March 8, 2011

Attention Span Disorder In Children

Posted in Category : Natural Cures

The amount of time you can concentrate or focus on a particular activity is your ‘attention span’. The attention span of a child varies with age, with two year olds having an attention span of about 7 minutes and older children about 20 minutes. Often having a short attention span is associated with attention span disorder such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hypersensitivity Disorder). While not all children with short attention spans have ADHD, it could be an indication of other problems such as poor home life, lack of encouragement, and other abusive problems.

Also, not all hyperactive children have an attention span problem. In the same way, children who are a little quieter than most others do not necessarily have a long attention span. How then do you find out whether your child has an attention span problem or not? In this article, we will discuss what the average attention span in children is, who are generally known to develop this problem and some simple ways to treat short attention span in children.

Average attention span in children

Attention span varies with age, which is the reason why you cannot expect a 3 year old to sit still for an hour, whereas you can expect a 10 year old to do so. If your child is able to keep interested in an activity or toy for as long as it is recommended for his or her age group, then you do not have a problem. Too short an attention span, on the other hand, may be an indication of hyperactivity and other low attention span disorders. Also, it is common for boys to have a shorter attention span than girls. This is attributed to the lower levels of serotonin and oxytocin in the brain. So, if your son is not able to sit still, while your daughter can, it does not mean that he has a problem; it may simply be a gender difference.

Below is the average attention span for various age groups:

  • 2 year old – 7 minutes
  • 3 year old – 9 minutes
  • 4 year old – 12 minutes
  • 5 year old – 14 minutes
  • Older children – 20 minutes
  • Adults – between 20 and 40 minutes

Reasons for short attention span

Listed below are some of the reasons for short attention span.

  • Genetic: Short attention span may be a hereditary trait, passed down in families.

  • Slow Neurological Development: Maternal drinking and low lead exposure can result in developmental damages that cause hyperactivity.
  • Psychological Factors: An emotionally insecure child growing up in abusive environment can have this problem. If the child is constantly reprimanded and discouraged by parents and family members, then he tends to get distracted and finds it difficult to keep focused.
  • Malfunction in the brain
  • Environmental factors

At-home diagnostic exercise

Ask your child to perform this simple task, to find out if he does have an attention deficit disorder. Ask your child, ‘knock once on that door, then open the window, and then bring me that pencil.’ If your child is able to complete these activities, it usually indicates that there is no problem with attention. However, if you feel that there is a problem, check with a child specialist as they will help put your mind to rest.


  • Encourage children: Give your child a task to do, such as learning a new rhyme. Once he/she has mastered the rhyme, praise him. A child who believes that he/she can do things will want to focus on improving himself and this will reduce the impulsive hyperactivity.
  • Challenge them, but do not put them down: An easy way to do this is to find out what they are good at and encourage them. They will soon start believing in themselves, resulting in better security as well as attention span.
  • Avoid television: Studies indicate that exposing a child (2 years old and below) to television shortens his/her attention span. Reducing television time may be the key to increase attention span and reduce hyperactivity.
  • Helping the child learn to focus by finishing small projects at a time can also help increase attention span.