The short-attention-span toddler
A question from M in the suggestion thread: “What is a realistic attention span of an 18 month old concerning playing with toys? My husband and I can’t agree if it’s ‘normal’ for an 18 month old to go from toy to toy. Should the amount of toys offered/housed in an area be limited?”
Normal toddlers can have a very short attention span. At times, they’ll zoom from toy to toy like a hummingbird, barely touching one thing before moving on to another. It’s common for toddlers to lose interest three pages into a story, and completely lose interest in a new toy by the time Mom gets the package open!
Occasionally, toddlers will spend a solid five minutes or more on one toy, but expect that to be the exception, not the rule.
Some people feel that modern life has led to a loss of attention prowess in children. There is evidence that children who watch more TV are more likely later to do diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder. Certainly, children today have more electronic toys than ever before. Many kids have access to a great number of noisy, sparkling, and captivating toys. It’s difficult to know if shorter attention spans have really become the rule, but to many older people this seems true.
Some strategies to get your child to slow down, if you think his short attention span is a problem: turn off the TV, set a good example by staying relaxed, avoid multitasking or rushing him through activities, and certainly limit the number of toys available. If you don’t want to part with toys for good, put some away in a hidden area, and rotate toys back and forth—sort of like a “toy library.” But you’d better hide those backup toys well!
© 2008 Roy Benaroch, MD from http://www.PediatricInsider.com