Life Skills – How to Teach Kids Focus

In this post we will discuss how to teach kids focus. We live in a world filled with distractions.  Television, internet, cell phones, apps, games, tablets, and the list can go on and on.  When was the last time you just did one thing at a time?  

You can’t be focused when you multi-task

As adults we are trained that being a multi-tasker is an essential skill.  However, we try to teach our kids that they need to focus.  Once we become adults do, we magically have the ability to apply focus to many things at once?

While as adults we certainly have much more on our plates, we still need to focus.  Helping kids learn focus can be as simple as being a good example.  Put down the cell phone.  Turn off the television.  If you are spending time with your kids, do just that.  Don’t try to answer emails while doing it.

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Learning the ability to focus will serve kids well in their futures.  Kids who can focus are more successful in academics, sports, music, and relationships.  It is an essential skill needed to be successful in life.

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Teach kids focus will help them  be more successful later in life
Teach kids focus will help them be more successful later in life

Let’s apply the process to focus.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Focus means “The ability to concentrate your efforts on one thing.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Focus your eyes: in order to focus on something, you must look at it.  Don’t let your eyes wander or look down at the ground.  If someone is speaking, look them in the eyes.
    • Focus your mind: in order to focus on something, you must be thinking about it.  If someone is speaking, actively think about what they are saying.  Don’t think about what you want to say.  Don’t think about video games or something else you plan on doing later in the day.
    • Focus your body: in order to remain focused, you must have a still body.  Sit or stand with good, attentive posture.  Don’t fidget with your hands and feet.  Don’t play with objects that may be in front of you.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of focus in karate: the instructor is telling you how to do a complex technique.  While he is explaining, you are thinking about the birthday party you are going to tomorrow.  You now have to do the technique with your partner.  However, you were not focused and don’t know all the important instructions regarding how to be safe while doing it.  You try to do the technique and end up injuring your partner on accident.
    • Example of focus in life: many people try to do other things while driving like texting, phone calls, and playing music.  This is a major source of car accidents that seriously injure many people.  It is important while driving to focus only on that task.
    • Example of focus at school:  at the end of the school day, your teacher tells you that there will be a test tomorrow and gives you details on what to study.  You were talking to your friend in the desk next to you and did not hear the teacher.  The next day you and your friend both fail the test and get in trouble with the teacher and with their parents when they get home.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to have focus?  If you can’t focus on something, you will never learn.  If someone is telling you something and you are not focused you might miss important details.  You must focus on everything you do in order to be successful in life.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
Limit distractions like television and video games when trying to focus
Limit distractions like television and video games when trying to focus

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

Stay tuned for my next post which will be on how to teach kids confidence.

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