This visual illustrates the neurological roots of attention. We tend to see attention through a self-control lens: using will and mental strength to focus and tune out distractions. The trouble is, self-control strategies like reminders and incentives often don’t work. Various brain/body factors affect a child’s (or our own) ability to pay attention, or indeed, use self-control or mental effort. Many are related to the state of arousal a child is in due to various (often hidden) stressors.
Learning to look deeper so we can recognize and address the stress-related neurological roots of attention problems helps us avoid unproductive self-control-based attention strategies that create conflict and drain energy. This opens the door to Self-Reg strategies that can actually help.