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Tips to improve you preschooler’s attention skills

little girl playing house with her mom

Key points:
1. Incorporate your child’s interests or favorite toys to make activities fun and engaging.
2. Be mindful of your child’s developmental stage; attention spans for 3 to 4-year-olds are around 10-12 minutes.
3. Allow unstructured playtime to let your child wander and relax, aiding their attention skills.
4. Minimize distractions like background noise to help your child focus on tasks.


Following the cognitive developmental milestones proposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are some practical ideas to help your child develop their attention skills:

  • Make the activity fun. Since playing is intrinsically motivating for children, try and incorporate your child’s interest or their favorite toys into the task. That way, you can use play activities to foster your child’s attention skills, like recalling a story that features their favorite characters.
  • Don’t expect attention beyond your child’s developmental stage. Kids around 3 and 4 years old have an average of 10-12 minutes attention spans.
  • Make sure your child has plenty of time to wander and relax doing unstructured activities.
  • Decrease background distractions when trying to have your child focus on a task. Even small stimuli like having the TV playing on the background can be very distracting for a young kid.
  • Give praise for your child’s efforts and progress.
  • Tackle internal distractions like hunger or tiredness. If we find it almost impossible to power-through a meeting when having hunger pangs, kids are even more sensitive to hunger and sleep cues.
  • Avoid overstimulating them.
  • Try working together in building with blocks.
  • Make it interesting and new. You can encourage your little one to be interested in their surroundings by playing fun games of “I Spy”.
  • Have your child help you with simple tasks when cooking or baking.
  • Set musical or visual reminders of routines.
  • Give them your full attention.

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