My daughter is so easily distracted. I can relate because I’m the same way. It has nothing to do with social media or being overly stimulated, distraction is just in our genes! Over the years I’ve learned how to stay focused and finish things to completion before moving on to something else, and now I’m teaching Ayva how to do the same thing.
There are all sorts of reasons that a kid might be distracted. Too many options of things to do is one reason. They also might just be predisposed to it. Outgoing, extroverted kids like my daughter often have a lot of varied friends and interests, and keeping all of those things in order can be tough. Some kids are big daydreamers, or super curious about everything around them. Staying focused on the task at hand is often hard for these kids.
Instead of yelling all the time, or getting mad that I had to tell my daughter to put her socks and shoes on for the tenth time because OMG WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING UPSTAIRS ALL THIS TIME, I did something different. I started parenting to who she is, rather than what I want. If your child is distracted, there’s hope. You can help them focus with these easy tips.
1. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
As annoying as it is to repeat yourself, distracted kids need to frequently be reminded to stay on task. There have been times when I have given my daughter instructions and less than 10 seconds later, she’s doing something completely different. I’d say, “Ayva, you’re supposed to be taking your bag upstairs.” Her reaction always shows me that she completely forgot. Yes, just that quick! Instead of getting upset, I repeat the instruction, and she follows through.
2. Write it out.
Ayva knows what she’s supposed to do every morning when she wakes up. There are still some mornings when she ends up doing something completely unrelated to getting ready for school. We started making a list on a whiteboard that she can cross off as they are done. The visual cue has been a great tool in helping her to get ready in the morning. When you make your list, don’t take for granted that your distracted child will do anything. We put everything from brush your teeth to eat breakfast on the whiteboard.
3. Use timers.
Ayva and I drive my husband crazy with the amount of timers we use. We will set a timer for anything! They’re a great support for distracted kids. It helps them stay focused because they know they have a finite time to get something done, and it’s also a challenge. Racing against the clock seems to put blinders on Ayva, and she’s able to see her task to completion.
4. Create a game plan.
My husband takes Ayva to school, and they need to leave out of the house promptly at 7:15. After a few days of leaving late, we realized we needed to show Ayva how to work faster in the morning. She would get everything on her list done, but she didn’t know how to do it efficiently. She’d be eating breakfast in the kitchen, then have to go back upstairs to get socks and shoes. We created a flight plan so she wasn’t wasting time with all the back and forth. Now, once she’s downstairs for breakfast, she’s done upstairs and they can get out of the door on time.
The number one thing to remember about parenting a distracted child is to be patient. Your kid is just being who they are. With your help, they can learn how to focus and get things done in their life.