How To Increase Your Four-Year-Old's Attention Span

Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) seems to be running rampant, tearing the limbs off Barbie dolls and smashing its toy cars against the wall, within our pre-school population these days.

Doctors, psychologists and educators are so darn quick to recommend medications for this problem. But any savvy mother can calm her four-year-old and increase his attention span the natural way, without spending her hard-earned pennies from her part-time job at Hooters to buy Ritalin for her child.

First, just a few dietary changes will help your little one relax and keep focused on his daily pre-school tasks. But here’s where you really need to be a parent, for godssakes. Even if your child insists he needs more to jumpstart his day, limit his morning mugs of coffee to two.

Since broccoli is known for its calming effects, add some to his bowl of Sugar Blast Cereal each morning. Chop the vegetable into very small pieces and your four-year-old probably won’t even notice it’s in there, especially if his cereal is an artificially colourful one. You can also slice open the Twinkie you give him for lunch and sprinkle a bit of all-natural dried valerian or pretty California poppy over the white cream. Then just close up that pastry again and your child’s afternoon in the classroom will be a tranquil one. (Be careful not to use too much dried herb. Side effects can include cramping and mild hallucinations.)

In addition, regular and consistent bedtimes are a must for any child to maintain an unperturbed demeanour. In bed by midnight may seem a bit harsh, but your child’s teacher and playmates will thank you for it!<

Now that your pre-schooler has been soothed without nasty drugs, he’s ready for some special activities and brain exercises that will enhance his ability to concentrate. Here are some you can try:

1)        At home – if you have a weekly cleaner, take your child aside while she’s there one afternoon and whisper to him that the cleaner is actually his real mother, whilst you are just watching him for her temporarily. Explain to your four-year-old that this is why she’s there every week. The moment his “real mother” sees him misbehaving, she’ll take him back to his “real house,” where she’ll teach him better manners. This exercise will increase your child’s strategic thinking skills. If he’s reasonably bright, you’ll immediately see the thoughts processing in his brain by the expression on his face. You’ll know this exercise is working for sure by his lengthy focus on the cleaner and when he formulates questions like this one, “Why don’t I look like her?” Tell him it’s because he looks his real father, whom he hasn’t met yet. This will give him even more opportunity to exercise his reasoning abilities.

2)        At the baker’s – a simple trip to purchase fresh bread can be an exercise in attentiveness for your little tyke. Lean down to him and whisper, “Can you keep a secret?” When he says “yes,” point to the baker’s chocolate-stained white apron and whisper that those brown stains are dried blood. Tell him that the baker keeps an alligator pit in the back room and that sometimes he lures children back there for the alligators to eat, by offering the children a free biscuit. Tell him to watch the baker very carefully and see if he smiles at any of the children in his shop. His smile means he’s happy that he’s picked out a new, tasty child for his pet alligators to have for lunch. After your child absorbs this information, have him utilise his reasoning aptitudes by asking him to guess which child he thinks the baker will pick next.

3)        Your place of worship is another venue to balance out any lack your pre-schooler might have in attention span. It doesn’t matter what faith that is. In every organised religion, there are gory parts and the crucial thing is to explain each and every one of those disgusting details to your little one. The crucifixion of Christ, the oppression of the Jews, the massacre of the Muslims, are all bloody and excruciating tales. The more you embellish the gruesome side of your beliefs, the more riveted your child will be. My experience has been that this sort of talk can fixate children for hours. He’ll get plenty of practice sitting still and paying attention as you relate accounts like these. You can even tell these tales at home, in lieu of a bedtime story. (But, remember – in bed and fast asleep by midnight.)

Utilising these techniques will eliminate your child’s need for drug therapy, for sure.

(photo above- ‘Dr’. Davis takes one of her young charges on a riveting expedition, guaranteed to keep children focused and paying attention!)

(Originally published in the UK’s Happy Woman Magazine at:

Last 5 posts by Patricia Volonakis Davis

Last 5 posts by Patricia Volonakis Davis