Attention and Learning


Good Attention is very important for children to have a smooth input and output of information in their brain as they continue learning. Another words, to say it in a simple way, child study, listen to teacher lessons, using Attention and Concentration, then all this information enters his or her brain short-term memory and after a while by repetitious of this information it enters in brain long term-memory box and then learning happens. The speed of learning and amount of information absorbed in brain long-term memory which is quite important for learning is different in every child. That is why some kids are faster than others in learning and memorizing.

Generally, Good Attention also comes with happiness and less feeling of anxiety or being stressed. This is also true with children and adolescents. Not every child with poor Attention can be diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In my practice of working with children over many years I came across with many children whom they were sent to me for Psycho-Educational assessment to rule out these disorders. However, after evaluation I found out that these kids are suffering from anxiety, sadness, school stress or family stress. After treating these kids with their difficulties, their attention and concentration improved tremendously and succeeded in their learning.

Even adults whom are under lot of stress tend to have poor memory and become forgetful. Some of the reason for poor memory is either related to stress, anxiety, depression or poor circulation of blood in front of the brain called frontal lobe.

Therefore, parents should pay more attention to their children emotion, often talking to them, ask about their day at school, their stressors, who bothered them at school, child’s fear, ability to learn, help them with homework without pressuring them or penalizing physically or emotionally. This can help child to open up and share his or her life and get help form parents for their difficulties. However, if parents can’t help them, then can let Child Psychologist to help their children overcome come such difficulties.

Poor Attention can also be affected due to genetic reason or child brain being affected by father and mother health, especially mom health during pregnancy and during childbirth. Other reasons which might affect children Attention later in life might be due to mothers during pregnancy, being exposed to factors such psychological pressure, prenatal depression, toxic chemical, getting sick during pregnancy, injury, and more. Furthermore, If child develop any kinds of epilepsy such as Epson or Petit mal seizure, it might also affect his or her Attention and Temper.

Children who have ADD or ADHD might show symptoms as early as age 4 but becomes more obvious when enter first grade and teachers can notice the signs of inattention and more. Children who are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD are mostly quite intelligent; however, due to poor attention and concentration they stay behind in their education, which in result affect their self-confidence. Consequently, it might lead to developing anxiety, anger, depression, behavior problems, alcohol or drug abuse and more. If children don’t receive psychotherapy as a child, they end up becoming adult ADD or ADHD.

In my years of practice in China, I have seen many expat and Chinese parents whom confuse the child’s symptoms and for many years blamed their children to be a bad or naughty child and in result child did not have chance to get psychological treatment to overcome their difficulties. 

Below, briefly I mention few symptoms of ADD and ADHD to help parents recognizing the problem.
☆Being quite hyperactive
☆Loosing things easily
☆Fail to complete things asked to do such as homework
☆Homework has many careless errors and is messy
☆Having behavior problem
☆Problem with attention (easily distracted)
☆Problem with concentration
☆Problem with impulsivity (do many dangerous actions without being aware of its consequences)
☆Having difficulty waiting
☆Interrupt others when talking
☆Having learning problem
☆Very talkative
☆Being very disorganized
☆Problem sitting in chair, move a lot in chair and many other symptoms

Medication is the last option for these children. Actually it will not treat but temporarily control some of symptoms. However, the pay back is many kinds of side effects which child will experience taking these medicines. These medicines can affect child liver, kidney, Immune system, sometimes causing mal-nutrition, affecting their growth and would require regular blood test to monitor these side effects.

Child Psychologists are trained to do psychological, neuropsychological assessment, treatment and treat many kinds of problems including ADD&ADHD without use of medicine. There are many other psychological issues of these children which needed to be treated besides attention and concentration. If issues including loneliness, depression, anxiety, impulsivity, poor self-esteem are treated, it will increase child Attention, Memory and will result in educational success and happiness in children. 

Along psychological treatment, Neurofeedback training, the latest technology developed in USA can help improve attention, memory, concentration and help improve good mood in Children. Neurofeedback training can rejuvenate underactive brain cell, improve certain brain wave function and bring more nutrition to brain which in result brain can function more normally. Consequently, Attention and Learning improves even in normal children and will impact greatly in improvement of Attention and Learning in children with Inattention.

As Freud says, work and play. Neurofeedback training uses quite fun clinical video games, cartoons with music which children easily accept and enjoy playing. As children play these games, their brain get trained, become more powerful, consequently improves their Attention and Learning.

Finally, children who seem naughty, trouble maker or not good at school, could be a child with ADD or ADHD. In such cases Psycho-Educational, neuropsychological assessment, psychological treatments and Neurofeedback training mentioned above can help reduce their suffering and increase Attention, Learning and Happiness.

Dr. Mike Mehrvarz