How to Educate Children Who Are Easily Distracted

Clear and brief instructions help children who are easily distracted understand and be organized. They should solve their tasks gradually.
How to Educate Children Who Are Easily Distracted
Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 03 May, 2023

Nowadays, it’s a challenge to devote sustained attention to a subject. We’re permanently exposed to different stimuli, some of which are very striking. This happens to all of us, but perhaps it’s more complex in the case of children when it comes to concentrating, studying, or solving an activity. In the following article, we’ll offer you some keys to educating children who are easily distracted.

Keys to educating children who are easily distracted

Below, you’ll find some of the recommendations to keep in mind in order to accompany the education of children who are easily distracted.

About organization

Some recommendations on how to organize activities for children who are easily distracted are the following:

  • Establish routines: It’s important that you try to maintain some stable schedules and activities. This way, the child will be able to acquire habits and stay within a certain organization.
  • Learn to identify what things they pay attention to: Recognize what stimuli are interesting to them. In this regard, if they’re usually interested in sounds, you can look for strategies that prioritize them in order to capture their attention and make what you want to transmit attractive to them.
  • Make brief requests with clear instructions: When you want to ask your child for something, you should do it with specific, concise messages and incorporate information gradually. This way, they’re less likely to become distracted.
  • Find support methods to help them remember their activities: According to your child’s age, together you can choose ways that will serve as triggers. For example, making notes on a whiteboard, keeping an agenda, or setting alarms, among others.
  • Prioritize tasks: As their attention may be more scattered, it’s essential that your child begins to solve tasks from the most complex to the simplest. In other words, they should start with whatever task demands more effort and then move on to those that demand less attention. This way, when they start to get distracted, they’ll have already finished what’s most important.
Children talking during class.
It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, it’s not simply a matter of distraction. Also, there may be a disorder, such as Attention Deficit Disorder.

About the environment and rest

Write down some recommendations on how to arrange their space.

  • Provide an environment that’s free of constant stimulation. For example, if your child has to do homework, it’s important that they can do it in a place without distractions. This should be a place where there’s no traffic and where there’s no television or video games.
  • Make sure they take breaks. Between homework, it’s important that children who are easily distracted can find a few minutes to take a break. Whether it’s to move around a bit, eat a snack, or go to the bathroom, among others. This is a way to disconnect to reconnect later.

Finally, keep in mind that there may be some other underlying situation, such as Attention Deficit Disorder. In this case, it’s good to observe the child’s behavior over time and consult a professional if there are doubts. This way, you’ll also be able to provide an intervention according to what the child needs.

Review your own role as an educator

In addition to pointing out the recommendations for accompanying a distracted child, it’s important that you rethink your role as a guide. On the one hand, children’s attention depends on their age and maturity. In this regard, you should also be aware of the complexity of the requests you make of them and the type of expectations you have of them. Sometimes, their distraction is due to the fact that they’re not able to understand a request or what you point out to them.

In turn, you can observe their behavior and ask yourself some questions: Are they always distracted? Is it the same in all situations or only in a certain class? Is it possible that a particular situation affects them? Also, you should avoid being the source of interruptions. For example, when they’re doing their homework, avoid asking them to go tidy up their room or take a bath. Even if you indicate that they can do it later, in their head, there’s already a distraction.

Finally, being a good example of attention and concentration also helps. If your children are talking to you, then be a proactive and exclusive listener. Avoid using your cell phone or having them follow you around the house to tell you something while you’re multitasking. In this way, you also help them to focus and solve a task from start to finish.

You may be interested in: 10 Study Tips for Children with ADHD

A child daydreaming during class.
Just because a child is distractible doesn’t mean they can’t do things on their own. Sometimes, we focus on that aspect and neglect their skills.

Don’t let the child’s distractibility be the focus of attention

Many times, we make the mistake of focusing too much on the child’s difficulty and lose sight of all their strengths. It’s simply a matter of helping them channel their attention and to adapt to the way they work.

We must also avoid overprotection and resolving their issues for them. Rather, we need to take the time to strengthen their commitment and responsibility. Finally, just because a child is distractible doesn’t mean that they’ll be distractible forever. Surely, with the right help, they’ll be able to overcome it. So, avoid phrases like “Not you, because you get distracted” or “I don’t ask you because you always forget”, among others.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Rusca-Jordán, F., & Cortez-Vergara, C. (2020). Trastorno por déficit de atención con hiperactividad (TDAH) en niños y adolescentes. Una revisión clínica. Revista de Neuro-Psiquiatría83(3), 148-156.
  • Balbuena, Paco. (2016). La elevada prevalencia del TDAH: posibles causas y repercusiones socioeducativas. Psicología Educativa. 22. 10.1016/j.pse.2015.12.002.
  • Bilbao, Alvaro (2015) El cerebro del niño explicado a los padres. Plataforma Actual.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.