The "Attention Engine": 8 Self-Monitoring Mantras to Help Your Kid Be Alert & Prepared to Learn! by Dr. Lynne Kenney
Children love learning about how their brains work. When you provide direct instruction to children ages 6-12 about the cognitive skills in their brains and how to know what skill is needed when, they are more engaged in learning as they feel empowered. One skill you can teach children is how to activate their “Attention Engine” to become alert, focused and ready to learn. Once you begin to talk with a child about their ability to be their brain’s “best coach” to turn up their attention, they can use the self-monitoring mantras below to enhance their self-awareness and practice calling their focused attention into action.
Print out these mantras and go through them one at a time, perhaps not all at once, in order to gently teach your child that in their brains they have an attention engine. With mantras, they can activate their focus when they need to learn or attend. Simply improving a child’s awareness of their personal power to become alert is the beginning of a transformation to a more skillful child who understands they have the ability to choose to be alert, in moments, when needed.
- I notice that I am moving or fidgeting.
- I take a deep breath so I can focus on what is important.
- I make the decision to sit up straight, so my brain can think well.
- I make a decision to fold my hands in my lap, telling myself, I am peaceful, alert and focused.
- I breathe in and out slowly.
- I feel calm and alert.
- I compliment myself for the few moments I focused my attention with intent.
- I help my brain use its cognitive skills to be ready to learn.
For many children, their cognitive skills are a mystery. When you begin to teach that executive functions are cognitive skills and cognitive skills can be learned, the child goes from feeling confused to feeling empowered. Let your child write his own mantras that he can carry with him.