In a world where we are constantly being asked, children have sometimes
hard to concentrate. The family is the first place to cultivate their attention to foster their concentration.

" NOTou notsounds of hours doing homework, learning a lesson. He does not focus. I let him work but when I come back he does something else. I am getting angry. He does not listen, he does not keep up, " Despairs Julia, mother of an 11 year old boy. And she is far from the only one. Many parents feel concerned about the problem. The teachers, too, complain about the lack of concentration of students, including in higher education …

For the little ones, many have a hard time living in the moment, says Élisabeth Jouanne, kindergarten teacher: "Some children come to school with the anxieties of their parents. Instead of being here, here and now, they anticipate. After the crying of the separation, they ask if they will stay in the canteen, snack, leisure center … This projection generates stress, agitation, lack of attention and concentration, which are sources of dispersion, even stall. "

One of the first causes of consultation

That's why Élisabeth Jouanne, who is also a yoga teacher, has developed specific yoga exercises for children. (read below). Postures, stretching, ventral breathing, self-massage are practiced in the form of games, at different times of the day. "These physical exercises allow students to evacuate their excess energy, to ventilate their minds. They are then ready to enter the apprenticeships. And above all, they find pleasure, curiosity, which improves their concentration »says the teacher, while welcoming that some of them reproduce the movements at home.

According to the clinical psychologist Jeanne Siaud-Facchin, the agitation of the child, "These difficulties of attention and concentration have become in the last ten years the leading causes of consultation in the psychology of children and adolescents". In extreme cases, we talk about attention deficit disorder (ADHD), with or without hyperactivity. These behavioral disorders, which tend to be overdiagnosed among the youngest, are questioned by some specialists (read below).

Read also: Thanks to yoga, good children in their body

Attention difficulties also affect parents

When it comes to children, attention difficulties most often affect parents as well. "Children, teenagers and adults can not sit down, stop, center. The external solicitations, more and more numerous, in the street and on the screens, cause an overload of distractions which exhausts the attentional capacities »says the psychologist.

The family cocoon is nibbled by hyperconnection, zapping, the pressure of time. Which parent has never heard of his child: " I do not have time " ? No time to listen to you, to be there for you, to hear your needs?

Stress is the biggest enemy of attention

However, for Jeanne Siaud-Facchin, the biggest enemy of attention is stress. "By saturating the available space in the brain, it prevents learning. Whoever feels stressed or anxious lacks self-confidence, afraid not to do it. " In a family, the phenomenon can be contagious. "There is an effect of communicating vessels between parents and children: the stress is maintained and snowballs. Hence the need to appease the child and his entourage. "

It's not enough to say " concentrate "to his child for him to get there. We must strive to create a free space in his head, a quiet place in itself where he can land, "Like an island in the middle of the storm" . We can practice with him to focus on his feelings. For example, sitting, eyes closed, hands on the desk, they are tight to feel the tension, the difference in temperature. We relax, we feel and we start again two or three times.

Another exercise: standing, feet well rooted, it focuses on breathing through the abdomen. "The more we train to be attentive, present to ourselves, the less distractions come to encroach on our island, the more we manage to put stress at a distance, to calm down, to consolidate our attention abilities ", assures Jeanne Siaud-Facchin, who offers exercises based on mindfulness meditation, to practice as a family.

To control his mind by involving his body

Slow down, listen to your feelings, focus on what you feel: it is through the body that we can train to be attentive. "To help a child find the path of concentration, it must be brought back to his senses,"Florence Vertanessian abounds. For this sophrologist, concentration is the art of controlling one's mind by involving one's body.

To listen, to look at the landscape, to feel the smell of a cake, to touch the leaf of a tree: by connecting to his body and the world around him, the child is paying more and more attention finely.

At the table, with your eyes closed, encouraging him to remember a pleasant moment or imagine the next vacation, it's another way of nurturing his attention. Knowing how to ask one's mind will reflect on one's ability to focus on a coloring or math exercise.

Educate the attention

Educating attention is the best way to prepare your child for concentration. The family is the first place of joint and collective attention that helps the child to develop: awakening games, creative activities regularly done together, such as making a recipe, walking in the forest, reading a story, and also, more simply, meet for dinner around the table.

However, according to Françoise Guillaume, specialist in active pedagogies, these moments of attention have decreased. Even meals, now more individualized, taken at different times, sometimes in the form of a TV set.

Jacques de Coulon, philosopher of attention

A "digital curfew"

The screens, precisely, exert such a fascination on the children that one speaks, not of attention, but of "capture". As for teenagers, it is important to know how to listen to them. And above all, insists this specialist, "To feel legitimate to ask them a frame, such as a limited screen time or mobile phone lying out of the room, at night" . The "digital curfew" is a measure intended to preserve the quality of their sleep, necessary for their ability to concentrate.

At the age when you like to surf and zap, it is sometimes difficult to focus your attention in depth. Françoise Guillaume proposes to mobilize teens with a short-term objective, such as, for example, making or repairing an object, alone or with others. Helping them resist distraction is also a matter of imagination!


Attention disorders

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by inattention, difficulty concentrating, marked impulsivity and incessant agitation.

There is an increase in the number of children diagnosed with ADHD and over-prescription of drugs such as Ritalin. Specialists worry about it like the psychiatrist Patrick Landman, who proposes solutions to demedicalize these disorders (1).

Children's attention varies according to age, activity and environment. For
a child of 5-6 years, the average attention span is 15 to 20 minutes. At 7-8 years old, between
20 and 30 minutes. At 9-10 years, 25 to 35 minutes. At 11-12 years old, 30 to 40 minutes.


For adults

Educate the attention, Françoise Guillaume, ESF Human Sciences, 2018, € 14. A very accessible book that poses the issues of the deficit of attention and invites everyone to mobilize to protect it.

To exercise with your family

Everything is there, right there. Mindfulness meditation for children and teens (with CD), by Jeanne Siaud-Facchin, Odile Jacob, 2014, € 25.90.

100% yoga of the little ones, from Elisabeth Jouanne, Bayard editions, 2015, 16,90 €. Chains, exercises of postures, automassages, relaxations adapted to the children.

Small apple, published by Bayard for ages 3 to 7. With, in each issue, the heading "Your yoga break", 5,95 €.

I boost my concentration, from Florence Vertanessian. For teenagers and adults, Jouvence, 9,90 €.

For teachers

The Yoga of the little ones, Bayard Education, educational briefcase for cycles 1 and 2. Yoga adapted for children in 16 postures related to the animal or plant world. These fun exercises bring them relaxation, concentration and the pleasure of learning.

atole (Attentive at school), training program of the attention having vocation to be diffused in all the schools. We can have a glimpse of it in the documentary, The Brain at the time of hyperconnection (available on YouTube).

And also

12 tools to capture the attention of children. For use by teachers and parents,from Marie Poulhalec, Jouvence, € 4.95.

France Lebreton