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Building His Attention Span

The typical two-year-old is on the go the whole time, rarely settling quietly at the same activity for more than a few minutes. With limited attention, he flits from one toy to the next. It's almost as though he has so much energy that he can only concentrate on a toy or game for a very limited amount of time.

Don't get frustrated about this, because your child's attention span is often weak at this age. That's normal. You'll notice that his concentration skills spontaneously change during the preschool years, in the following ways: 

From Passive To Active

Whereas a new baby looks at something only when it captures his attention by moving across his field of vision, an older child actively searches and explores. His attention becomes more dynamic and controlled.

From Unsystematic To Systematic Discovery

Watch a young baby pick up and examine, say, a rattle. You'll notice that he does this in a very haphazard way, and will only look at one or two sections of it. However, an older child explores an object more systematically.

From Broad To Selective Attention

A young baby can't filter out information very well. An older child is more able to focus his attention on one aspect, for instance, he sees the flashing light at the pelican crossing, despite other objects in his visual field.

From Short To Long

His ability to keep his attention on one item, while easily blocking out all other competing sights and sounds, steadily improves. An older child concentrates for longer than a young baby.

Building His Attention

One of the most effective ways to help increase your two-year-olds attention span is to remove distractions. He is less likely to concentrate for long when, for example, there is music playing in the background. Make his surroundings as distraction-free as possible when trying to keep his attention.

For instance, there is no point in asking him to tidy his toys when his eyes are already glued to the television set - although he'll nod in agreement, he has not really absorbed what you have told him. Instead, mute the sound or switch the TV off altogether before speaking to him. And don't expect him to play with a jigsaw for long if he is surrounded by other competing items, such as building blocks, play figures, or construction toys.

There are other ways to improve his attention. For example, once you have given your two-year-old an instruction, check out his understanding by asking him to repeat it bark to you. He'll probably be irritated by this request but make it anyway - getting him to tell you what you just told him is one of the best ways to check his level of attention and understanding, and it also helps his memory.

Should he not be able to repeat the instruction accurately, simply tell him again. Repeat this process until you are sure he has listened accurately. Some children have a very short attention span, compared to other children the same age. A useful way of extending a child's attention span is to give your child a short activity (for instance, playing with crayons), and time how long he persists with this until his attention wanders (say, one minute).

The next night, let him play with the crayons again but this time, encourage him to persist with the activity for a few seconds longer, and give him lots of praise when he achieves this. Then, gradually increase the amount of time each night, until his attention span is longer.

Mozzies No More!

Stroking your baby on his or her soft and smooth skin; isn't that one of your most favorite feelings in the world? But what if one day, you find a big red spot on your baby's cheek that's such a vivid contrast to his or her fair and otherwise flawless skin... and it's not just any blemish too - it's a mosquito bite!

Why Do Mosquitoes Bite?

Only female mosquitoes bite. Female mosquitoes need the proteins in our blood to produce fertile eggs. They require a new blood `meal' for every nest they lay, and they produce about 250 eggs per meal.

What Are The Potential Dangers Of A Mosquito Bite?

The good news is that a mosquito bite is usually no cause for alarm. However, we cannot overlook the fact that mosquito bites can end up being more than just an irritating itch for your baby. Here is why...

  • Dengue and malaria, which are mosquito-borne diseases. They can become fatal.
  • If your baby does get bitten by a mosquito, you should try to prevent him or her from scratching at the itch - scratching could cause scarring, and that's one blemish you don't want on your baby!

When Is It More Than Just Mosquito Bite?

More often than not, a mosquito bite is nothing to worry about. However, if your baby develops symptoms such as fever and rashes, or is simply crankier than usual for no good reason, it may be wise to seek a paediatrician's advice.

How Can I Protect My Baby From Mosquito Bites?

You'll definitely need a little more than a mosquito net over your baby's cot!

  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when going outdoors.
  • Do stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn, dusk and early evening.
  • Use an insect repellent. Most insect repellent use DEFT, a registered pesticide. However, DEET should not be used on infants under two months' of age. Even children between six months and two years' of age, should only use products that have less than 10% DEFT. Besides, they can only use it once a day.

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