Toddler attention span

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Toddler attention span

Young children have short attention spans. At 18 months, we expect a child to go from object to object, from activity to activity. They are in total exploratory mode, and this is normal and healthy. They have mobility and curiosity with little judgment. That's one of the reasons why parenting a toddler is so tiring. One of the abilities that helps us with attention span is imagination. So a shovel can turn into a magic wand that turns the buckets into boats into the ocean. Another ability is to plan sequential actions. If without these ability, mainly for its physical attributes, that doesn't hold a child's attention. We can expect a four year old, during imaginative play, to plan sequential actions to be able to focus on an activity. We can't expect that of an 18 month old. With growth, our children's attention span increases as they learn new skills and new ways of playing.

Watch Barbara Olinger, MSW's video on Toddler attention span...


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Barbara Olinger, MSW

Parenting Consultant

Barbara Olinger has her master's degree in social work and has been working with children and families in both therapeutic and educational settings for over 30 years. She is currently Director of Family Development at the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside and has a private practice focusing on parenting education and teacher training.  She is the author of the parenting book, Growing From the Roots: A Practical Guide to the Art of Parenting, now on DVD along with Welcoming Your Second Child. She has two sons, ages 23 and 20 years old.  

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