Mental focus is crucial to a child’s personal development and long-term success. Children with good concentration generally do better in school, have high self-esteem and are motivated to accomplish their goals. Meanwhile, easily distracted kids experience the opposite, with each negative encounter causing a domino effect on all aspects of their growth.
Inattention is common among young people, but when it starts to hurt their academic performance, self-confidence, and personal relationships, it becomes a cause for concern. Your child is born with unique gifts, and it’s only natural to want to help them unleash their hidden genius. In this article, we discuss the many factors that can distract kids and what various field experts recommend to enhance their focus and mental performance.
What Parts of Kids’ Brains Are Concerned with Mental Focus?
Children are born with billions of brain cells connected by trillions of synapses. Different regions of the brain help your child focus, and they work in synergy.
For example, a toddler’s perception of hunger and sighting of food engage different neural pathways. To respond to hunger pangs, another neural network motivates the child to take action and continue until they are fed.
As in adults, children’s mental focus is the result of the combined actions of different brain parts, particularly the following:
Reticular activating system (RAS)
A collection of brainstem nerves involved in wakefulness and sleep.
The seat of memory and learning. A child will also learn how to think symbolically during the preoperational stage. The ability to focus, short-term memory, long-term memory, logic, and reasoning are all developing during these years.
Sensory processing centers
Cerebral regions that analyze and make sense of what a person perceives from the environment. They include cognitive networks for calculation, language, and logic, as well as emotional processing centers.
Frontal and prefrontal lobes
The seats of attention, decision-making, motivation, cognition, planning, judgment, morality and impulse control. The prefrontal lobe completes its development in adulthood, well after most other brain regions have finished theirs.
During this stage, a child learns how to think abstractly. They hone their problem-solving skills and the type of person they're going to become is made clear.
Adults are taught by experience to ignore various external stimuli and control their urges. Their ability to concentrate mostly depends on the activity of the above parts, which are largely affected by lifestyle choices.
“Children’s brains have not had enough practice to allow for significant pruning, habitualization, and adaptation, so they are more prone to environmental distractions on top of internal ones. In addition to the above regions, their sensory nerve pathways—sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste and position sense—greatly influence their mental focus.”
Nature vs. Nurture: Are All Kids Born with the Same Ability to Focus?
Some children are more proactive in pursuing their goals, whereas others are more laid back. Some “are not the forgiving type,” while others easily forget they were ever angry. Some are more adventurous, while others are overcautious.
These are all explained by differences in temperament, the inclination to behave a certain way in response to a stimulus.
In the 1970s, child psychiatrists Thomas and Chess theorized that kids were born temperamentally diverse, having different moods, thresholds of responsiveness, distractibility, persistence levels, etc. They believed that the combination of these traits determined a child’s goodness of fit into their environment.
“Kids are not born with the same ability to concentrate or filter their thoughts.”
Angry children who keep getting into fights and struggling academically will continue to resort to the same defense mechanisms without intervention.
“However, the brain’s plasticity makes it possible to optimize mental performance by training, therapy and other tools.”
Modern science and patient guidance have helped countless children turn their Ds and Fs into straight-A performances.
If your child seems to have learning and emotional difficulties, you need to find out how to help them focus better. The sooner you do this, the sooner they can overcome developmental barriers.
What Causes Lack of Concentration Among Children?
Children who have focus problems tend to be shy, demotivated, indecisive and full of self-doubt. They can pick up on their parents’ frustration and build negative perceptions of themselves. Additionally, labeling from other children, teachers or parents can make them too discouraged to try again, which often results in withdrawal or aggression. All of these can make it more difficult to unlock their abilities.
Does this sound familiar?
If your child or a friend’s has difficulty concentrating or paying attention, doctors recommend looking into the following possibilities:
These are the more common reasons for poor focus and mental performance in children. A large majority are easy to correct, and thus, have a good prognosis.
Surroundings Full of Distractions
Examine your child’s learning environment. Extra stimulation of their senses can make them lose focus easily. At school, they could be seated next to classmates who would rather talk than listen to their teachers. At home, wall decorations, loud noises, strewn-out toys, TV and others could divert their attention from doing their homework.
Lack of Good Sleep
Not getting enough sleep tires out the RAS and can make kids too drowsy to pay attention. Check for things that make it difficult for them to fall asleep at the right hours or get good sleep quality. Late-night horror shows and electronic gadget use, midnight noises, bed bugs, uncomfortable cots, etc. are common examples.
Finds No Motivation in School
Our educational system recommends the same learning courses for kids. However, as we mentioned previously, children are born with different gifts and temperaments. Lack of interest can mask true intelligence, and it may be because kids find schoolwork too difficult or easy.
Tasks that are too difficult can demotivate young, inexperienced people. Meanwhile, too easy assignments can also bore them. You’ll never know the difference unless you sit with your child and investigate. Either way, lack of interest can result in poor focus and fund of knowledge.
Inactivity-Induced Brain Fog
Take a break and get your child moving. Exercise raises levels of oxygen, nutrients and the neuronal growth factor BDNF in the brain. All of these substances stimulate growth and synaptic formation in regions critical to learning, concentration and emotional balance. Sedentariness deprives your child of the mental benefits of physical activity.
Poor Nutrition and Energy Management
The brain needs food for fuel, tissue maintenance, disease protection and proper function. Poor neuronal nutrition comes in three forms: too little intake, too much intake and intake of the wrong kinds of food.
Children who eat too little are at risk for vitamin deficiencies, dehydration, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) and various electrolyte deficits. All of these conditions reduce mental alertness, attention and motivation. Hunger and thirst can also distract kids.
Meanwhile, children who eat too much may suffer from chronic inflammation and early-onset cardiovascular disease, which also impair mental performance.
Eating the “wrong” kinds of food can likewise damage the body and brain.
Without proper guidance, kids may get accustomed to the standard American diet, which is high in simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and sodium. Additionally, since children naturally get curious about many things, parents should watch out for signs of underage drinking or experimentation with alcohol.
Toxic Exposure from the Environment
Too Little Social Interaction
Inborn conditions that can affect mental performance (see table below) are rare. They are not always apparent at birth, and their manifestations range from mild to severe. Their course, treatment, and prognosis depend on symptom severity, with most needing advanced medical interventions or having no cure. Specialist consults are always necessary in these cases.
Those that affect the brain include the following:
Disordered Brain Growth Genetics
“The reasons for poor mental concentration in a huge majority of pediatric cases are trivial. However, since kids cannot articulate their symptoms as well as adults can, doctors routinely try to look for a more serious cause—physical, psychological, social, etc.—until it is completely ruled out.”
They could miss a potentially fatal condition if they ignored subtle neurologic changes.
How Can You Help Improve Your Child’s Concentration and Mental Performance?
Now, you’re aware of the elements that can potentially distract your child. Below is a list of expert-recommended actions that you can take to help them focus better:
Give Them a Room Dedicated to Studying
Help Them Practice Sleep Hygiene
Make Learning Fun through Brain Games
Make Delayed Gratification a Tool
Let Your Child Run and Play
Give your child the complete brain supplement with a delightful taste
Best Brain Supplement For Kids
Feed Your Child's Brain
Aside from their unique cardiovascular health benefits, evidence proves that these nutrients raise BDNF levels in the brain. Ask your doctor about including them in your child’s dietary regimen.
“I give this smoothie to my boys (3- and 4-yr-old) every morning. My 4yr old is a very picky eater and doesn’t eat his green veggies. We force veggies in however we can, but I also make sure he gets this smoothie since it gives me peace of mind that he’s definitely getting the nutrients his little body needs. I’ve also noticed it has greatly improved his attention and focus, which definitely needed some sharpening!”
Have Heart-to-Heart Talks with Your Child
Talking to your child gives you more opportunities to teach or find out if something is bothering them.
Encourage Playtime with Other Kids
Chat with Their Teachers and School Counselors
Find the Child’s Comfortable Learning Style
Some kids do well with just one learning style, while others have mixed learning styles. School counselors and developmental specialists may help you figure out which one suits your child best and formulate study habits that work.
Work with Your Pediatrician
Get Specialist Help
Adjust Their Medications
As you can see from this guide, helping kids regain their focus does not have to be a one-man job. In fact, enlisting the help of a few experts may give your child the best chance at recovery.
“if you sense any bothersome changes in your kid, don’t delay in taking action. The longer they stay sick or adopt a maladaptive behavior, the greater the damage and the longer it will take for them to recover.”
Mental focus impacts various aspects of children’s personal growth. It is the product of the coordinated actions of different brain areas.
Best brain supplements for enhancing your child’s mental focus
Get your kid this brain-healthy smoothie with a scrumdiddlyumptious taste
Sharp minds are always at the top of their game.
How Does Good Nutrition Boost Your Mental Performance?
The old expression "You are what you eat" sums up food's effects on the body. Feeding it trash makes you constantly feeling sick and energy-drained. Giving it the proper nutrients peps you up and gets you ready for any challenge.
Food Provides Energy to Your Brain Cells
The Energy Content of Food
Nutrients Build Up the Neurons
The best brain diet combines all these nutrients as each has a unique role in maintaining health and peak performance.
Diet Dictates Mental Function
Brain foods improve focus and mental performance because they are rich in high-quality nutrients that boost the above substances.
Good Food Protects the Brain from Disease
Electrolyte and Fluid Balance Are Crucial to Mental Alertness and Focus
A brain-healthy diet lets you compete at the highest levels in any field.
As you can see, nutrition has multiple vital roles in the brain, so careful food selection is key to optimum mental performance. Sadly, many active people are so accustomed to the standard American diet, which contributes little to proper neuronal function and upkeep. If you're on this diet and feeling constantly stressed, depressed, and distracted, you might consider switching to a regimen that will nourish the brain back to health.
“When it comes to overall brain health, just adding certain supplements will sharpen your brain”
Bindya Gandhi, M.D
What Is the Best Diet for Sharpening Mental Focus?
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of the MIND diet on mental performance.
A diet containing all these food groups will help you enhance your mental focus, stay within a healthy weight range and avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Make sure you give your brain the best food
Help your brain get what it needs to flourish, every day.
“One of the best things I noticed about Cover Three was after taking the products for a couple weeks, I really started to notice that I had this mental momentum”
What Foods Can Make the Brain Sluggish?
For cardiovascular and mental health, nutrition experts advise limiting the intake of the following dietary components:
Added (simple) sugars:
A diet high in added sugars, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium can seriously impair mental and physical performance. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke all lead to neurologic decline at an early age.
Saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol:
The MIND diet includes moderate red wine intake, but this is more for the beverage's antioxidant properties and not its alcohol content. People who prefer to have red wine in their regimen can have one glass a day. There is no recommendation that those who are not taking alcohol should start doing it. They can get the brain booster trans-resveratrol from other foods and supplements.
Except for alcohol, these substances are the principal components of the standard American diet. That is why there has been a steep rise in neurological and mental health issues in the last few decades. However, limiting their intake has been shown to enhance mental focus, delay cognitive decline and maintain psychological well-being.
How Should You Make A Brain Food Diet Plan?
A proven nutritional strategy for improving brain health is the MIND diet plan.
Dark green vegetables—at least 6 servings a week
Meanwhile, it also has the following restrictions:
Red meat—no more than 4 servings a week
Butter and margarine—no more than 1 tablespoon daily
Cheese—no more than 1 serving a week
Pastries and sweets—no more than 5 servings a week
Fast food—no more than 1 serving a week
For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, a sample 3-day meal plan can look like this:
These meals require short preparation time. However, if you are too busy to cook but want to ensure that your neurons stay healthy, there's always doctor-formulated Brain Assist.
What Else Can Boost Mental Performance Besides the Best Brain Diet?
You may be tired of hearing it from the health buffs, and yet they're right. Studies show that consistent brain training and physical activity can also perk up the brain. When combined with a brain-healthy diet, they can improve mental performance and help stave off cognitive decline.
The best brain diet provides energy, enhances neuronal resilience and growth, promotes proper function, fights disease and ensures electrolyte balance. The standard American diet lacks most of these qualities, so it does not contribute much to brain health.
Help your brain get what it needs to flourish, every day.
Omega-3 fatty acids are substances that have structural and functional significance in the body. They are essential nutrients—human cells cannot make omega-3s on their own and must obtain them from the diet.
First Things First — What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids belong to a class of compounds called "polyunsaturated fatty acids" or PUFAs. These substances have multiple unsaturated bonds, or "double bonds,” that let them remain fluid at normal temperatures—a property that is crucial to cellular function.
Omega-3 fatty acids are named after the omega-3 unsaturated bond. Three omega-3 oils are important to humans: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids That Are Important to Human Growth
Flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts are abundant sources of ALA. On the other hand, DHA and EPA are best obtained from fatty fish. Lactating mothers on omega-3-rich diets have higher amounts of these nutrients in their milk, which is good for exclusively breastfed infants.
How is this information relevant to your child’s health?
“We need these(Alpha GPC and DHA omegas) in our children. We need these during pregnancy. We need these before pregnancy. Moms who are breast-feeding need to be taking these nutrients. Babies need to be taking these nutrients.”
Dr. Ari Calhoun
What Are the Roles of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a Child's Body?
Omega-3 fatty acids have crucial functions in a child's body. The most important ones are explained below.
The Brain Cells Interacting at Lightning Speed at the Synapse
In the brain, neuronal communication is a fast process. Children's reflexes, memory retrieval, multiplication skills, emotional regulation and other mental tasks depend on the signaling between different brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids, mostly DHA, keep the brain cell membranes fluid to ensure that message transmission occurs within a split-second.
Post-injury pain, swelling, warmth and redness
Allergic rashes and cough
Fever during an infection
Omega-3 derivatives have actions different from those of their omega-6 counterparts. The former combat inflammation while the latter promote the process. Both groups of molecules are needed for normal function. However, a higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids, typical of the standard American diet, can make kids susceptible to frequent bouts of inflammation.
Keeping Bad Cholesterol in Check
Cholesterol plaques are collections of excess cholesterol—another type of fat molecule—and debris that build up in the blood vessels over time. Plaque formation begins as early as childhood, and it can speed up or slow down, depending on one's diet and genetic factors.
Get yummy brain supplements that your kids will love
“Cover Three helped to make everything more connected in the memory center of the brain”
What Are the Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Kids?
Healthy kids grow up to become intellectually, emotionally and physically resilient adults. Omega-3 fatty acids support children's health, letting them become bold conquerors of life's challenges. Clinical and epidemiological studies prove the beneficial actions of these essential nutrients.
Enhanced Cardiovascular Function
Omega-3 fatty acid levels inversely correlate with obesity and insulin resistance among school-age children.
Modulation of Inflammatory Responses
In a group of school-age children, higher omega-3 fatty acid intake was associated with fewer asthmatic attacks and a lesser need for bronchodilator therapy. Increased omega-6 fatty acid intake was associated with opposing trends.
Chronic inflammation wears people out, and its cancer risk is real no matter what age. Omega-3 fatty acids modulate kids’ inflammatory responses, keeping them on track to meet their goals.
What Dosage of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Is Recommended for Children?
The following table shows the adequate daily intakes of omega-3 oils in the pediatric population, as recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
A brain-healthy diet lets you compete at the highest levels in any field.
*As total omega-3 fats
“With the blend of turmeric and omega fatty acids in Cover Three, I felt amazing. And I've tried a lot of nootropics and with Cover Three I definitely experienced better brain function”
Dr. Amber Krogsrud
What Are the Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Some of the known side effects of Omega-3 fatty acids are:
Bad odor of the sweat and breath
Digestive problems, because fat intake can irritate the gut
There has also been some concern about omega-3 fatty acids interfering with normal clotting.
Blood clotting is a process that depends on the balance between clotting promoters and suppressors. Blood will clot if the promoters predominate, but it will stay fluid if the suppressors prevail. Blood that is too thick or clots easily can clog the vessels and deprive the cells of oxygen. On the other hand, blood thinning can also rupture blood vessels.
Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to keep this balance. When taken in the recommended amounts, the risk of bleeding is insignificant. Studies among adult cardiac patients taking omega-3 oil supplements are inconclusive at best. Remember that some of them are even taking blood thinners for their condition. In children, one research showed that fish oil supplementation is safe even for high-risk post-surgical patients.
The FDA recommends that the total daily omega-3 fatty acid intake should not exceed 3.0 g, and as much as 2.0 g can come from supplements. However, according to the European Food Safety Authority, the consumption of 5.0 g of combined omega-3 oils daily has not been associated with adverse effects in healthy children or adults.
How Can You Get Your Kids to Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Now that you know more about the benefits and safety of omega-3s, your next concern may be about how to give them to picky eaters.
Fortified milk, which you can serve as is or mixed in soup or cereals.
However, we all know that the struggle is harder with some kids. You may try giving them fish oil, but it is known for its funny smell and taste and tendency to cause allergies. Chewable gel capsules are another option, but some kids don't think they're fun.
Last but not the least, you may try doctor-formulated Cover Three Kids Brain Boost. It has that yummy orange taste that kids love. Besides being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, it is packed with other brain boosters to improve your child's mental and physical performance.
—boosts alertness, memory and focus. It also helps power up muscle movement.
—sharpens memory and focus while keeping the mood up and protecting from inflammation.
—a powerful free radical neutralizer, protecting the brain and body from stress.
—aids brain cell development, body growth and immune function.
—powers up the immune system while enhancing mental focus.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that help build cell membranes, boost mental performance, fight inflammation and ensure cardiovascular health. They are obtained mostly from the diet, and rich sources include fatty fish, nuts, seeds and fortified milk. They are generally safe for children when given at the right amounts.
However, picky eaters and chronically sick kids are at risk of developing omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Cover Three Kids Brain Boost is a yummy supplement that can ensure that your child is getting enough omega-3s to support their full development. It also has other mental focus boosters that can help them build mental momentum and secure a brighter tomorrow.
Top brain supplements for kids
Give your kids a smoothie packed with omega-3s and several other brain nutrients