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Improve Attention, Help Your Child To Speak

What is attention?

Have you ever experienced these situations:

Situation 1
“I am so tired. My child can’t sit and she is not talking much.”Situation 2
“My son can’t focus. When I’m speak to him, it’s just a moment. He looked at the other places. Sometimes, he’s not answering questions correctly when I’m asking him.”

All those comments are from parents who have a child with attention problem. Attention is the ability to:

  • Focus on the specific task (Example: toys, food)
  • Transfer focus from one item to another (Example: attention from a toy/game to parents)
  • Maintain focus for a specific length of time

Joint attention is the ability to share a common focus on something (people, objects, a concept, an event) with someone else. Joint attention serves as a referencing tool that uses shared gaze and gesture for communication.

Joint attention is developed between child and parents at early stage which is around 9 months and it is well-established at 18 months.

Why attention is important to my child’s communication?

Attention and listening skills are important skills to your child as it is necessary for them to learn about their environment. Other than that, attention will help child to focus and understand the sound or speech production that had been produced by others (Middleton & Waring , 2002).

Thus, sharing the same attention between the child and others can help in improving child’s language, speech, communication and academic developments. Furthermore, it will help in enhancing child’s quality of life in the future.

Attention needed in chilren with the purpose to :

  • Build up the social interaction skills/early communication skills between the children and adult.
  • Increase the abilities to understand the words/ speech and follow (simple/ complex) commands.
  • Increase receptive and expressive vocabulary (words).
  • Build up correct sentence structures.
  • Produce correct pronounciation/speech sounds.
  • Acquired reading and writing skills.
  • Involvements in the conversation and also discussion in the class.

How if your child have poor attention span? Effect of poor attention span are:

  • Communication difficulties
  • Social problem with peers and elders.
  • Speech and language delay.
  • Articulation/pronounciation problem.
  • Able to speak but having error in sentence structures (not complete sentences)
  • Learning difficulties (reading and/or writing)

What are the strategies to improve my child’s attention?

Parents play the important role in helping to improve the child’s attention. You have to calm and think positive to find the best approach to enhance your child’s attention and communication.
Listed below are the strategies for you to attract and improve your child’s attention.

  1. Reduce distractions
    • Switch off television or radio during play or doing any activities.
    • Keep your smartphone or electronic devices such as iPad or tablet
  2. Clear and firm instructions
    • Clear and firm instructions can help your child to be more focus and listen better towards your instructions.
  3. Attractive activities

    • Choose activity that your child like most
    • It helps in giving your child the opportunity to make their own decisions.
    • Furthermore, it encourages your child to communicate
    • Use picture schedule to maintain and increase your child’s attention during the activity/task.
  4. Consistant reinforcement system
    • Consistantly praise or give reinforcement to your child can help your child to keep focus on the task.
  5. Language stimulation
    • Comment on what your child is doing during play
    • Example: During playing with a car
    • Parents: “Vroom, vrooom. The car is coming. Big car is coming. It’s going to crash. Booom.. crashed.”
    • Wait and observe for your child’s response
    • Respond to your child’s facial expression, gesture, sound or speech
  6. Use variety of intonation
    • Use variety of intonation can attract your child’s attention
    • Use emphasizing on the words that you want to teach your child.

What can I do to improve my child’s attention?

You can implement all the activities that had been suggested as a daily routine.The important things are spending the time with your child, the enjoyment of doing the activity, the opportunity, the encouragement and language stimulation that you give to your child.

There are variety of activities that you can do to increase your child’s attention and communication which are:

  1. Sand play
  2. Story telling by using story book
  3. Create an experience diary regarding the activity that had been done (example: camping, baking cake)
  4. Guess game
  5. Puzzle
  6. Gardening
  7. Art and craft
  8. Cooking time
  9. Create any shapes with the clay/playdough
  10. Memory game

There are a lot of activities that you can try and create in order to improve your child’s attention and communication. As a parents, you understand more about your child’s desire and ability.


  1. Cohen A. & Fay M. Improving Social Communication through Joint Attention: Interventions to Support Training for Children with Autism. Peroleh Microsoft PowerPoint pada 2/9/2015
  2. Daymut, J.A . Joint Attention Skills and the Child with Autism. Super Duper Handy Handouts! Peroleh dari http://www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/196_JoinAttentionandASD.pdf pada 5/9/2015
  3. 7 Activities To Improve The Attention Span of Your Children (2012). Peroleh dari http://kamloopsparents.com/2012/05/31/7-activities-to-improve-the-attention-span-of-your-children/ pada 2/9/2015
  4. How Can I Help My Child Develop Listening and Attention? Peroleh dari  http://www.coventrychildrensslt.co.uk/pages/attention-and-listening.html pada 2/9/2015
Last Reviewed : 28 August 2020
Writer / Translator : Nurbaiti bt. Mohamad Adli
Accreditor : Fairus bt. Mukhtar
Reviewer : Nadwah bt. Onwi