hour" grounding doesn't sound like a big deal but with all the stuff that they have to do after school - they are flying around to just get to their hour grounding. When they have a friend or two ringing the doorbell just after school on a beautiful day... it's rough! Only once did I ever have to go to the two hour rule. I started this system when my daughter was in 2nd grade.

She is young so she is learning. Consistency and positive reinforcement is the key. Charts to help her remember to complete her tasks and a reward system is definitely helpful.

Good luck.

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