A child who gets distracted is very frustrating!  We set them a task and give plenty of time to complete it and yet they find a myriad of other things to do in that time.

Many of the difficulties we have as children will stick with us for life – we just learn strategies to overcome.  As parents we need to give our children these strategies, these tools, to help them now and for the rest of their life.  If our children are easily distracted, what external structure will help?

Here are the tools that have helped my kids stay on track.

1– A routine 

Having set times (roughly speaking) where certain activities are expected helps a child to grow in self-governance.  Whether you are directed by a clock or by a sequence of events if the child knows this sequence they can use it to help them stay on track, they know what is happening in their day.  They know when food is expected, they know when they are to study, to play, and to relax.

2– A timer

I love timers!  Each of my children has a timer and they are expected to use it as they learn self-discipline in any new area. They are allowed half an hour on the computer a day (free and fun time), they use the timer so they don’t abuse this privilege.  They use a timer to pace themselves through their day; their piano practice, their reading time, to remind them to do a chore, etc.  Another reason I like timers is that they make a noise that penetrates my world and I can use their timer to help me check in on them and encourage them to stay on track.

3– A diary or to-do list

I believe in teaching my children to be accountable to a to-do list.  It sits there as their external reminder of the things they need to do.   If the list remains constant some of the daily practices become internal habits but it is okay to be reminded of what needs to be done.  We have lists for morning responsibilities (personal devotions, chores, exercise), independent work (which varies for each child but encompasses the things that need daily drill – music, math, writing, reading)

4– Check points

While our children are learning the skill of self-motivation we need to be their external-motivation.  Creating check-in points in our daily schedule where we follow them up, see how they are doing, keep them on track and possibly even enforce consequences.  I also teach my children to report back when they have completed their one task, be that a household chore or school work.  I become used to expecting them, and if they don’t show up I know they’ve been distracted.  We must understand that if our child doesn’t have a skill, we need to do that for them.  So if they don’t have focus; we must create an environment where they can focus.  They don’t have thoroughness; we must create an environment where they can be thorough.

5– Removing privileges

With responsibility comes privilege and the converse is true.  Without responsibility, there is no privilege.  The trick is that we don’t see the privileges our children have because it is all just our life.  Privileges are the things that aren’t absolutely necessary to their well-being, e.g. Privileges are free play time, computer time, afternoon tea, visiting friends, playing sport…. Privileges will be different in each home, but think this through – what is really a privilege and what is the core basis of your child’s life?  When we make a distinction the privileges can be used as rewards for a job well done.  This is true to real life – I know that I can’t sit and scrapbook until my responsibilities are taken care of.

Further Reading:

Giving Instructions to the Easily Distracted Child: Instead of being frustrated with the easily distracted child take the time to teach them to focus.

Focusing for the Distracted Child:  Focusing is a skill that can be taught; even to an easily distracted child. Some kids need more help than others to learn.

Do you need help in your Family?

Hi! I’m Belinda

About Me

Belinda and her husband, Peter, live in the far north-west of Australia on a small farm. They have four adult children whom they homeschooled from prep-year 12. Over this time Belinda has taught and supported women both face to face and online. Her heart is to encourage families to be intentional, relational and heart focused in all areas of family living. She continues to do this in her new season of life – as her kids leave home one by one leaving her with more time.

Certified Life Coach

Over to you:

Which one of these 5 tools will help your distracted child?

13 Comments

  1. emmasara

    Thanks this is a very important subject 🙂

    Reply
  2. emmasara

    I just gave my 10 year old daughter a small planner that was an extra that I had. She was very excited about it. Let's see if it helps her become more focused 🙂
    http://www.strongquiver.blogspot.com

    Reply
  3. Leanne

    Thanks for your post! I now have a few more ideas for helping my child keep on task — and hopefully with a good attitude. 🙂

    BTW, I think there’s a typo in your post. You said, “Privileges are the things that are absolutely necessary to their well being …”. I don’t think that’s what you meant. 🙂

    Thanks again! I really enjoy your blog and site!

    Reply
    • Belinda Letchford

      Thank you for letting me know that typo! It is amazing how many times you can read something and still miss it. You are right – privileges are not absolutely necessary to our kids well being!

      Reply
  4. Helene

    These look solid and helpful! A timer has been especially helpful at our house!

    Reply
  5. Denyse

    Hi there, I liked your post but as you have linked up an old post it is not compliant with the “new, previously unpublished” post policy on I Blog On Tuesdays. I hope you come back again with a new post as I can see that your topics are of interest. Thank you Denyse #teamIBOT

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Sorry about the Denyse – I am repurposing a lot of my content at the moment from an old blog and I did forget that this one fell into that category. My apologises.

      Reply
  6. Denyse

    Belinda, thank you for letting me know! Re-purposing your blog sounds really interesting! Looking forward to you linking up again too! Warm wishes, Denyse

    Reply
  7. Amanda

    I think anyone who deals with people easily distracted can agree with everything you have here. I realized that I, myself, can be easily distracted…..and my husband is the world’s worst! We have gotten better over the years. I absolutely love to-do lists, and I love handing them out to the kids. To-do lists also helps cut down on my voice being heard through out the day!

    Reply
    • Belinda

      yes, giving a to-do list to our kids really does put the responsibility back onto the child. All we have to do then is ask if they’ve finished their list! Instead of nagging for each task.

      Reply
  8. Ifeoma Samuel

    Hi Belinda,i really benefited from reading this! I like your parenting posts. They would be helpful in getting ideas for our next parents day out!!!!
    Thank you so much
    Blessings to you

    Reply
  9. Kathleen

    I think some of your suggestions will also help ME! Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Belinda

      LOL yes, so true. I struggle to stay on task. So much to do – my kids lovingly call me butterfly brain. I skip – even mid sentence to something that has caught my attention!

      Reply

Let me know your thoughts...

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