In the old days, it was expected that kids would know to be seen and not heard.
Developmental science has come a long way since then, and these days we understand that the concepts of discipline and focus actually take time to learn, and that the perceived lack of focus in younger kids can be physical, intellectual, emotional, or social expressions of challenges they are facing.
Let’s look at some of the challenges that our younger ninjas may be facing. If we can better understand the challenges, we can better help the kids grow past them.
Physically, kids’ bodies are growing, and their bodies often don’t have the strength necessary to hold them still for very long. Imagine if you had to sit still while holding a very heavy weight on top of your head. You’d wiggle too
Intellectually, kids are natural scientists. They want to observe, interact, extrapolate, and experiment.
Imagine seeing so many cool things all at once, then not being allowed to acknowledge them because you are supposed to be focusing… kind of how we try to avoid the leftover Halloween peanut butter cups hiding in the cabinet so we can stay on our diet. How’s that going for you, by the way?
Emotionally, kids sometimes struggle with labeling and regulating their feelings. This causes their emotions to take charge while leaving the rational thought processes that would allow them to stay focused out of the equation.
We all have those grumpy days where we just can’t focus at work.
A great book that covers the science behind this in an understandable and easily applicable way is The Whole-Brain Child by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.
Socially, kids are very aware of their peers, but they don’t always have the experience necessary to understand what they see.
They wonder why Bobby gets a turn but they don’t, or why Suzy is wearing a different shirt today. They aren’t “not focusing.” Quite the opposite, they are trying very hard to discover their place in the social structure.
Their actions and vocalizations are simply their quest to gain answers and insight when they don’t understand. Most times, behaviors are just an attempt to communicate. It is up to us to facilitate that communication.
So can a young child focus?
Absolutely! It just might not manifest in a very adult way… but then… they aren’t just little adults!
To learn more about the powerful Skillz child development program that uses elements of martial arts training as the vehicle for growth, or to get your child started at our Patchogue location, click the button below:
SKILLZ OF PATCHOGUE
380 East Main St
Patchogue, NY 11772
Author: Michael A Evans
Michael is a 6th-degree black sash under his teacher, Moises Arocho, and has been training in martial arts since 1985. Michael has a degree in Massage Therapy from NY College of Health Professions. He is the co-owner of 4GK Martial Arts in Patchogue, NY, and of Skillz of Patchogue, which is a childhood development facility using martial arts and other movement modalities as the vehicle for kids’ growth and success.