Many children are struggling to focus and maintain a positive mood in the COVID-19 era of online schooling. One of the most helpful skill sets a child can learn is the ability to control their emotions and sustain attention. Self-regulation skills help children remain calm and attentive, feel confident and optimistic, and think clearly and creatively. The world desperately needs calm, creative minds coming up with sustainable solutions to our problems!

Here’s how your kid can learn self-regulation skills that help with focus, attention, and mood:

1.Learn to breathe slowly and gently, in and out through the nose, and focus on the breath coming in and out through the diaphragm. This type of breathing helps produce calming neurochemicals, and it helps the frontal lobes stay active so you can be logical and reasonable. It helps the body stay out of fight-flight-freeze mode. When breathing quickly through the mouth, the breath stays up in the chest, which produces stress hormones that impair the frontal lobe. You literally become unable to think clearly when you breathe poorly. 

2. Learn to sustain attention on positive thoughts and emotions. Most people tend to be way too focused on what they’re against or what they don’t like. When attention is focused on what you don’t want, guess what you get? MORE of what you don’t want! Energy flows where attention goes. If you want more positive experiences, learn how to sustain your focus and attention on the things you want rather than the things you do not. 

Think of a scene that evokes peace and pleasure. A funny moment, a beloved pet, being out in nature. Now breathe and see how much you can savor the peaceful, pleasurable experience. Feel the emotions and sensations and practice increasing their power and intensity. 

Notice how quickly you get out of whack when you even imagine something you don’t like. Understand that you also have the imaginative power to experience being “in-whack” when you think of wonderful things! Close your eyes and practice imagining and feeling wonderful things while you breathe.

3. Plan a daily treasure hunt. Every day, intend to notice things that make you feel good. Notice the sunset, the funny things your pet does, an act of kindness. When you notice life’s daily treasures, take a few moments to breathe and amplify the positive sensations and emotions. Become an expert at feeling good! As a family, take five minutes at the end of the day and share your daily treasures with one another so it becomes a habit. 

Just three minutes of sustained attention on positive moments can help improve your immune system, enhance the brain’s ability to be logical and creative, balance hormones, improve mood, strengthen your intuitive abilities, and make you more resilient to stressors. Do this three-minute exercise at least three times a day for optimal and sustained benefits.

A few more tips for focus and good mood for those doing online schooling at home:  

  • Use blue-light-blocking glasses. The blue light from computer screens and devices can create problems with cognitive functioning, mood, and sleep.  
  • Download the free computer app f.lux or an app such as Nightshift on devices to help protect eyes from blue light. 
  • Take vitamin D3, magnesium glycinate, zinc, and vitamin B6 to help with immune health and calm focus. If you struggle with anxiety and focus issues, look into taking l-theanine. (This is not medical advice – consult with a qualified health practitioner who understands nutrition and supplementation.)
  • Take frequent breaks to get out in the sunshine and get your bare feet on the earth.  
  • Eat whole food, including lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Minimize processed foods and sugar. 
  • Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of filtered water. (Ex: 150 pounds = 75 ounces)

Focusing on what is good in life and breathing in a healthy way takes some practice, but that’s the best practice you can do to make your life better and make the world a better place.

Lee Ann Foster and her husband Dale founded Neurosource in Cordova in 2004 and helps clients with ADD, Anxiety, Autism, Depression, PTSD, Sleep struggles, Seizure disorders, Stroke Recovery, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). For more information visit or call 901.624.0100.