How To Help Your Distracted Teen Focus

teen girl sitting on bed typing on computer

teen girl sitting on bed typing on computer

I noticed that my daughter was having a tough time concentrating and realized I needed to find ways to help my distracted teen focus.

Because I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, I was able to recognize signs that she needed a little more support from me.

While my daughter hasn’t been assessed, I see some of the same behaviors in her that I have/had.

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 my teen how to do the same thing.

Teenage Distractions in Life

There are all sorts of reasons that a teen might be distracted.

  1. Too many options (especially with limited practice with making informed choices)
  2. Social media.
  3. Stress from schoolwork or extracurricular activities.
  4. Identity or social challenges.
  5. Overstimulation.

One of the main reasons teens are distracted is that they have so many options and it’s easy to lose focus on one thing because something new and different is right around the corner. 

Teaching your teen how to make informed decisions and choices quickly is a life skill they’ll use forever. 

Some teens also might just be predisposed to be distracted.

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 can be difficult 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 ALL THIS TIME, I did something different.

I started parenting her to who she is, rather than what I wanted.

How To Help A Distracted Teen Focus

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.

READ: Household Chores for Teens

2. Write it out.

My teen 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 brushing your teeth to eating breakfast on the whiteboard.

teen girl writing in notebook looking on phone

3. Use timers.

My daughter and I drive my husband crazy with the number of timers we use.

We will set a timer for anything!

They’re a great support to help our distracted kid focus.

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 my teen, and she’s able to see her task to completion.

4. Create a game plan to help your distracted teen focus.

My husband takes our kids 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 to her room 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 in the kitchen for breakfast, she’s done in her room 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.

What If My Child Still Can’t Focus?

If your teen is still having trouble focusing and completing tasks, you may want to have them assessed to determine if there’s something else going on.

Knowing and understanding why the challenge exists will help you to formulate a plan for success that will truly serve your child.

There is no shame in needing assistance, on your teen’s part or for you.