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ADHD: Top 3 Solutions for the Easily Distractible Part 2

Updated on April 19, 2017
TV captures attention using  the orienting reflex
TV captures attention using the orienting reflex
Peek-a-boo
Peek-a-boo
Parent-child interaction is very valuable in early child development
Parent-child interaction is very valuable in early child development

Solution Two: Stop Destroying Attention Span

My friend, Jane has a little girl, Hillary. Jane is a single mom in a typical American household. The TV comes on early in the day and remains on as long as anyone is home. What surprised Jane was that even as a baby, Hillary, was fascinated by the TV. What could be so interesting to one so young? Surely, it couldn't be the news or the ball game.

No, it isn't. Over the years the motion picture industry has noticed that people pay more attention when they change camera point of view. This stimulates the orienting reflex (sometimes called the - What's that! reflex). The orienting reflex works to keep us alert whenever something new enters our environment. Hillary simply can't look away.

Most parents stimulate their baby's orienting reflex by playing peek-a-boo, which introduces your smiling face or whatever you are using to block your face, much to their baby's delight. What is the difference? The average TV or movie will change camera viewpoint every four seconds for hours! Even the children shows average only eight seconds. The net effect of changing orientation every four to eight seconds is to train your child to be distractible.

You might be thinking my child is naturally distractible TV won't make a difference. May I suggest you experiment? Give your toddler his favorite picture book and count the seconds he takes before he flips the page (a simple measure of his attention span). You will find his attention span is 20 seconds or more. Yet every hour he or she watches TV they are practicing a 4 to 8 second attention span.

Does practicing a four second attention span for hours each day actually lower your attention span? Research notes that 9% of those who watch TV or videos for an hour a day will have attention spans at the level of the ADHD children. Increase to two hours a day and 18% of the population are similarly affected by three hours a day 27% have these low attention spans.

But these numbers are for three-year-olds and older what about Hillary? She is watching Baby Einstein videos. Researcher Dimitri A. Christakis, M.D. states "the best evidence we have about television viewing among children under the age of 3 is that not only is there no discernible benefit, it most likely will harm the child by overstimulating their brain at a critical point in development.” It turns out that the quality of actual physical interaction with other people is much more critical to developing language and people skills than listening to the TV.

Dr. Christakis has written a book, on the subject, The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work for Your Kids. It goes far beyond the loss of attention span and gives many ways to make TV work for your children. By the end of the book you will know which shows to watch and which to avoid and why.

Recognizing the Shift into Daydreaming

A daydreamer
A daydreamer

Solution Three: Accelerate Attention Span Development

If your child is following his passion (see Part 1) and his distractiblity is interfering with his success there is some great news you can take away from this research. First, simply turn off the TV and his natural tendency to lengthen his attention span over the years will take over. If he needs a faster increase take heart, if you can train people to lower their attention span, you can train them to raise it.

In order to do this the inattentive child needs to know when he is paying attention and when he isn't. This can be done by using video games that are linked to the brain waves that occur when the child pays attention and when he starts to daydream. You can pay some $5000 to get EEG biofeedback, but the best results seem to be coming from Play Attention. In one study among those who use Play Attention 98% of parents and 90% of teachers agreed that the Play Attention children improve their focus. (Research indicates that stimulant medicine like Ritalin and Adderall get only a 50% - 70% improvement.)

How does Play Attention work? They use a series of games starting with one that develops attention stamina and eventually adding one where the parent watches the computer screen and asks the child to refocus when he is starting to daydream. Practiced for less than an hour twice a week these games teach the child what it feels like to pay attention and what it feels like to slip into daydream mode within a year! Once they understand how their mind feels they can recreate the attention feeling and redirect when they start daydreaming.

Why not just use drugs? Wouldn't that be faster and easier? Yes, but drugs don't teach and do have dangerous side effects. If you go the drug route your doctor's plan is to keep your child on drugs for the rest of his life. A plan that can't work because the liver will learn how to destroy the drug faster and faster until the doctor is giving toxic doses. (The medical term for this is tolerance.) If you use Play Attention the child has a tool he can use the rest of his life without risking his life.

Importantly, Play Attention gives the child a choice to daydream while drugs forcibly suppress it. Why is that important? Because daydreaming or theta wave activity gradually becomes the more focused alpha wave activity. Focused alpha wave activity is how Edison created his patents. It is a technique that the heads of companies spend thousands of dollars to learn. I used it to get an A in Organic Chemistry, the gateway course into medical school.

Many people believe that there is an increased number of the ADHD among successful entrepreneurs. I've never seen the study, but it is certainly possible. We join high energy with imagination. Those are ingredients entrepreneurs need in abundance. Given the shaky ground Social Security is on I would highly recommend you support your child's entrepreneurial spirit and funnel his daydreaming toward more productive uses. While Play Attention can't do that it allows the brain to develop those gifts on its own. Drugs will not.

Importantly, Play Attention gives the child a choice to daydream while drugs forcibly suppress it. Why is that important? Because daydreaming or theta wave activity gradually becomes the more focused alpha wave activity. Focused alpha wave activity is how Edison created his patents. It is a technique that the heads of companies spend thousands of dollars to learn. I used it to get an A in Organic Chemistry, the gateway course into medical school.

Many people believe that there is an increased number of the ADHD among successful entrepreneurs. I've never seen the study, but it is certainly possible. We join high energy with imagination. Those are ingredients entrepreneurs need in abundance. Given the shaky ground Social Security is on I would highly recommend you support your child's entrepreneurial spirit and funnel his daydreaming toward more productive uses. While Play Attention can't do that it allows the brain to develop those gifts on its own. Drugs will not.

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