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Running a group for young kids? When they become distracted, try saying: “Everyone put your hands on your head.”
Children will be surprised enough by these instructions to listen for a moment. It also gives you a moment to “regroup” and decide what to do next. Once all the children have their hands on their heads, they are ready to listen to further instructions.

Many children are easily distracted or excited, especially during group activities. For children who have experienced traumatic stress and homelessness, engaging them and keeping their attention can be even more difficult. Take time to learn about their experiences. Show them that they are important and acknowledge that their behaviors are not intended to upset you. Be creative with how you approach kids and interest them in learning.

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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services