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Concentration Building Techniques for Children with ADHD

written by: Michelle Morgan • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 5/23/2011

A child with ADHD may never be able to focus in the same way as other children, but thankfully there are several concentration techniques that can be used to help.

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    Concentrating is Difficult

    Children with ADHD and concentration issues find it difficult to focus on the various tasks they are required to perform each day. They require greater incentives to help them to concentrate, and more attention must be paid in helping them to focus.

    In 2011, researchers at the University of Nottingham discovered that while most people who are focused on a task can suppress the Default Mode Network (DMN) - the part of the brain that causes daydreams - the DMN in children with ADHD is insufficiently suppressed, making it harder to concentrate.

    A child with ADHD may require medication to help with focus and concentration, but this can be complimented with a variety of helpful concentration techniques, including yoga, and relaxation exercises.

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    Tibetan Singing Bowl

    Concentration techniques for children with ADHD need not be complicated. A singing bowl and relaxation book. A simple way of regaining a child's concentration once his or her mind has wandered, is with the use of a Tibetan Singing Bowl. This instrument gives off vibrations which seem to bring the child 'back', and in seven years of teaching yoga, I have yet to find a child who is not fascinated with it. All you have to do to 'play' the bowl is run the wooden stick around the outside edge. This will give off a humming sound which is not easy to ignore. You can also 'chime' the bowl by hitting the side with the wooden stick.

    The playing of the Singing Bowl can also be used as a reward when a child has been particularly attentive or has concentrated during class, homework etc. Children love playing the bowl and I have found it to be a real incentive with children of all ages.

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    Yoga

    Yoga has long-since been classed as a good technique for relaxation, but some of the positions are particularly good for concentration too.

    Any posture that requires the child to balance is very good because it focuses the mind on staying still in the position. A very good Tree pose. posture for concentration is:

    Tree

    The child stands with one leg 'rooted' to the floor. The other foot is placed against the 'rooted' leg. (Try to encourage the child to place it against the ankle, calf or thigh, but not the knee as this could become painful). The arms can be held out at the sides of the body, or hands together at the chest or if the child is particularly confident, above the head. The ADHD child will most probably complain of being unable to balance and may get frustrated if their body wobbles. However, there are some simple techniques which can help, such as focusing the eyes on something on the wall that isn't moving, such as a poster, a book shelf, a pattern etc. Another alternative is to stand in front of the child, holding up one finger to the child's eye level. Ask him or her to focus on the finger, and you must stay as still as possible so that the child can focus successfully.

    It is extremely important to congratulate the child if the position has been held for a few moments, and you can also offer a reward such as a turn on the singing bowl. This will encourage confidence and a general feeling of well-being. Over time, children should be able to hold the position for longer.

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    Relaxation/Meditation

    Relaxation can be very beneficial. 

    A great number of schools are introducing relaxation techniques into their curriculum, and it is easy to see why. Relaxation and meditation can aid all children but for the child with ADHD it can be a particularly useful concentration technique.

    Meditation comes in many forms but some of the best ones to use with ADHD children are guided and sitting meditations:

    GUIDED MEDITATION

    Guided meditation is where the child is encouraged to close their eyes and focus on the instructions being read by the teacher or parent. An example of this would be 'Close your eyes, be very still and imagine you are walking through a bright, sunny meadow. You see a tree, and hear the birds cheeping happily...' The meditation can continue in this way for a number of minutes until in the end the child is encouraged to open their eyes and sit back up.

    You can make up these simple instructions as you go along, or if you feel you need more help, there are some terrific resources such as books and CDs published by UK companies 'Relax Kids' and 'Calm for Kids'.

    A child with ADHD may find it difficult to focus on the meditation at first; in which case the relaxation will need to be edited for those children who become bored and fidgety during the exercise. However, in time and through perseverance it can become something they look forward to doing, and meditations can be extended.

    SITTING MEDITATION

    This involves the child sitting cross-legged, preferably with their eyes closed. Using a singing bowl or chimes, encourage the child to remain quiet when they hear the first sound, and then open their eyes when they hear the second. You can start with a small pause between sounding the sounds, such as 20 seconds, and eventually extend to a minute or more, depending on the child. If the child sits quietly during the whole exercise, reward him or her with taking a turn on the singing bowl.

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    References

    The Times of India - 'Why Kids with ADHD Can't Concentrate'

    Relax Kids - www.RelaxKids.com

    Calm For Kids - www.CalmForKids.com

    Images by Author; posed by model.