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Look, I know it’s unrealistic that ALL of our children between the ages of 1 and 5 have ADHD, but some days it really feels like that, right?
Our little ones just can’t seem to sit still or focus on one activity for long. I know it’s just the developmental stage for kids this age to be drawn to all the new stimuli all the time, but I also think it’s important for kiddos to occasionally practice something that requires focus. And I don’t mean trying to get them to focus on a dry worksheet that’s really boring to them.
Play can require so much precision that kids have to focus and calm down to succeed at it. Of course, not all games should be like this, but it’s nice to include a few that are! It will help your child develop perseverance—a quality we rarely discuss with toddlers and preschoolers but is oh so important. A child who has learned to focus and persevere at a challenging task until they master it—purely for the sake of the task, not for external reward or praise—is a child who will work hard in school, learn to become creative at finding new ways to solve problems, and truly enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing something difficult like a term paper or final project.
Ball Scoop is simple. Just get big slotted spoons from the kitchen, a bunch of balls, and two containers. Here we’re going from the bag into a canvas bin, but we’ve seriously done every combination of this (and each one requires slightly different fine motor movements). From one big plastic mixing bowl to another, from a mixing bowl to a canvas bin and back (the difference in height makes it interesting), from his grocery cart into a “mini ball pit” he made for his Elmo doll in a box… seriously, everything.
In addition to focus (and quiet), this requires both fine and gross motor skills. Get a second spoon and do it with your kiddo. Notice how hard they try to hold their hand perfectly still and not tip it on the trip over. It’s wild to watch in slow-mo something that’s so easy for us that their little hands are still developing the fine motor control for.
Just make sure that when you scoop balls with your kiddo, you try to drop about as many as they do, as well as model how to positively keep trying after failure. Saying things like, “Oops! Silly mommy. Let me try another one.” or “What a goof! I better keep practicing” always helps me show my son that everyone messes up, and it’s not at all a big deal… the biggest thing is that we try to be lighthearted about it and keep trying!