Is there a way to prevent a parent container from scrolling when a child node is focused?


Situation: there is a fixed-height parent div with overflow: auto and enough child "line-item" divs of sufficient height to trigger the presence of scrollbars. Each of these child divs has tabindex=-1 so can be programmatically focused.

When any of these child divs is programmatically focused, the default behavior of the browser (in this case, Chrome 55) seems to be to scroll the parent div to center the newly-focused child. Is there any way to prevent this behavior?

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| javascript   | html   | focus   | dom-events   2017-01-04 01:01 1 Answers

Answers ( 1 )

  1. 2017-01-04 02:01

    Yes and no. There is not a way to prevent the parent element from scrolling to the focused element (that I know of). However, you can undo the scrolling by scrolling the parent element back to the top. Done correctly, it won't be noticeable to the user.

    To do this, anytime you programmatically focus an element, retrieve the current scroll offset of the focused element's parent node and set scrollTop to that offset.

    var children = document.getElementsByClassName('child')
    for (var i = 0; i < children.length; i++) {
      children[i].addEventListener('click', function (e) {
        var focused = document.getElementById('focus')
        var focusedParent = focused.parentNode
        var savedOffset = focusedParent.scrollTop
        focused.parentNode.scrollTop = savedOffset;
    .parent {
      height: 300px;
      overflow: auto;
    .child {
      height: 50px;
      background-color: gray;
      border-bottom: 1px solid black;
      color: white;
      box-sizing: border-box;
      text-align: center;
      line-height: 50px;
      font-family: Arial;
    <div class="parent">
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">1</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">2</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">3</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">4</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">5</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">6</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">7</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">8</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1" id="focus">9</div>
      <div class="child" tabIndex="-1">10</div>

    Here's the working demo on Codepen.

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