How to Get Your Child’s Attention

As parents, we all deal with distractions in our children’s lives. Dr. Dehra Harris explains how to get your child’s attention when distractions are present.

Dr. Harris, a Pediatric Psychiatrist with Washington University at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, points out that there are many different factors competing for our children’s attention. As much as parents would like to think that they are the greatest factor, it’s rarely the case. For example, it can be especially difficult to get your child’s attention when they are busy playing with friends or using an electronic device.

Keep in mind: just because your child is not listening when distractions are present does not mean they have ADHD. When engaged in an activity, it’s very common for children to have difficulty changing gears and focusing on something else if the new focus is less stimulating.

To combat this, Dr. Harris suggests engaging two or three sensory systems when trying to get your child to listen. If you can’t get your kid to focus, try walking up to your child, touching them, and then speaking. Forcing your child to see you, feel you, and hear you simultaneously will engage their brain more than outside distractions.

If you’ve already tried engaging your child’s sensory systems and continue to experience problems with your child not listening, it may be time to speak with their pediatrician to see if there is something else going on.

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The St. Louis Children’s Hospital YouTube channel is intended as a reference and information source only. If you suspect you have a health problem, you should seek immediate care with the appropriate health care professionals. The information in this web site is not a substitute for professional care, and must not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. For help finding a doctor, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Answer Line may be of assistance at 314.454.KIDS (5437). The opinions expressed in these videos are those of the individual writers, not necessarily St. Louis Children’s Hospital or Washington University School of Medicine. BJC HealthCare and Washington University School of Medicine assume no liability for the information contained in this web site or for its use.

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