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How to get your teenager to focus

Procrastination, distraction and a lack of motivation are all things that might affect your teenager when it comes to their schoolwork. So how do you get them motivated and focused?

Concentration and sustaining focus isn’t something that comes naturally to every kid. Whilst your child might be intelligent and interested in schoolwork, chances are they still might struggle to focus on schoolwork, especially in the lead up to exams.

Here’s how you can help your teenager focus:

Get organised

Instilling good organisational skills is one of the first steps in helping your child to focus and succeed at school. Time management, seeing tasks through to the end and staying focused are rarely taught in school and your teen may benefit from your input here.

Providing a daily planner and showing your kid how to keep track of what they’ve got on their ‘to-do’ list can help them work through tasks in a more methodical and focused manner.

Equally making sure you’re on top of when their assignments are due, dates of exams and revision schedules can allow you to keep an eye on their progress and make sure that they’re keeping on top of their workload.

Find some space

It’s all well and good asking your teenage to buckle down and focus on their revision or schoolwork however if they’re sat at the kitchen table surrounded by noise and distraction they’re unlikely to be able to concentrate. Equally, sprawling out on their bedroom floor or sitting hunched on their bed are not ideal environments for producing their best work. Providing them with a workspace or desk in a quiet room eliminates distractions and lets them focus on the task at hand.

READ MORE: How to tell if your adult child has a mental health issue

Get involved with school

“You don’t understand!”

Hands up if you’ve heard this from your teenager at least once this week? It’s easy for your teen to feel like everyone is on their case and that you just don’t understand the pressures they are under at school. With that in mind, help your kid feel supported in their academic efforts. If you feel that your child is struggling at school, why not request a meeting with their teacher and sit down together (that includes your kid!) to work out how to make changes that could help and offer your joint support to your child. This will reinforce the idea that you are all on the same side and help your teen feel more motivated and able to tackle the challenges ahead.

Make sure they get plenty of sleep

Research has shown that a teenagers needs between 9 and 10 hours of sleep every night. However most adolescents are only getting 7-8 hours. Concentration difficulties are one of the main effects of sleep deprivation so it’s important to ensure that your teenager is getting that all important shut eye.

Step away from social media

Social media is one of the biggest distractions you’ll come up against whilst trying to get your teenager to focus on their schoolwork. With Facebook, Instagram, snapchat and more right at their fingertips there is constant temptation to ‘take a break’ from work and scroll their feeds instead.

One option is to remove their phones from their workspace to allow them to focus entirely on the task at hand. However, it might be more effective to discuss the issue with your child and help them understand how distracting social media can be. Try scheduling ‘social media breaks’ rather than banning social media entirely – your teen will be more likely to focus if they know they have a break coming up!

READ MORE: Is your teenager drinking too much?

Get some fresh air

If your teenager has been cooped up all day and is struggling to focus, put down the books and get outside. Taking a walk or going for a run can help clear the cobwebs and renew their focus and energy for getting back to the books later on.

Be reasonable

You want your child to succeed, that’s totally normal. However, try to have realistic expectations of what your child can achieve. It’s not reasonable to expect your teenager to revise all day and stay focused and motivated. It is much more reasonable to ask your child to dedicate two good hours to exam prep and then give them the time off that they deserve.

Whilst it’s pretty normal for your teenager to struggle to concentrate from time to time, if you notice that your child persistently has trouble focusing on a task, doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to directly or displays behavioural difficulties on a regular basis it might be worth consulting your doctor to see if there is something else at play here.

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