Distractibility:

A Characteristic of Temperament

Hyperfocused, low sensitivity
Easily distracted, high sensitivity 

What does this mean? 

Distractibility is how easily a child becomes distracted when they are trying to focus.

You can think of this as a type of sensitivity to things in the environment or internal feelings.

What does this look like?

Some children can become so focused on an activity they forget to use the bathroom or eat for hours. These children are less sensitive and can more easily block out potential distractions.

Other children are easily distracted, making it difficult to focus and complete activities. These children are highly sensitive, so things in the outside world (like hearing someone talking) or their internal feelings (like hunger or frustration) distract them easily. 

How can I help?

Children who become hyperfocused may need to set timers or have caregivers intervene so they can move on to other tasks.

Easily distracted children focus better when distractions are limited. Some things that can help:

  • Turn off the TV, tablet or cell phone.
  • Avoid other conversations.
  • Make sure children have a snack before starting a task that requires focus.