My 8-year-old son Chaitanya, like most kids his age, paid little attention as I showed him how to make a paper elephant for what seemed like the hundredth time. I said, “Fold the paper into half, then fold here, and then here.”
As I was talking, he kept looking at everything except at what I was doing. He fidgeted and played with his pencil. I kept pulling his attention back to what we were doing and my constant refrain was, “Pay attention!”
Ultimately, I lost my patience, and moved on to reading a book.
It’s not that Chaitanya is uninterested all the time. He is completely focused when he reads his favorite books, or when he is playing with his Lego blocks. But at other times, asking him to focus is an exercise in frustration.
Now if you think kids with their terribly short attention spans are tough to deal with, consider this. In 2000, the average human attention span was 12 seconds i.e., we could focus on any one particular thing just for 12 seconds before being distracted or allowing our minds to wander. If you think that was terribly low, please note that this number has now fallen to just eight.
When I look back to that time when I lost my patience on Chaitanya and moved onto reading a book, I realize that I was onto a second book in the next five minutes.