Trouble Focusing? Tips for Dealing With a Dreamy Child!

Trouble Focusing? Tips for Dealing With a Dreamy Child!

Has your child often been labelled "absent-minded", "forgetful", "scatter-brained" and "dreamy"? Before you pull your hair out in frustration, here are some tips to deal with your dreamy child.

I remember one of my worst Mummy days. Nothing too dramatic, except that I felt so exhausted, by the end of the day, I was ready to sit at a corner and weep. We all have them, these bad Mummy days when we just want to throw up our hands and walk away from the little runts.

Dreaminess in children can be frustrating.

Dreaminess in children can be frustrating.

My bad mummy days are almost always brought on when the little girl is especially dreamy and unfocused. That day, I had had to repeat everything three or four times and pick up everything after her because she kept forgetting.

To put the icing on the cake, her irate teacher stared down her nose at me when I went to pick her up from school and told me “She needs to focus. She will not be able to catch up if she keeps wandering off (her mind, really, not her) like that.”

Yes, I have a dreamy child. She is often lost in her thoughts, scatter-brained about her belongings and has to make a conscious effort to listen in class. While not the worst trait to possess, it can get pretty frustrating for the parent to deal with.

But here are a few things I have realised along the way.

She is trying to process the information

dreamy toddler

Toddlers sometimes are trying to make sense of the world around them by retreating into their own thoughts.

As kids, especially toddlers, their minds are growing exponentially, and a lot of the things that you take for granted are new information to them. Retreating into their own world and reflecting on whatever she has experienced or learnt is one way of making sense of this information.

Sometimes, after breaking out of a reverie, she has many questions she throws at me about something she had seen or read about. This is a good thing because, to me, it shows she has been examining the information and has some things she is not clear about which she wants to clarify.

This also means, her dreaminess could very well be a phase she eventually out-grows.

Keep lessons and activities stimulating

Trouble Focusing? Tips for Dealing With a Dreamy Child!

A cute little Asian girl doing a puzzle in a library.

If my child does not feel particularly stimulated by what is going on around her, she will drift off. At home, I try to engage her in activities that she would be interested in. Identify her interests – it could be music, stories, math puzzles. Each child is different, find out what she enjoys.

Sometimes, it could also be that she is either too far ahead or too far behind in class.

For instance, we are a predominantly English-speaking household. When she first started preschool, she didn’t understand what the Mandarin teacher was teaching, and she would consequently lose interest and drift off.

It is important for the child to keep pace in class. Identify the problem. If it is because she cannot keep up, give her extra lessons. If she is too far ahead, either try to keep whatever out-of-class lessons she has at the same pace of learning in school or speak to the teacher about it.

Persist in teaching her to take responsibility for her belongings


If I had a dollar for every hair clip or bottle she has lost because she “forgot” to bring it with her, I would probably have accumulated a small fortune. Dreamy children often do not have a good sense of their external environment and that causes them to misplace their possessions.

I have so far resisted the urge to clip everything to her clothes. I think it is important to address the problem, which is her inability to be responsible for her personal stuff. What I have done is to exhort her to make sure everything is intact before leaving a place and to allocate a compartment in her bag for everything so it is kept organized.

This has worked with moderate success. Though she lapses occasionally, she has managed to bring back most of her things. (Hurray for small parenting wins!)

Research and history say it’s a good thing!

Einstein and Newton were notoriously "absent-minded"

Einstein and Newton were notoriously “absent-minded”

So apparently, scientists are saying dreamy children could simply be brighter. It could be that your child is using more mental workspace and this usage of this expanded workspace is what results in dreaminess. Also, mind wandering has often lead to famous Eureka! moments in history – think Isaac Newton and the apple or Albert Einstein who were both known to be terribly scatter-brained. We call it being dreamy, the scientists are calling it “creative incubation”. (Take that teacher who looked down your nose while talking about my dreamy child!)

Your (and my) dreamy child could be a genius, or at least, a bright little spark!

So before you tear your hair our with frustration, remember that dreaminess in children is not necessarily a bad thing. Its symptoms can and should be moderated, even as they grow older into adolescence, but failing that, just roll with it!

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Written by

Leigh Fan

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