Since David is my firstborn, and I’ve never had the chance to monitor the progression of attention span development in other children, I’ve been learning a lot about my expectations and reality in this area.
I was starting to get worried about David. He has the ability to do a fairly large puzzle for his age, but his attention span is too short to do the puzzle. Silly me, I’m worried he’s going to be an undisciplined wreck as an adult. The startling discovery is… get ready now: Attention span develops as a child gets older! Now, of course we can help or hurt attention spans. There is some evidence that excessive TV watching and computer use at early ages in particular hurts a child’s ability to focus. Helping children persist when a task is difficult (teamwork is the motivator of choice here) is a good thing for attention, I think.
But when all is said and done, a two year old doesn’t necessarily have the attention span to sit down with a puzzle for thirty minutes while I clean the house. I suppose part of me is surprised when they want or seem to need my interaction. I know that I am not a one-woman entertainer for my children. But I am coming to the awareness that my interaction is necessary in teaching valuable skills (like attention and persistence). And if I don’t expect my two year old to act like a four year old, maybe I can relax a little.
We choose our battles, don’t we? And sometimes we really do choose the wrong ones.