At what point do children learn to concentrate?

The ability to concentrate is acquired over the years and brain maturation. Find out at what age children learn to control their attention.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 20 January, 2022

Disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are, today, on everyone’s lips. It seems that the percentage of children diagnosed is increasing and this can lead parents to worry. Faced with certain child behaviors fear arises that the child has a problem of this kind. But in reality, what happens is that we do not fully understand when and how children learn to concentrate.

Perhaps your child can’t stand reading for more than a few minutes, gets distracted doing his homework or spends a short time developing the same activity or game. Before you get alarmed, ask yourself what his abilities are according to his age.

Perhaps you are demanding more than the little one can give. In order to avoid these situations, we share valuable information about children’s concentration.

What is concentration and how does it develop in children?

concentration is the ability to direct attention to relevant stimuli and sustain it, discarding those inputs that do not serve us. It is a complex and intentional process; not only must we choose the focus, but we must also be able to ignore other irrelevant stimulations.

Achieving this achievement is related to brain development and maturation. Newborns often focus on their caregivers’ faces and voices, but their attention is highly fickle. They will react and change their focus to any sound or stimulation in the environment.

As the child grows, he not only learns to voluntarily direct his attentional focus, but also gains the ability to stay focused for long periods of time. This, as the prefrontal brain regions mature.

Let us bear in mind that these structures do not finish developing until after adolescence, so there is a long way to go. Even so, let’s see the advances that occur at each age.

Distraction when doing homework and schoolwork is to be expected up to certain ages.

Children’s ability to concentrate according to age

The times and characteristics mentioned below are indicative and may vary slightly from one child to another. It is convenient to know them and take them into account to know what to expect in each season:

  • During the first year: the baby’s attention is fleeting and unstable. He is easily distracted by novel and striking elements of the environment. Your attention cannot be sustained for more than 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Between 1 and 2 years: At this time, children focus on what attracts them, pleases them and draws their attention. But they won’t hold it for more than 6-8 minutes.
  • Between 2 and 3 years: voluntary attention begins to develop. The child controls where he puts his focus. However, it is easy to get distracted and not stay focused for more than 15 minutes.
  • Between 3 and 4 years: the infant already has more control over his attention. You can change it at will and hold it even for 20 minutes. However, it is common to want to change activities when you start to get bored.
  • Between 4 and 5 years: your child will be able to maintain their concentration for 25 minutes and even attend to several aspects at the same time. For example, he will be able to hear and understand your instructions while he is painting.
  • 6-7 years and up: From this moment on, control over attention is greater. The child can focus on a task, even if it is not very attractive to him. Their periods of concentration increase to 40 or 45 minutes by age 9. Despite this, if the task is unpleasant or boring, they may become distracted after 15 minutes.

What is the use of knowing when children learn to concentrate?

Taking into consideration the capacities present at each age is essential for the pedagogical process in the classroom. However, for parents this knowledge is also essential.

This It will allow them to organize the tasks they do with their children, adjusting the periods of time, scheduling adequate breaks and, above all, identifying if there really is a problem.

As we have mentioned, sometimes we believe that a child has ADHD, when they are simply being a child. Even in the medical community there is overdiagnosis. We cannot ask infants to be miniature adults, to sit down, pay attention and comply without moving their eyes.

A child with an attention disorder will have difficulty functioning at the level of peers of the same age. Not only will he be easily distracted, but he will make multiple inattentive mistakes, forget certain things, and lose various items.

In these cases, consulting with a professional is the most appropriate way to obtain a diagnosis and apply the appropriate guidelines at home and at school.



Encourage concentration in children

The ability to concentrate largely depends on the child’s age. However, this is not the only condition. As parents, we can encourage them by applying some simple guidelines:

  • Try to make activities engaging and enjoyable. There are many ways to approach the same task, and the more appealing it is to children, the easier it is for them to stay focused. For example, you can make the time to pick up his toys a game, using a song or setting up a competition.
  • Make sure the environment is suitable contain no unnecessary distractions. Technological devices, the noise of the home or loud music in the background can cause the child’s focus to drift more often.
  • Offer simple instructions and limit them to 2 or 3 at once. In this way, it will be easier for you to comply.
  • Certain games and activities, such as putting together puzzles, coloring mandalas, or copying pictures, favor this cognitive ability. Include them in your children’s daily life.
  • Pay attention to their basic needs. A tired or hungry child will have a harder time staying focused.
There are activities that favor concentration and the practice of this skill. Assembling puzzles is an option.


Children learn to focus on their moment; let’s respect them

In short, always keep in mind when children learn to concentrate and remember that It is a complex process that develops progressively.. Respect your child’s times, adapt the activities to their age and don’t force them more than necessary.

If, despite this, you suspect that there may be a problem, contact a child psychologist. The professional will be able to guide you.

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