Focus. It's not something anyone with a willful child is used to seeing. I've noticed when my ASD son is focused, you know its something he thoroughly enjoys as he loses himself for hours in his favorite tasks… nothing else matters. Breaking that concentration is impossible. If there is something he doesn't have an intense interest in… getting him to focus is near impossible and will not happen without a fight.
This post is a guest post, written by a personal friend who navigates her strong-willed son's focus troubles with as many natural tools as possible.
What do you do when your child insists on throwing a fit because s/he can't focus?
Most people break down when their child is struggling and resort to yelling, which just ends up failing miserably while making the situation so much more stressful for both the parents and children. You yell… Tears pour… Tempers rise… More yelling… Child talks back (yelling)… And you're stuck with the overwhelming feeling to hit because no one is listening. Or perhaps you're tempted to chat with a doctor about the latest pill (you know… the one with the warning on the label not to use it long-term) that you can pop into your child to make him/her mellow out.
Why continue living like that?? It isn't solving anything, and only everything worse… especially as you end up stuck in a repetition of anger, defiance, and the temptation to medicate your child into submission.
It is true…if you keep doing what you've already done, nothing will change.
Just imagine… your wild child actually chilling our (without zoning out) and sitting at the table to complete homework.
Imagine… your child actually mellowing out and capable of holding an actual conversation that doesn't “squirrel” out of control…
Imagine… having that peaceful, loving child back!
Just think for a minute… how awesome would that be??
We found a few ideas that actually help, and want to share them with you now! (And no… we aren't talking about the fad fidget spinner)…
Keep them moving!
Don't expect me to dish out all the science related, but there definitely seems to be a strong connection between being physically active and mentally focused. Children, especially those like my son who are on the spectrum, have difficulty paying attention because their energy levels become so insanely high. When that happens, disruptive behaviors occur. What we've found a lot of success in is to focus less on the fidgeting, and focus more on supporting a productive way to fidget to maximize attention, such as:
- Wrap an exercise band around the legs of a chair, so they can fidget with their legs and feet.
- Give your child items like a stress ball or stretchy toys that they can fidget with, squishing in a hand.
- Have your child sit on a wiggle seat to allow them to exercise their core muscles while sitting at a table or desk. This helps decrease energy outbursts, helping with focus.
Because using a fidget spinner or wiggle seat is MUCH more productive than when my son would stand on the table and dance around classmates' papers and pencils.
Emotions are everything, especially when dealing with a strong-willed child. Everything they do, see, think, smell, hear, taste, or touch prompts an emotional response that can range vastly in type of emotion and the emotion's intensity. Supporting your child with those emotions is imperative when it comes to helping them focus.
Helping your child feel supported instead of ostracized or inadequate will only reap rewards for both you and your child. Remember, as frustrating as they can be, they are just as frustrated and especially susceptible to emotional trauma, which can resurface at anytime throughout his or her life, causing a variety of secondary mental and physical issues causing a whole new cycle of frustrations and stress. If you haven't read my post about supporting your child's emotions, please take some time to do so.
Helping your child understand and cope with their emotions has more to do with their ability to focus than most would think.
Making your child angry and frustrated by inflicting unpleasantness during learning times will only make them resent learning, especially that topic. Instead, try helping to support your child through all they endure. Essential oils play a HUGE role in that.
Use essential oils!
I was skeptical at first, until my friend Nicole had me try them in our home for a week to see what I thought. I was totally blown away by how well they helped not just my son, but me too. Essential oils have some incredible soothing properties that work wonders on emotions, boosting energy, and chilling out.
** Please note, if your child is on medication, please be cautious and know if there are any medication contraindications.
These are some of our go-to helpers:
Frankincense helps you and your child feel more emotionally centered. When emotions are not out of control, you and your child are able to focus and concentrate more efficiently. Frankincense also is uplifting and mood balancing.
Vetiver essential oil is grounding, calming, and stabilizing. It helps you and your child cope with stress, and recover from emotional upsets. Vetiver was researched and found to be fantastic to help improve focus, reaction time, and performance during visual discrimination tests (critical skills for reading, writing, learning, and social skills). Just a drop with some carrier oil and place on your child's big toes and see the difference!
Cedarwood essential oil is known for calming. It's great to diffuse in the evenings with lavender and vetiver to help relax. It can also be used during the day to help your child relax, enabling him or her to focus better.
Balsam Fir essential oil is very grounding and relaxing. It helps with those affected by different seasons… stimulates the immune system, creating an increase a sense of well-being… and stimulates the mind from fatigue.
Angelica essential oil has soothing qualities that help relax your child's nerves and muscles. It helps restore happy memories and peacefulness. It also can encourage appetite, which is HUGE with picky eaters!
Basil essential oil is said to boost the “third energy point,” which leads to an increased thought clarity and improved mental concentration.
Rosemary essential oil has been backed by scientific research also show that rosemary can boost memory by 75%.
Peppermint essential oil is known to enhance mental clarity, boost energy, and help focus. Plus it is great for soothing digestion so that isn't destroying attention spans too.
** PLEASE NOTE ** Don't be fooled by clever marketing. Not all essential oils are created equally. Make sure you're not wasting your money on fake or altered essential oils (even if they're labeled as “pure essential oil”). Don't miss our explosive report outlining the dirty little secrets of the essential oil industry to ensure you're not wasting your money on brands of oils that legally mislead you through deceitful marketing practices.
DIY Essential Oil Blends To Help Focus
The Calm and Focus Essential Oil Blend is made by adding 2 drops each of lavender, cedarwood, and orange with 1 drop each of frankincense and lavender in a 5ml oil bottle, and filling the rest with a carrier oil. You can top it off with a roller top or a regular dropper top. We like using roller tops because it makes it easier to use, especially when our son wants to apply them himself. If you're wanting to drop the oil onto diffusing jewelry, such as a leather bracelet, having a dropper top on top is easier to use. You can also use this recipe in your diffuser too.
The FOCUS essential oil blend is one of our most used blends. It contains 5 drops each of cedarwood, lavender, and vetiver in a 15ml roller bottle topped off with carrier oil and a roller top. Again, if you're wanting to use it on diffusing jewelry or in a diffuser, having a dropper top on top is easier. Or you can drop 3 of each in the diffuser or one of each on diffusing jewlelry from the individual bottles.
Stimulate your child with a sensory blend of basil, lemon, peppermint, and rosemary essential oils. If you decide to use topically, please make sure you dilute. If applying topically, layering these oils is useful. Add a drop with some carrier oil and apply them one at a time, “layering” the next one on top of the previous oil.
But… what if you're just too ragged and overwhelmed to be able to put time and effort into counting each drop… plus needing supplies and bottles to drip drops into and carrier oils and everything else… the whole idea of spending that much of yourself may seem daunting… something better left to your untouched Pinterest board…
As a busy mom, I know all too well about not having the time or patience to DIY much of anything.
I routinely use the blends below to help us, and I know they will help you too with supporting your child to help your child focus.
Pre-Made Essential Oil Blends:
We do use Young Living because of their dedication to quality and transparency allowing us to visit the farms to see the entire planting, weeding, harvesting, bottling, and distilling process for ourselves, plus knowing they outsource their quality control testing at 15 different labs to ensure the oils they provide are up to the standards they set. I LOVE how they have a broad selection of pre-made blends because it takes the pressure off me as the care taker for my family to DIY everything. I love simplifying as much as possible in my life, and these blends are perfect for helping.
Brain Power Essential Oil Blend is a combination of sandalwood, cedarwood, frankincense, melissa, blue cypress, lavender, and helichrysum essential oils. It helps to:
- promote deep concentration
- channel physical energy into mental energy.
- increase clarity
- clears “brain fog” too that often comes from too much toxin exposure.
GenYus Essential Oil Blend is a blend of sacred frankincense, cypress, Cedarwood oil, Melissa, blue spruce, palo santo, galbanum, bergamot, myrrh, sandalwood, geranium, rosewood, ylang ylang, hyssop, black spruce, and rose essential oils, pre-diluted in a base of coconut and sweet almond oil. If we had to choose only one oil blend to keep in our home, GenYus would be it!
- It is designed specifically for helping children focus.
Clarity Essential Oil Blend contains basil, cardamom, rosemary, peppermint, coriander, geranium, bergamot, lemon, ylang ylang, jasmine, chamomile, and palmarosa essential oils. Just as its name implies, it helps to:
- clear your mind
- amplify your child's alertness
- amplify your child's awareness
To use it: Diffuse a few drops, or place on a piece of diffusing jewelry. If you decide to apply topically, dilute and apply on the edges of your child's ears, wrists, neck, forehead, temples, or large toes of his or her feet (vitaflex points for the brain).
Valor Essential Oil Blend contains spruce, rosewood, blue tansy, and frankincense in a base of coconut oil. It helps boost confidence and courage, and balances emotions. Sometimes learning new information or skills can make an autistic child feel especially vulnerable and inadequate. This is an oil we don't leave (or stay in) the house without!
- Provides an extra boost of courage to reduce the “can't” mentality
- Boosts the “let's try this” mentality.
- Helps your child focus at school
- Increases focus during social interactions and while at the store.
- Enhances feeling self-assured
- Increases confidence (especially while in public… which is HUGE)
Grounding essential oil blendcontains white fir, spruce, ylang ylang, pine, cedarwood, angelica, and juniper. It has a stabilizing aroma that makes you and your child feel as though s/he has regained control over emotion induced wildness. Emotional chaos can lead to poor decisions. Grounding helps your child:
- cope with reality (in a positive manner)
- feel in control over emotions
- feel less out of control over life
We love using grounding on my son's wrists (diluted or on a diffusing bracelet).
I personally LOVE wearing diffuser necklaces and occasionally wear diffusing bracelets. You can find my favorite beautiful diffusing jewelry at Drops of Joy. Or check out our guide to diffusing jewelry.
Citrus Fresh Essential Oil Blend contains grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, and spearmint essential oils. Citrus oils provide an uplifting and refreshing aroma that are great for:
- enhancing good moods
- stimulating creativity
Peace and Calming Essential Oil Blend contains tangerine, orange, ylang ylang, patchouli, and blue tansy essential oils. Its uplifting, relaxing, and calming.
- Great for those moments when you need something quick to help your child relax after a stressful study session.
Joy Essential Oil Blend contains bergamot, ylang ylang, geranium, chamomile, lemon, coriander, tangerine, jasmine, palmarosa, and rose.
- It is perfect for anyone dealing with grief or sadness to ward off negative feelings or emotions.
- Reduces doubt, which can trigger undesirable behaviors or energy outbursts
- combats negative emotions that cause undue tension
We regularly use the oil blends I just mentioned because it is so much easier than having to worry about DIY-ing my own blends. Lets face it… with two kids and a military husband who randomly needs to leave… DIY is not always something I am mentally capable of. I'm definitely no Pinterest mom!
YOU can impact how THEY feel
Focusing can be difficult with so much else going on. Energy spurts. Distractions. Memories. Thoughts. How YOU feel and whether YOU are distracted.
Kids, especially those on the spectrum, pick up on so much of what is going on in their environment and are so incredibly sensitive that they are easily overloaded. This leads to emotions, which fuels energy, which distracts from concentrating, and sometimes can be overwhelming enough to cause him or her to drop to the floor, rolling in shrieks, screams, and tears. I cannot explain enough how much mom-guilt this causes me.
What is there to do? Slow down.Supporting your child with his or her emotions, using essential oils, and understanding his or her specific fidgeting needs is a life game changer.
Sometimes just allowing him or her to fidget while they do their school work or reading is sometimes all that is needed to keep that energy at bay can be enough to thwart emotional breakdowns.
Amazing things can be accomplished when you relax too. The DIY and pre-made blends we listed earlier can also help adults with the same purposes. Just because your child is a bit wild (or if you're like me and your child is on the spectrum), doesn't mean you're destined to a life of constant struggles and battles.Amazing things can be accomplished when you relax
It takes time, effort, patience, and perseverance, but I know you can achieve results just like my family is experiencing.
Do you use essential oils to help focus? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!!
Amber is a disabled Navy veteran and mom to two beautiful children… a girl and an autistic boy. She loves the outdoors and is happiest when spending time in nature. she loves her children, but often feels overwhelmed by the struggles that comes from being a military family, especially when her husband deploys. Amber loves helping other moms as she is able to, and hopes this post inspires you to become the best version of yourself and help support your children as naturally as possible. You can find her over on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmbersIntuition
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PPS… here are a few of our favorite books for helping support special needs children: