How Can I Help My Child To Focus?

It is not uncommon to hear parents ask us how to help their child improve his or her focus. There's no one magic sliver bullet for this, as there are many factors to consider.

But what we can tell you is that giving them structure tends to help. Having a specific schedule of activities (they don't necessarily need to be too complicated), but just a schedule and adhering to it tends to help. 

We recommend taking some time and doing structured activities with them, such as building something, practicing Kung-Fu moves together with a designated amount of repetitions, or reading to each other.

It takes more effort and time, but you are instilling a sense of orientation towards a goal. And when that becomes the culture of your household, it does tend to rub off on the child.

A couple of cautionary notes. It could very well be that your child has a neurological condition that inhibits his or her ability to focus. If you have suspicions, by all means, get your child evaluated. Not to say a structured environment won't help, it probably will, but there may be deeper issues that need to be dealt with.

Another cautionary note is to keep as cool and as positive as possible when creating a highly structured world. If you keep yelling at them, and/or berating them for losing focus and not adhering to the structured task at hand, then resentment will form. Instead, tell them how much you love seeing them do xyz. 

Sometimes you might get some resistance and attitude. Again, try your best to keep your cool and be positive, and talk to them about how to express their frustration without being too negative. Maybe it is something you can work a compromise with. Or, maybe it is a non-negotiable, that you acknowledge their feelings, but it is extremely important to you that they do xyz. Use bribery rewards sparingly. 

An over reliance on rewards has them focusing just long enough to get the prize, but then it's all over after that. They might just do the bare minimum, just to get the reward. So, like I said, use rewards sparingly. 

In another post, I'll talk about strategic games you can play with your child to help them prepare for more structured activities like going to our Kids Kung-Fu class! =)

A Yard is Hard, An Inch is a Cinch

Whenever we'd like to achieve something, either for ourselves, or our children, it is important to set goals. 

The problem is, often times the goals are either too over-reaching, or too vague. When we have goals that are too over-reaching, we often set ourselves up for disappointment. An example of this is trying to make a basket from half court, without even trying to make a basket from up close! When we have goals that are too vague, then, we end up with vague results. An example of this is saying you want to be good at Kung-Fu. Well, what does that mean, exactly? What does that look like? 

The solution is simple:
Make it specific, make it simple, and make a lot of them!

It's a lot easier to reach a smaller, simpler goal. It is specific, and within grasp. After you achieve that goal, make the next goal to build on top of that. The key is to make them small and achievable so that you feel success! It is very important that you feel success, and keep building on those successes! In the world of Behaviorist Psychology, this is referred to as the "Law of Successive Approximations".

This is why we have all the different belt colors in martial arts! 

Dr. BJ Fogg, a professor of Experimental Psychology at Stanford University, said to have "mini celebrations" for these mini victories! He said that it is very important that you reward yourself for any achievement that you make towards developing more productive habits towards your end goal. These mini celebration can be as simple as doing a little fist pump and saying, "YES! I DID IT!" And then move into the next goal.

Anything is achievable when you break it into small pieces. Too much at one time can lead to disappointment. Goals that are vague don't allow for a clear path towards what you want.

At Austin Kung-Fu Academy, we are all about everyone feeling those mini victories, on their path to the big one!