Why Is My Toddler Zoning Out?
As a parent, it can be concerning to hear that your kid is zoning out all of the time. What does this mean exactly? When your child is zoning out it could look something like staring at the wall or it could look like a kid running around in circles. The point of the matter is your child is stuck inside of their own head whenever there are things going on around them that are important and they should be paying attention to. This kind of behavior can lead to difficulties in school or work if it is not dealt with early on. It is important to understand how attention and focus works and how the brain of a child is a little different than that of an adult when it comes to executive function.
The basics of attention and executive function:
Executive function is the term that is used to describe our ability to control our actions and thoughts using our brain. It is based out of the prefrontal cortex, the most recently evolved portion of our brain. In order to maintain focus, you need to have enough activation of your prefrontal cortex to stimulate attention but if there is too much stimulation then it will lead to anxiety and a diffusion focus. Kids’ brains are built a little bit differently from those of an adult. Their prefrontal cortex has not fully developed and this is one of the reasons why children have such hard times controlling themselves. This should improve with age as the brain begins to develop more fully but in the meantime, there are a few things to look out for that can contribute to your kid’s habit of zoning out all the time.
Top reasons your toddler could be losing focus:
There are several reasons why your child may be having difficulty focusing. If you are attentive then you will likely see a few of these factors pop up whenever you notice that your kids start to lose focus. If you can try to control these factors then it may be possible for you to help your kids pay attention more easily without putting them on any kind of medication.
Your toddler is being overwhelmed with information.
Sometimes whenever your kid is being taught something if the information is too much or too difficult to understand then they will simply give up without telling. They will start to pay attention to things that they find more entertaining. The same kind of thing will happen occasionally even in adulthood. Just member the last time that you were being spoken to for an hour about a complex topic and how difficult it was for you to maintain focus throughout the whole presentation.
There are distractions in the environment.
If there are tons of distractions in the environment then it can be almost impossible for a kid to maintain focus even if they want to. Because their ability to control their brains is so limited they literally cannot help paying attention to things that are distracting. This will definitely improve as your kid’s age as long as they are developing normally. It is normal for kids to be unable to focus as easily or as long as adults can. Do not worry if they have some traits that suggest they are zoning out. It should only be a problem if it is happening too often.
The material is not engaging for your toddler.
Kids will be unable to attend to information that they find boring. They will instead find something else to do even if that is just daydreaming. If you have to teach your kids something that they find boring you will probably have better results if you take the time to try and make it a little more engaging for them. This will make it a lot easier for them to pay attention and you will get much less frustrated while you are teaching. Do not let the difficulty of breaking complex information down into something that is more enjoyable for a kid to learn to stop you from putting forth the effort to help your kid overcome their limited attention spans.
The information is over your toddler’s head.
If you are trying to teach your child something that is simply over their head then you are fighting a losing battle. If they are unable to comprehend what you are telling them that they will definitely lose focus. Your options are either to wait until they are old enough to understand what you are talking about or try to break the information down into something that is simpler so they can understand it. Trying to teach a child something they are not ready to learn is more or less impossible so it is not even worth the effort.
They have not eaten enough today so far.
Make sure that your children have had a healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch if it has been long enough in the day for one. One surefire way to make sure that your kids are unable to pay attention is to try and get them to focus whenever they are hungry. Not only does the brain not have the fuel to do so but the kids are being distracted by the hunger pangs inside of their own bellies. Instead, you should make sure that they have eaten before they need to focus.
You have put too much pressure or have been too harsh on them.
As a parent you want your kids to do the best that they can. It is easy to cross the line and pushed into art or put too much pressure on them. Because children are so young they are simply unable to handle this kind of pressure and most of the time will simply cave and no longer engage with the material. You should be extra positive and make sure that they understand no matter what the outcome is you are going to love them and they will not be punished.