Why do kids fidget?

By Amanda Morin

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 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.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Ellen Braaten, PhD is the director of LEAP at Massachusetts General Hospital.