Living with a person who has a short attention span or perhaps Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.) isn’t always easy and does require a commitment for success. Until a professional diagnosis for A.D.D. is made, consider it a short attention span. Generally you cannot be sure about a short attention span until your child is 3 or 4 years of age, yet, you can improve behavior problems after 8 months of age. The ideas and suggestions that follow are intended for children; yet many of them are appropriate for persons of any age whom have a short attention span. A.D.D. and a short attention span are conditions that require management both at home and at school. If your child seems to have a poor attention span and is over 3 years of age, these recommendations may assist you in helping your child. Specific interventions will help to "stretch" the attention span.

Your child is essentially active and energetic. Accept your child's limitations. Remember this hyperactivity is not intentional. Daily outdoor activities are good outlets and provide healthy physical activity. During inclement weather your child needs space to play with minimal restrictions. Encouraging your child to play with one toy at a time rather than many develops focusing skills and results in less distraction. Be sure to praise your child for playing independently. Your goal is not to eliminate the hyperactivity but simply to bring it within reasonable control. Nothing helps a hyperactive child more than having tolerant, patient, low-keyed parents.

Stay organized by having routines. Maintain regular times for wake-up, meals, snacks, chores, naps, and bed. Keeping your environment relatively quiet will encourage thinking, listening and focusing. Routines will help hyperactive children to accept order and stay focused.

Avoid exhaustion and fatigue for the both of you. When a hyperactive child becomes fatigued self-control weakens and the hyperactivity strengthens. Try to have your child rest before fatigue sets in.

Social settings are difficult. Avoid inappropriate social settings with your hyperactive child. After your child develops adequate self-control at home then gradually introduce these situations to your child.

There’s no question that these children may be difficult to manage. They need carefully planned
discipline, acceptance and lots of love. Rules should be created mainly to prevent harm to your child and to others. Apply a few clear, consistent rules to eliminate aggressive behaviors, while avoiding unattainable rules. For example don’t expect your child to keep his/her feet still. You may add rules at your child's pace. Always keep it positive! Nonphysical punishment goes a very long way. Physical punishment suggests to your child that physically aggressive behavior is acceptable. Your goal is
less aggressive behavior. Your child needs adult role models of control and calmness. Handle misbehavior immediately. If a show of disapproval doesn’t work then use a time-out lasting 1 minute for each year of your child’s age.

Preparing your child for school ahead of time will actually stretch the attention span. Encouraging attentive behavior is very beneficial. Schedule brief periods each day to teach listening skills by reading to your child. Start with picture books gradually progressing to reading stories. Teach games to your child, gradually increasing the difficulty of the games. When your child becomes restless, stop and continue later. Praise your child for attentive behavior. This process is slow but invaluable!

The attitude at home must be that your child is a good child with excess energy. It is extremely important that you not give up. Your child must always feel acceptance and love within the family. As long as your child feels accepted their self-esteem will survive.

You too need time away from it all. Share in the responsibility of creating a loving home environment. A baby sitter once a week or an occasional evening out can amazingly recharge your batteries. Parents, you need to rejuvenate yourselves so you can continue to meet your child's extra needs.

Enroll your child in pre-school by age 3 to help teach organizational and focusing skills. Consider enrolling your child in kindergarten a year late so that the added maturity may help your child may fit-in better. Some standard approaches that teachers may use to help children are smaller class size, study space, and personal tasks. You can obtain help with your child’s schoolwork by working closely with the school staff. If your child has trouble doing well in school, focus on areas of strength to help gain a sense of success.

There is help. Traditional and alternative health care is both very beneficial. You may want to discuss the use of medications with your child's physician or health care provider. If you use medications, include individualized education plans, natural remedies and home management programs. Medications alone have no long-term benefit; they need to be part of a broader plan. There are also support groups both locally and nationwide. No one said it’s easy, yet it is successfully manageable

Author's Bio: 

Don C. Farrow, Jr., Ph.D. is a board certified holistic practitioner, author and Wellness Coach.