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For Today’s Kids, Distraction is the New Concentration

“I’m lightening on my feet! I’m walking cross the street, yeah yeah!” My middle son belts out, semi-massacring a Taylor Swift song as he head bobs and taps his pencil on the kitchen table.

He’s supposed to be doing his homework.

“I’m doing it!” He practically sneers and for effect writes one of his spelling words ‘demonstrate’ down on his paper. He presses the pencil point over the word a number of times ‘demonstrating’ his point.

I stand corrected. He is doing his homework, just very slowly in between singing songs, dancing, asking random questions and going to the bathroom.

“I’m writing this so neat,” he belts out. “I want something more to eat. Yeah yeah.”

“Can you please stop?” I ask through grated teeth. “Please,” I implore.

But he doesn’t stop and it takes an amazing amount of patience, lost tooth enamel and unnecessary calories consumed in rapid frustrated spoons to the ice cream tub before he finally finishes the homework that I believe could have been completed in half the time if not for the musical interludes.

It crosses my mind, not for the first time, that he’s trying his best to annoy me, but then his older brother saunters in, flips open his loose leaf and starts making weird noises which I believe is him rapping a beat but sounds more like farting of the mouth.

“Baby?” I question, dumbfounded. “What’s with all the annoying noise? I thought you had to study.”

“I am studying,” He says smiling charmingly and then resumes tapping and rapping as he reads.

I try to ignore him but all the noise is completely distracting and I’m just cooking dinner. How do they concentrate with all the feet stomping, singing, tapping and blurting of strange noises? They can’t even seem to sit. They prefer standing around a chair or on the chair, anywhere but in the chair.

I get media multi-tasking. Working and writing at the computer daily, I do it myself. I write a good paragraph, I check Facebook. I send out some queries, I write a text. I know that I am constantly looking for a little distraction at the detriment of my work, which is why I don’t allow my kids near their devices or unnecessary screens while doing homework or studying. But even without all the ‘iSores’, my kids seem to have their own personal distraction mechanism. And no it isn’t me. It’s themselves.

Maybe in this day and age, children’s brains work differently. They are so used to multiple stimuli that they need some distraction to concentrate, even if it’s only with their own brains. I find it really hard to believe, but when I test my son on his upcoming test, he nails it and my other son’s homework is perfectly done as well.

Dinner on the other hand is a little overcooked. Maybe I’m the one not paying attention.

Whatever. I’m just gonna shake it off. Shake it off.

Homework done. Time to put up those feet for some distraction that he can really focus on.

Homework’s done. Now it’s time to really focus.











About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

39 responses »

  1. I don’t believe it is anything new for some learners to need to move/talk/fidget to do their best work. I bet all day long your boys are forced to sit still, be quiet. That must be very taxing on them. I’m not saying the chatter and random sounds won’t be annoying, but they may be more functional than you think.

  2. I’m going to DIE when it’s time to deal with homework. This would all drive me bananas.

  3. My son dances around while he does his homework and it is so irritating. But then again, he’s always dancing around and singing so why would homework be different? I think the being quiet and still thing all day at school is definitely true. When he gets home he’s off the wall.

  4. Fantastic! Isn’t it amazing how they get up and down so many times. I’m always yelling at them at dinner to sit in their chairs not stand with one leg on them!
    One again your essay reads my mind! Love it!

  5. I always moved around when doing homework.

  6. There is something to be said about a child’s need for constant, repetitive and distracting stimuli. But those words shouldn’t be said out loud or posted in a public forum.

  7. Yes. This. My teenager would have chats/music/Tv and all the things on to do his homework. I can’t think unless it’s quiet.

  8. The older I get the less noise I can handle. Oh, youth!

  9. He might be a kinesthetic learner! My son is like that! He fidgets, taps on the table or roams around the house. It sure is annoying though! LOL

  10. My son utilizes similar homework habits. I think he is trying to frustrate me to the point that I volunteer to do the assignment for him if only to get our dining room table back.

  11. My son’s the same – unable to sit at a desk on a chair to do his work, unable to sit still, all the things you describe. And the bathroom trips! He can’t even lie still as he’s falling asleep – it’s all rustle-rustle. Makes family trips interesting. I’m like you; I need total focus, total silence – to sleep, read, cook, drive, even think. All of that gets thrown off with my son around. But there’s a part of it that makes me laugh – and makes me relieved he doesn’t need total silence like I do. Maybe we should look at it as a skill?

  12. I have a girl version of one of these. All energy and noise, then quiet when her headphones go on. Then I recall the arguments I had with my mom when I was doing my homework and listening to a.m. radio at full volume…

  13. I have a cat. I won’t compare her to your sons. 😉

    • Huh, go right ahead. I have a cat who’s prone to whining in the middle of the night like a newborn and totally likes to get in the middle of everything. Read a paper, she’s right on top of it. 🙂

  14. Kids. Sigh. You have the patience of Job.

  15. Same thing here, except mine would pretend not to be doing this when I was around. Liars.

  16. So funny and true

    Sent from my iPhone Alana Sikorski


  17. Strangely, when I was in law school, once I started studying in front of the TV instead of cracking my books in a completely silent room with a singular focus, my grades went up, and pretty dramatically. So maybe there is something to the split focus of today’s kids…

  18. As long as the homework gets done. That’s what I tell myself. 🙂 If the rhythm is good, maybe you should dance along. LOL I bet that would stop them.


    Tooo funny and soooooo true, i could kill them all sometimes


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