Why do kids fidget?

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Ellen Braaten, PhD

When kids are constantly fiddling and squirming, tapping, and touching things, you may wonder why it’s so hard for them to be relaxed and not move all the time.

Fidgeting is a way to deal with feeling restless or bored. Kids who fidget a lot don’t usually do it on purpose. Fidgeting might help them stay focused when they’re not interested, like during a long lesson or assembly. Or it can help kids deal with other distractions so they can focus on something they are interested in.

There are many reasons kids fidget a lot. Sometimes, it’s out of boredom. But common causes include anxiety, stress, hyperactivity, and attention problems. Kids with ADHD often fidget.

There isn’t much research on fidgeting. But one small study suggests that it’s the body’s way of trying to stay focused. Another suggests it’s just a sign of a wandering mind.

Fidgeting doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. But it can create problems if it bothers other people.

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About the author

About the author

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Ellen Braaten, PhD is a child psychologist, professor, and founding director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) at Massachusetts General Hospital.