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Can fidget toys help with ADHD?

Kid

Parent

Teen

ADHD

Neurodivergence

May 29, 2024

The popularity of fidget toys, like spinners or stress balls, has risen exponentially in the last few years. While it is understandable to think that giving your child a toy would cause them to get distracted at school and at home, neurological studies have shown that fidget toys are a great resource to actually help them stay focused! 

What is ADHD

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that typically appears in early childhood. Children with ADHD may have difficulty compartmentalizing or separating different tasks, thoughts, or emotions from others. When people with ADHD feel overwhelmed, it can cause issues like a lack of focus, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and emotional dysregulation. 

How fidget toys can help your child with ADHD 

Especially in cases where a child has ADHD symptoms, having a fidget can actually allow them to self-regulate in a controlled and constructive way. This means that the fidget is less a toy but rather a tool. You can use these guidelines with the acronym F.I.D.G.E.T. to help you determine if it's a toy vs. tool. 

  • Fist: Fidget toys should not be bigger than your child’s fist, otherwise, they risk becoming a distraction. 
  • Inexpensive: These will get lost easily, so consider what you spend on the toy that will likely need to be replaced.
  • Distraction: Getting fidgets that light up or make noise is more likely to draw your child’s attention away from the task they need to be focused on and will cause others in the class to be distracted as well. Keep them invisible and inaudible if possible.
  • Get things done: If your fidget is preventing your child from staying focused, meeting expectations, or getting classwork done, it is likely that that particular toy is not right for them. That does not mean that fidget toys are not good for them, but maybe finding something different is the answer. 
  • Expectations: Make sure you communicate the expectations to your child of what their fidget toy is to be used for and what is not allowed. It’s good to go one step further and check with their teacher to ensure it is classroom-approved. Teachers love that!
  • Tactile: The squishier, bendier, or more rough — the better! Tactile fidgets can provide a sense of control or grounding, which can be helpful when a child is feeling overwhelmed or anxious. 

Encouraging your child to focus is no easy task, so remember to take care of yourself in these more overwhelming moments. Finding support in navigating ADHD can make a huge difference, so reach out to Bend if you need some help.

Need help navigating ADHD or anxiety?

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