Skip to content

Understanding why kids have trouble with focus

By Understood Team

Related topics

This article is part of

Take N.O.T.E.

A simple, step-by-step tool to help you figure out if the struggles you’re seeing might be signs of a learning and thinking difference

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 .

Dive deeper

Signs of ADHD

Ongoing trouble with focus is a key sign of ADHD. It can show up in many ways and change over time. Kids might have a hard time:

  • Knowing when to focus on small details and when to focus on the bigger picture

  • Holding a train of thought when they’re interrupted

  • Concentrating on one activity at a time

  • Following directions

  • Keeping up in conversation

Learn about signs of ADHD in grade school , middle school , and high school .

When kids hyperfocus

Some kids who struggle with focus may  look like they’re daydreaming . Others may get super focused on things they’re passionate about. That could be playing sports or video games, following politics, or reading books about animals.

How does that happen? Find out why some kids with focus challenges can sometimes be hyperfocused .

Next steps

The best way to help kids who struggle with focus is for families, teachers, and medical professionals to share information and work together. Share notes on what you see, and look for patterns .

Parents and caregivers: Get tips on talking with your child about trouble with focus

Educators: Check out this teacher guide for talking with parents about difficult topics like focus challenges.

Related topics

Focus and attention

Tell us what interests you

See your recommendations

Tell us what interests you

Select the topics you want to learn more about

See your recommendations

Share

Did you know we have a community app for parents?

Download Wunder on the App Store

Share Understanding why kids have trouble with focus

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

Share Understanding why kids have trouble with focus

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