in this article we discuss the development of voluntary attention based on historical-cultural psychology, aiming at a new understanding of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd). this goes against the hegemonic conceptions regarding the problem, understood as caused by dysfunction in one′s organism. in this work we first make an exposition of this predominant ideas on the subject, detaching data regarding the medicine sales to deal with cases of adhd and problems related to the its diagnosis. later we present the understanding of human development in historical-cultural psychology, emphasizing the development of the voluntary attention, and the possibilities of overcoming the hegemonic conception of adhd. we conclude that the employed theoretical perspective makes possible not only a new way to look at problems of attention deficit and hyperactive behaviors, but also proposes new practices capable of promoting attention development.