Pay attention, please

Help your child develop concentration skills

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By the time he turns 1, you’ll have a good idea whether concentration is his strong point or not. Like adults, children vary tremendously in how long they can concentrate on something new. While some toddlers can watch something for hours, others get bored very quickly.

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‘Concentration is controlled, in part, by our genes,’ says Tessa Livingstone, author of Child Of Our Time (Bantam Press, £14.99). ‘There are specific regions of the brain that are responsible for how well we concentrate, and these differ in size and complexity.’

But concentration can be learned. ‘Encouraging a 1-year-old to concentrate can seem like a daunting task, but you can help by giving him things that interest him and by praising him for sticking to a task or activity until it’s finished,’ says Tessa. ‘It can be worth doing the activity with him, but forcing him to do something he’s not interested in will be counter-productive.’

What real mums say…

‘Joshua’s like a bull in a china shop at the moment. I feel like I have to run behind him, putting right the chaos he leaves in his wake!’

Julia Nighe, 42, mum to Joshua, 22 months

Hush please

New research has found that a noisy childcare environment can hamper your baby’s development. Researchers from the University of Maryland in the United States, found that:

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  • Toddlers are confused and distracted by background noise, at least until the age of 1. By 13 months, children are beginning to separate out streams of conversation.
  • The children studied could only pick out a woman’s voice calling to them when the background-noise levels were minimal. When the noise was increased to a level found in day nurseries and playgroups, they were unable to identify the voice.
  • Children struggling to hear what is said in their first year could suffer from language and speech-delay problems in the future.

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