Skip to content

ADHD and boredom

By Peg Rosen

Related topics

Boredom isn’t a symptom of ADHD . It’s a common result, though. Kids and adults with ADHD need more stimulation than most people. Not having it can lead to behavior that’s confusing and challenging.

Here’s an example: Clay, a grade-schooler, keeps disrupting the class. The teacher sends him to the principal’s office, where Clay says “it’s stupid to just sit there” in class. This might mean: “To sit still and stay focused, I need something really interesting to do.”

Most kids can stick it out until class ends or the teacher moves on to a new subject. But kids with ADHD often can’t. When boredom sinks in, they might have trouble with self-control. Or they might seek out attention in inappropriate ways.

Boredom doesn’t just happen when kids need to do things that they don’t find interesting, either. Kids with ADHD often say they’re bored even when they’re free to do what they want. 

Related topics

The situations are different for adults, but the challenge is the same. Adults might take out their phone and send texts during a presentation. Or they might start an argument or a debate if a conversation is too dull.

People with ADHD don’t mean to be annoying or rude when they behave this way. They just can struggle to find ways to keep themselves from being bored.

Dive deeper

Boredom and the ADHD brain

Many people with ADHD constantly seek stimulation. This isn’t just a personality trait. Research suggests this happens because of the structure and chemical makeup of the ADHD brain.

The parts of the brain that help people stay focused and not get bored are “underaroused.” They don’t fire as efficiently as those of other people. The brain may also not properly activate certain chemicals that make activities satisfying. So people feel less encouraged to stay focused.

There’s another factor at play. People with ADHD have trouble with skills called executive function. They often brim with exciting ideas but struggle with the planning, organizing, and problem-solving skills to do them. 

Learn more about ADHD and the brain .

Next steps

Kids with ADHD may be able to get accommodations in class to help them stay focused. To get these supports, parents can request an evaluation at school. Adults may also be able to get accommodations at work .

A quick way for people with ADHD to get stimulation is to use a fidget . It can be anything from a stress ball to an infinity cube to pipe cleaners — something that keeps their hands busy.

Also, people with ADHD tend to be much more focused on things that really interest them. Kids are less likely to be bored doing reports on topics they’re fascinated by.

Adults are more likely to be engaged at work if their job plays to their strengths. Discover career paths for teens and adults who get bored sitting still.

Tell us what interests you

Tell us what interests you

Select the topics you want to learn more about

Share

Did you know we have a community app for parents?

Download Wunder on the App Store

Share ADHD and boredom

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom

Share ADHD and boredom

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom