Trouble with focus can affect kids in lots of ways in and out of school. It can even be little things that other people might not even notice. Here are five common distractions for kids who struggle with focus and concentration.
1. Things they pick up or touch
Some kids who struggle with focus are hyperactive, too. Kids might pick things up all the time and fidget with them without even knowing they’re doing it. Giving kids an “approved” fidget like a stress ball can help them cope with this distraction.
See more examples of fidgets for kids.
2. The phone ringing
Kids might have a hard time figuring out what information to tune into and what information to tune out. This isn’t a choice. The part of the brain that filters information may be smaller in kids who have focus issues due to ADHD. Turning the ringer down on the phone or putting the phone in a different room when your child has to concentrate can reduce the distraction.
3. Itchy clothes
Some kids with focus issues also have trouble with sensory processing, which means their brains react differently to sounds, sights, touch and other sensory information. Kids who are sensitive to touch can be bothered by the way something feels on their skin, like itchy socks. They can become focused on that itchy feeling, which can distract them from other things. Buying soft clothes and removing tags can help. Another simple calming technique is to turn down the lights in a room so it’s not as bright.
4. Someone walking past the door
When kids with focus issues see movement out of the corner of their eye, it’s hard for them to ignore it. Finding a place for your child to sit that’s away from windows or other high-traffic areas can help them stay focused on what they’re doing, whether it’s studying for a test or playing a board game.
5. Their own thoughts
Kids with focus issues aren’t just distracted by the outside world. They’re easily distracted by their own thoughts, too, and may often end up daydreaming. Checking in with kids to make sure they understand what they’re supposed to be doing and breaking tasks into shorter chunks can keep them focused on the task at hand. Playing music and using timers could also help kids “stay present.”
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.