Being able to concentrate and focus is one of the most important skills for anyone to learn. It relies on self-regulation and understanding how to be in the moment.
Many studies say how well a child can navigate life depends on their ability to self-regulate. It determines their ability to use tools in their toolbox for life and create successful social interactions.
There is a lot of evidence that clearly shows that self-regulators are more likely to be school-ready, have a greater sense of well being and will see greate academic success beyond their childhood years.
So what is it that self-regulators know that others don’t?
- They understand that success or failure is under their control not governed by external forces. They are accountable for their own decisions.
- They see failure as the fertilizer that develops success.
- They understand that success involves practice and hard work. That these cannot be avoided but should be embraced as the pay off for putting in the effort will well be worth it.
- Self-regulators will generally take on more challenges than others.
- Self-regulated learners are generally more at peace, happier and successful in life
- Self-regulation is all about teaching kids in particular how to follow instructions and persist even when they encounter enormous challenges. They understand they will find a way to overcome the challenges and reap the rewards.
- Self-regulated children can listen, pay attention, think, strategise and then act.
But how do you build self-regulation into your own or your child’s life?
Generally, there are three components to building self-regulation into your life that will improve your focus and concentration.
- Develop a working memory. This means learning how to hold information in your memory while taking in new information.
- Develop mental flexibility. There are always many ways to reach the end goal. Being able to think outside the box and flex your mental muscle on different possible journeys and strategies is great for building mental flexibility.
- Develop self-control. Learn and understand appropriate behaviours rather than just doing whatever you want to do. This means you need to be able to evaluate your environment, your audience and then behave appropriately to interact or communicate.
Developing and applying self-regulation strategies at home is easily achieved. Applying these tools will help your childs focus and concentration and build those life long regulatory skills. Here are a few games you can play that reinforce these strategies.
- Play Simon Says. Paying attention, listening and follow directions is critical to the success of this game. It will help your childs concentration levels.
- Heads shoulders knees and toes. We all know this game. Listening, Identification, Concentration, being in the moment and focusing are all key elements. However, you can take the benefits of this game up a notch if you get the players to do the opposite of what is asked. Saying Touch your head means touch your toes. Flex that mental muscle.
- Opposites. Improving concentrate and mental flexibility is achieved in this game by showing a picture and asking the child to say the opposite of what they see. For example, show a card that displays the moon. You would expect the answer to be the sun.
- Colouring in. Colouring in sheets have been used for years to develop concentration and focus in children. Staying in the lines. Imagination expression. Colour management. Storytelling all come from simple coloring-in sheets. Take it up a level using Mandela’s. Circular complex abstract designs with evenly distributed patterns. these create a feeling of balance and harmony and are a great way to calm stressed kids who are looking for structure and balance in their lives.
- Freeze. Dance along to music and then freeze when the music stops. Like musical chairs. Dance slowly to slow songs and fast to fast songs to connect rhythms and movement. When this is mastered flip the script and dance slow to fast and fast to slow. But don’t forget to freeze when the music stops. Concentrate and control.
The 5 simple games above will help develop great self-regulation skills and improve focus and concentration even in the oldest kid. Have fun bonding and playing these simple games and watch what happens over time. You may even notice variations on the above games within our martial arts classes. Flex your mental muscle and see what you can see.