Understanding why kids have trouble with focus

Sometimes, just being a kid can make it hard to focus. Other kids laughing when you’re trying to pay attention during class. Friends texting when you’re doing chores. With all the distractions that come with being a kid, it’s common to have trouble concentrating from time to time.

But some kids constantly have trouble staying focused, and it can cause problems in school and in everyday life. 

Maybe their room is always messy because they get distracted when they’re trying to clean up. And people often notice the result first — like a messy room — instead of the behavior that caused it. They may wrongly assume that kids are being lazy or defiant. 

Focus challenges are real. Kids may really want to focus and work hard at it, and still struggle to concentrate on what they’re doing.

Sometimes, kids have trouble focusing because of something that’s going on in their lives, like a fight with a friend or excitement over a party. Going through stressful situations, like a move, a death in the family, or a shift to distance learning, can affect focus, too.

Being hungry can have an impact. The same goes for lack of sleep. When kids are sleep-deprived, they’re easily distracted and more likely to make errors.

But when kids have ongoing trouble with focus, it could be caused by ADHD.

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About the author

About the author

The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.


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