Support Group for Parents and Teachers

ODD Child Occupies All Of Mother's Time

Parent/Teacher Name = Mommy of a ODD/ADHD child... Comments/Questions = How do I balance my time that my 3 year old needs with house cleaning and personal care (which I don't have much time for). I have to attend to him 24-7. My husband works long hours so it is just me take care of him. Please help!

Answer =

Many parents with young kids can testify to the fact that it is hard to get anything accomplished with a three-year-old at their feet. A toddler requires nearly constant supervision, instant results to his every need and desire, and undivided attention whenever his little heart pleases.

The average attention span for a three-year-old is about 8 minutes. Unfortunately, this doesn't give nearly enough time for the parent to even begin to start on a task before the toddler is once again whining at her feet.

Tips to Increase a Youngster's Attention Span—

The first step to getting a youngster to focus for longer periods is through practice. One of the best ways to do this is through reading books to the youngster. Many kids will find it difficult to sit quietly through a story and each time they do so, their ability to focus if honed and developed.

One of the most crucial steps to increased attention span is to turn off the television. Young kids who spend too much time in front of the TV are more prone to ADHD and ADD once they are school aged. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for kids younger than 2. In many households this is difficult if not an impossibility, especially when there are older kids who have the TV turned on. It may be more realistic to advise limiting the amount of time spent in front of the television to under 2 hours a day.

Preparing Fun Activities for Busy Times—

One of the key strategies to success when trying to occupy a youngster is preparation. Instead of grabbing a piece of paper and some crayons, perhaps one could have a craft station set aside for the youngster. Have an area specifically designated to arts and crafts, organized in easily identifiable baskets or trays. This will ensure a quick "out" when the phone is ringing and an instant solution is needed.

Prepare different bins filled with items that the youngster finds interesting. Perhaps one could hold different stacking toys or even simple plastic containers and lids. Another could be filled with magazine pictures and scissors. This way when the parent is unable to stop her current task, she can pull out a bin in mere seconds and finish what she was doing.

Spending Quality Time—

Obviously one of the greatest needs a youngster has is love and attention. Often, they misbehave simply in an attempt to gain their parents' focus. Therefore, the most successful tool a parent or caregiver has is to sit down each day and interact with the youngster.

Instead of giving them an activity and walking away, parents could color with them; using the opportunity to teach them about shapes and colors. Sometimes it is as simple as getting down on the floor and playing with their favorite car or doll collection. Usually if a youngster receives even just twenty minutes of an adult’s time, she is content to play on her own for a while.

Entertaining a Toddler—

Toddlers have an uncanny ability to require all a parent has to offer them and it can be overwhelming. However, following simple steps to increase their attention span, be prepared, and spending one-on-one time with them each day can help develop kid's growing sense of independence, leaving parents with a little more precious time on their hands.

How long can your youngster pay attention to one activity?

This usually depends on their developmental age. If you have unrealistic expectations of your youngster's attention span, it can often lead to temper tantrums and other upsetting behavior. Keep in mind that whether or not your youngster likes the actual activity, or is sick, tired, or hungry can affect his/her attention span. Here are some guidelines to help you understand the typical lengths of attending behaviors in young kids:

• Ages 8 months - 15 months—Any new activity or event will distract your youngster, but they can usually attend for one minute or a little longer to a single toy or activity.

• Ages 16 months - 19 months—Your youngster might be restless, but is able to sustain attention to one structured activity for 2-3 minutes. Your youngster might not be able to tolerate verbal or visual interference.

• Ages 20 month - 24 months—Your youngster is still easily distracted by sounds, but can stay attentive to an activity either with or without an adult for 3-6 minutes.

• Age 25 - 36 months—Your youngster can generally pay attention to a toy or other activity for 5-8 minutes. In addition, he/she can shift attention from an adult speaking to him/her and then back to what he/she was doing if he/she is prompted to focus her attention.

• Ages 3 - 4 years—Your youngster can usually attend to an activity for 8-10 minutes, and then alternate his/her total attention between the adult talking to him/her and the activity he/she is doing independently.

*ODD Support Group for Parents/Teachers

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