10 Concentration and Focus Building Techniques for Children with ADHD (2022)

Imagine that you are living inside a video game, where everything is coming at you at once. Every sight, sound, and sensation is a distraction. For a child with ADHD, getting through a typical day is something like that. And it explains a great deal about how they experience the world.

Children with ADHD typically have impairment of functions such as concentration, memory, impulse control, processing speed, and an inability to follow directions.

“The good news…there is something you can do to help your child with ADHD to improve their concentration skills.”

If you’re a parent of a child with ADD or ADHD, this most likely sounds all too familiar. Over the years, you’ve probably struggled through homework sessions with your child and tried (and failed) to get them to complete certain tasks like cleaning their room or finishing yard work. And on more than one occasion, you’ve probably felt completely drained by their high energy and seeming inability to focus.

The good news is, there is something you can do to help your child with ADHD to improve their concentration skills.

For years it was thought that each of us was born with a generous supply of brain cells but that we were unable to produce additional cells or make changes in how they function. Fairly recently, neuroscientists discovered the presence of something called neuroplasticity, which enables the brain to actually grow additional cells or modify the function of existing cells.

Amazingly, cognitive exercises have been found to produce desired changes in how the brain works and how it looks. What this means for parents is that you now can work with your child to help improve their ADHD symptoms.

Think of it this way: when you want to build up your muscles, what do you do? You do strength and endurance training. Brain exercises basically work on the same principle. They’re a way of helping your child build up focus and endurance in order to strengthen their ability to concentrate, process, and manage their emotions.

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As a child psychologist and the father of a son with ADHD, I developed a host of exercises that help kids with ADHD improve their concentration. The key is presenting them as games that are fun for parents and children to do together.

Here are a few simple exercises to get you started. While doing these exercises together, be sure to provide reinforcement in the form of praise and encouragement. Keep a record of progress (usually, this will include how fast your child can complete a task or how long they can continue a task).

1. The Coin Game

Parents like this game because it improves memory and sequencing, as well as attention and concentration. And kids enjoy it because it’s fast-paced and fun.

First, you will need a small pile of assorted coins, a cardboard sheet to cover them, and a stopwatch or timer (there are lots of free timer apps available for your phone). Choose five of the coins from the pile (for this example, we’ll say three pennies and two nickels) and put them into a sequence.

Now, say to your child: “Look carefully at the coins arranged on the table.”

Then, cover the coins with the cardboard. Start the timer, and then ask them to make the same pattern using the coins from the pile. When they are finished, mark the time with the timer and remove the cardboard cover.

Write down the time it takes them to complete the pattern and whether or not they are correct. If your child doesn’t complete it correctly, have them keep trying until they can do it.

You can increase the difficulty of the patterns as you go and include pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars. You’ll see your child’s concentration and sequencing improve the more they play, which is a great reward for both of you.

(Video) How To Get A Kid With ADHD To Focus

2. Relaxation and Positive Imagery

Combining simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing with positive visual imagery helps the brain to improve or learn new skills. For instance, research shows that if a person mentally practices their golf swing, the brain actually records the imaginary trials the same as if they were real trials, which leads to improvement on the golf course.

In other words, kids with ADHD can imagine that they’re paying attention in class or handling teasing, which can change their behavior at school. You and your child can use your creativity and give this a try.

3. Mind-Body Integration

An example of this technique would be to have your child attempt to sit in a chair without moving. The parent times how long the child can do this. Repeated practice over several weeks will show improvement. Through this activity, the neural connections between the brain and body are strengthened, providing improved self-control.

4. Crossword Puzzles and Picture Puzzles

It sounds simple, but these are great tools for kids with ADHD. Crossword puzzles improve attention for words and sequencing ability. Likewise, picture puzzles, in which your younger child has to look for things that are “wrong” in the picture or look for hard-to-find objects, also improve attention and concentration.

5. Memory and Concentration Games

Children’s games, such as Simon, are great ideas for improving memory and concentration. They are quick and fun.

Memory motivates the child to remember the location of picture squares, and Simon helps them memorize sequences of visual and auditory stimuli. Through repeated playing, brain circuits are exercised and challenged, which strengthens connections and thus improves function.

Also, there are countless free online games that also improve concentration or memory. You can find these games on sites such as PBS Kids, Fun Brain, and Mr. Nussbaum.

(Video) 6 Ways to Improve Attention Span in Children with ADHD

For older children and adolescents, check out the cognitive exercises provided by Lumosity.

6. Dancing Sequence Games

There are various versions to select from, depending on your child’s age and what he or she likes. These games can be played on various video game platforms, including Xbox, Wii, and others. You will also need to purchase the dance mat that goes with your system.

These games improve concentration, processing speed, planning, sequencing, and motor integration. As an added bonus, they can also be a good form of aerobic exercise.

7. Story Based Games

To play these games, all you need is a good story book and a good imagination. You can simply read a short story and give the child a pop quiz on the content. Or, you can read a paragraph or two from a story and then ask your child to come up with what they think might come next.

Provide guidance to keep the content connected to the original story. You can then add your take on what happens after your child says what he thinks happens next. If possible, keep trading back and forth and see what you end up with.

These games help with building working memory and concentration. They can also help in the development of logic and sense of humor.

8. Mazes

You can find mazes appropriate for the age of your child for free online. One site that has them is KrazyDad Mazes. Start off with easy ones and move forward. Keep track of speed and errors. Of course, don’t forget to praise improving scores.

Mazes are great for concentration, planning, sequencing, processing speed and visual-motor integration.

(Video) 9 GREAT TIPS to Improve CONCENTRATION for Kids | Kreative Leadership

9. Puzzle Games

Puzzle games are very good for kids with ADHD or learning disabilities because they help build that brain muscle we were talking about, as do all these exercises. There are maze games (like Perplexus) where players must maneuver a small marble around challenging barriers inside a transparent ball, for example. You can vary the challenges to provide a variety of games.

10. Paddle Ball

Did you ever play with one of these as a kid? I did as a child and a young teen and really enjoyed it. Basically, it’s a wooden paddle with a rubber ball attached to it with a rubber band. The equipment should easy to find at a toy store or drug store.

Best to start with bouncing the ball downward and when that is mastered, switch to bouncing it upward. Keep track of how long your child can keep the ball bouncing. Encourage increasing the amount of time. For older kids, you might want to talk about what it would take to set a record to motivate them.

Conclusion

As you do these brain exercises, work together with your child, serving as their coach. Encourage them, and track their progress as they improve. Working together is a win-win solution because it also strengthens the relationship you have with your child.

Go ahead and have some fun. Do the exercises along with your child. And who knows, you may find your brain will work a little faster and smarter, too!

These suggestions are provided as activities to supplement medical and/or psychological treatment provided under the guidance of a physician or psychologist. They will enhance the benefits of the treatment but will not on their own resolve severe symptoms for a child who has been accurately diagnosed with ADHD.

Related Content:
8 Tips for Parents of Children with ADHD
6 Brain Training Exercises for Children and Teens

FAQs

How can I improve my child memory and concentration power? ›

7 tips to increase concentration levels in kids
  1. DIVIDE A BIG TASK INTO SMALL TASKS. ...
  2. NUTRITION. ...
  3. GADGETS. ...
  4. INVOLVE CHILDREN IN BRAIN-STORMING GAMES. ...
  5. STUDY AT THE SAME HOUR EVERY DAY. ...
  6. ALLOW SOME TIME BEFORE BEGINNING A NEW TASK. ...
  7. ENOUGH SLEEP.
5 Jun 2022

How do ADHD students focus? ›

ADHD: Tips to Try
  1. Sit in the front of class to limit distractions.
  2. Turn off your phone when doing homework. ...
  3. Talk with your teacher about your ADHD. ...
  4. Use tools that help you stay organized. ...
  5. Get plenty of exercise. ...
  6. Take activity breaks. ...
  7. Learn to meditate. ...
  8. Pay attention to all the good things about you.

How do you stimulate a child with ADHD? ›

Games are a great way to help kids with ADHD focus their energy in a way that can help entertain them while building valuable skills. Memory games or word puzzles can be a good option for some kids or even an active game like musical chairs. Other fun activities to try include: Indoor scavenger hunt.

What helps concentration with ADHD? ›

Use a “daily focus list.” Write down your major priorities at the beginning of each day. This is a great way to block out annoying distractions and periodically refocus your attention.

Which exercise is best for concentration? ›

Here are 10 focus exercises you can do to improve your concentration abilities in the workplace and at home:
  • Meditate for five minutes. ...
  • Read a long book. ...
  • Exercise your body. ...
  • Practice active listening. ...
  • Try a counting game. ...
  • Memorize patterns. ...
  • Complete a crossword puzzle. ...
  • Visualize an object.
25 May 2021

What vitamins help kids focus? ›

What vitamins help kids focus? Zinc, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and magnesium are particularly helpful for focus and attention. Some studies have shown that taking zinc supplements can help reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity for children with ADHD.

How can kids sharpen their brain memory? ›

Use these 11 exercises and tips to help boost your child's memory power.
  1. Encourage questions.
  2. Create rhymes and songs.
  3. Make learning exciting.
  4. Encourage active learning.
  5. Use visual aides.
  6. Have your child make his or her own examples.
  7. Create mind maps.
  8. Make a list of keywords for an idea or subject.
30 Oct 2017

How can I stimulate my child's mind? ›

How to Encourage a Child's Brain Development
  1. Play. Play is a wonderful way to help a baby or toddler's brain develop. Play might be a game, talking or singing to actively engage your child's brain. ...
  2. Comfort. Babies can feel stress. ...
  3. Read. Reading is one of the best ways to promote a child's brain development.

What games are good for ADHD kids? ›

The Best Board Games for Kids with ADHD (Pandemic Edition)
  • 1 of 11. Best Board Games for Elementary Age Kids with ADHD. ...
  • 2 of 11. Rory's Story Cubes. ...
  • 3 of 11. Ice Cool. ...
  • 4 of 11. Animal Upon Animal. ...
  • 5 of 11. Catan Junior. ...
  • 6 of 11. The Magic Labyrinth. ...
  • 7 of 11. Pitch Car. ...
  • 8 of 11. My First Carcassonne.
30 Dec 2021

What games help with ADHD? ›

Top Brain Games for ADHD and Learning Disorders
  • Card Games. Many families enjoy classic card games, such as Euchre and cribbage. ...
  • Simon Says. Simon Says is a classic, and has long been recommended for children with ADHD. ...
  • Tabletop Games.

What naturally helps concentration? ›

  1. Train your brain. Playing certain types of games can help you get better at concentrating. ...
  2. Get your game on. Brain games may not be the only type of game that can help improve concentration. ...
  3. Improve sleep. ...
  4. Make time for exercise. ...
  5. Spend time in nature. ...
  6. Give meditation a try. ...
  7. Take a break. ...
  8. Listen to music.
7 Aug 2019

How do you increase super concentration? ›

There's no one answer for how to improve focus, but the following tips can help.
  1. Eliminate distractions. ...
  2. Reduce multitasking. ...
  3. Practice mindfulness and meditation. ...
  4. Get more sleep. ...
  5. Choose to focus on the moment. ...
  6. Take a short break. ...
  7. Connect with nature. ...
  8. Train your brain.
3 Feb 2021

How can I improve my mental clarity and focus? ›

How to promote mental clarity
  1. Get enough quality sleep. How much sleep you get is directly proportional to how much energy you will have throughout the day. ...
  2. Manage your stress. ...
  3. Practice mindfulness. ...
  4. Find a work-life balance. ...
  5. Practice self-care. ...
  6. Move your body. ...
  7. Maintain a healthy diet. ...
  8. Ask for help.
29 Nov 2021

How can I increase my concentration in 5 minutes? ›

11 Strategies to Find Your Focus in 5 Minutes or Less
  1. Switch up your surroundings. “Sometimes, a change of venue does the job. ...
  2. Try a 3-in-3 meditation. ...
  3. Turn on your favorite tune. ...
  4. Remap your priorities. ...
  5. Connect with a thing, person, or pet. ...
  6. Look to your kids as motivation. ...
  7. Get away from technology. ...
  8. Take a breath of fresh air.
18 Sept 2019

What causes lack of focus and concentration? ›

Declining focus also could result from lifestyle issues that should be addressed, such as stress, fatigue, poor sleep, dehydration, an unhealthy diet, or sedentary behavior. For regular age-related decline in executive function, you can take steps to improve your ability to concentrate.

What foods are not good for ADHD? ›

Foods to Avoid With ADHD
  • Candy.
  • Corn syrup.
  • Honey.
  • Sugar.
  • Products made from white flour.
  • White rice.
  • Potatoes without the skins.
14 Jun 2021

What vitamins do ADHD kids lack? ›

Although there is limited evidence to support treating ADHD with mineral/vitamin supplements, research does exist showing that patients with ADHD may have reduced levels of vitamin D, zinc, ferritin, and magnesium.

What deficiency causes ADHD? ›

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by varying severity in attention deficit and hyperactivity. Studies have shown deficiencies in the serum level of magnesium and vitamin D in people with ADHD.

How can I make my mind sharp and intelligent for kids? ›

7 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Sharpen Their Memory
  1. Take the stress out of learning. ...
  2. Play memory games. ...
  3. Encourage reading and talk about books. ...
  4. Ask them to visualize stories. ...
  5. Talk about favorite memories. ...
  6. Help them make connections. ...
  7. Play cards.
22 Nov 2016

Which food is good for children's brain? ›

These 7 foods can help kids stay sharp and affect how their brains develop well into the future.
  • Eggs. The protein and nutrients in eggs help kids concentrate, says Los Angeles-based chef Beth Saltz, RD. ...
  • Greek Yogurt. ...
  • Greens. ...
  • Fish. ...
  • Nuts and Seeds. ...
  • Oatmeal. ...
  • Apples and Plums.

What are 5 things parents can do to promote good brain development? ›

The principles are:
  • Maximize love, manage stress. Babies pick up on stress, which means moms and dads have to take care of themselves, too. ...
  • Talk, sing and point. ...
  • Count, group and compare. ...
  • Explore through movement and play. ...
  • Read and discuss stories.
1 Oct 2018

What is play therapy for ADHD? ›

Play therapy — used to treat ADHD, trauma, or other childhood difficulties — allows kids to express themselves in a language all their own. Play is the “language of childhood.” Watch a child play, and you'll see her express a variety of emotions, acting out fanciful scenarios.

Do toys help ADHD? ›

Fidget toys for ADHD can provide much more than just a positive way for your child to release energy. Fidget toys have also been shown to effectively increase focus and attention. This means fidget toys can help in a classroom setting to actually increase alertness and focus.

What foods are good for a child with ADHD? ›

Foods rich in protein — lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products — may have beneficial effects on ADHD symptoms. Protein-rich foods are used by the brain to make neurotransmitters — chemicals that help brain cells talk with each other.

How do you entertain an ADHD brain? ›

This can include using a stress ball, doodling, taking notes (try doing so with a multi-colored pen), tapping a pen on your leg (so it doesn't make noise), or fiddling with a small stone. When heading to a boring meeting or lecture, have your fidget tools with you.

Is boredom good for ADHD? ›

Escaping or shaping boredom is, therefore, a critical skill for those with ADHD because their ability to sustain focus at work and at home is neurologically dependent on the stimulation of interest. Escape boredom by opting out of situations that don't fall into your Elements of Interest.

What type of therapy is used for ADHD in children? ›

Behavior therapy is an effective treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that can improve a child's behavior, self-control, and self-esteem. It is most effective in young children when it is delivered by parents.

What causes lack of concentration in a child? ›

a lack of sleep or a poor routine. a diet high in sugar and fat with no sustaining nutrition to assist concentration in the classroom. excessive screen-time, especially prior to going to bed. difficulties at home, such as a recent separation of parents or a family trauma.

What causes a child to forget easily? ›

There are many reasons kids are forgetful, including stress and lack of sleep. Being hungry can also have a big impact. But sometimes when kids have trouble remembering information, they may be struggling with a skill called working memory.

Which food is good for children's brain? ›

These 7 foods can help kids stay sharp and affect how their brains develop well into the future.
  • Eggs. The protein and nutrients in eggs help kids concentrate, says Los Angeles-based chef Beth Saltz, RD. ...
  • Greek Yogurt. ...
  • Greens. ...
  • Fish. ...
  • Nuts and Seeds. ...
  • Oatmeal. ...
  • Apples and Plums.

How do you fix poor concentration? ›

There's no one answer for how to improve focus, but the following tips can help.
  1. Eliminate distractions. ...
  2. Reduce multitasking. ...
  3. Practice mindfulness and meditation. ...
  4. Get more sleep. ...
  5. Choose to focus on the moment. ...
  6. Take a short break. ...
  7. Connect with nature. ...
  8. Train your brain.
3 Feb 2021

How do you fix lack of concentration? ›

  1. Train your brain. Playing certain types of games can help you get better at concentrating. ...
  2. Get your game on. Brain games may not be the only type of game that can help improve concentration. ...
  3. Improve sleep. ...
  4. Make time for exercise. ...
  5. Spend time in nature. ...
  6. Give meditation a try. ...
  7. Take a break. ...
  8. Listen to music.
7 Aug 2019

What do ADHD brains lack? ›

ADHD brains have low levels of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is linked arm-in-arm with dopamine. Dopamine is the thing that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure center. The ADHD brain has impaired activity in four functional regions of the brain.

Can ADHD kids watch TV? ›

The study revealed that each hour of television watched per day at ages 1-3 increases the risk of attention problems, such as ADHD, by almost 10 percent at age 7.

How do you test a child's working memory? ›

A digit span test may be used to check your child's working memory with numbers. Your child will be given about 3 numbers to memorize. After a few minutes, he or she will be asked to repeat the numbers. A number will be added, and the test repeated until your child can no longer recall the numbers correctly.

How do you restore a child's memory? ›

Read an old letter, personal journal, or newspaper article. Listen to an old song that you or someone in your family loved. Cook a meal your mom or dad used to make for you. Smell something that may jog your memory, like a book, pillow, perfume, or food.

Which fruit is good for brain? ›

Fruits. Certain fruits such as oranges, bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries, contain high amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps prevent brain cells from becoming damaged and supports overall brain health.

Which vitamin is good for brain development for kids? ›

Vitamin E supports developing cells. Vitamin E is also the main form found in the brains of babies. It is found naturally in the foods we eat. DHA supports brain development.

Which fruit is good for kids brain? ›

Brain Food: Berries

Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries. "In general, the more intense the color, the more nutrition in the berries," Krieger says. Berries boast high levels of antioxidants, especially vitamin C, which may help prevent cancer.

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