Boys, Commonly Distracted (Girls, too)




A couple of moms wrote awhile back, asking me about their daydreamers:

My 8yo is very booksmart, reads constantly, retains info really well, etc. etc. etc. but has focus problems. By that I mean, in one ear out the other, most of the time. If I ask him to run upstairs to get a towel, he will immediately say yes ma’am and run upstairs, only to call down from the top asking, “what was I supposed to get?”

OR, knowing his math concepts forward and backwards, he will still miss 12 on a 25-problem lesson (seriously! often!) because he - instead of+, or wrote the wrong numbers down, or did the same problem twice, or totally left out a problem. Hardly ever is it an actual “math” problem, just careless.

OR practicing his violin, I will ask him to watch his left hand while he plays a certain part of a song, and he will look at it for 2 seconds then start staring off into space again.

When I call his attention to these things, he looks almost startled, and seems to want to obey. Is this boy? Is this 8-year-old? He is my oldest, and bless his heart, does he have to bear the brunt of my not having anything to compare him to! It is so much easier with my next two boys, because I remember how hard things were for #1 at their ages, and I am more patient. But I very often “lose it” with #1, because I know he can do better, I know these things aren’t truly hard for him, he’s just not paying attention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t want to steal the joy of his childhood, or push him too hard, but goodness, I am terrified of raising a brilliant man who has no focus or discipline to apply his gifts to any purpose. I see so many preteens and teens who can not be given a task and be expected to follow through with diligence. I am afraid that if I don’t keep at it now, my boys will be there, and it seems so much harder to start teaching diligence at 13!

Whew. Can you tell we’ve spent a lot of time together today, he and I ? :0)


Mine is similar to Kathleen’s question. I have an 8 yr old girl, 6 yr old boy and 3 yr old boy. My question is on how do I teach my 6 yr old boy to focus better. Our main problem is not so much is school work, but in completing his chores on time in the mornings. I read Managers of the their Chores by Titus2, and have created chore cards for each child. My daughter quickly does her chores in the morning. My 6 yr old son is constantly being distracted by anything!! (Books, toys, little brother, trash truck outside ect.) He has been doing the same morning chores for over a year, so he is trained and can do them. But, I feel like I have to constantly keep him on task. He is so full of joy and I feel like I am robbing him of his joy by the time we finish chores and it is only 8:30 in the morning!! Any suggestions would be so helpful.


Take a deep breath, moms.  What you're describing is completely normal for the ages of your boys.  But like you, I wasn't prepared to deal with such distraction and it drove me to push my firstborn beyond what I should have.  What I know now is that while we maintain a goal and a standard of focused work, getting there is an often slow progression.

It's helpful to point it out to them with kindness.  "Son, we really need to work on getting you to focus".  Then make some tangible goals- reward a half-hour of concentrated violin practice with something attractive to him.

Right now we happen to have a young one in our home who just can't sit still or keep her mouth from moving.  We've told her that she doesn't have the privilege to talk during meals until she can conquer her constant habit of interrupting others.  She also has to stay by my side for the majority of the day. She'll earn back talking during meals one meal at a time, and she'll earn back freedoms as she can handle them.

Little by little, precept upon precept, small victory after small victory. These young ones will learn much by what we model, too, so be a diligent mom yourself!