Fidgets are all the rage, especially the spinner fidgets which stores are finding hard to keep in stock. Sometimes finding objects to occupy children’s hands, especially kids with ADHD, can actually improve their concentration at school.
Children with ADHD often engage in excessive motor activity, which in turn can impair his or her ability to participate effectively, listen, attend to information, or problem solve. Fidgets are objects that allow children who are restless or fidgety to have the freedom to release excess energy in an appropriate manner. They are usually helpful in situations in which the child must exercise a level of restraint, such as during long car rides, church, or in the classroom. Fidgets help keep hands occupied and help the child to learn to self-regulate when feeling restless.
A common concern expressed by parents and teachers is that a child may be more focused on the fidget than what they should be paying attention to (i.e. teacher, church). While this can be true and frustrating, it is a concern that can be addressed through education and creating rules around using the fidgets.
- It is important to educate the child about their ADHD and discuss the purpose of the fidget; this can be accomplished by talking about “the wiggles” he or she experience or using books like “Cory Stories” or “It’s Hard To Be A Verb” to learn about ADHD.
- Parents should explicitly create rules around the fidgets. Rules should include not taunting peers, not hurting others, not throwing, etc. The rules should be reviewed often until the child demonstrates understanding. If your child struggles with the using the fidget appropriately, keep reviewing rules and practicing. A common mistake made when attempting to utilize fidgets is that parents or teachers take the fidgets away indefinitely when they are misused. While this removes the immediate problem, the child does not learn the skill of utilizing a fidget and is ultimately still fidgety.
- Parents should introduce the fidget in a controlled environment (during homework or in the car); this gives the child the ability to practice using the fidget and following the fidget rules as well as decreases some of the novelty prior to introducing to the classroom or other situations in which there is less structure or supervision.
Types of fidgets
There are many types of fidgets to consider. There are chewable options which allow children who are known to chew on non-food items (i.e. pencils, shirt, etc.) the ability to chew, without hurting their teeth.
Many children and parents like the jewelry fidgets as they are inconspicuous and are more difficult to lose. The pencil fidgets are another favorite as they look like erasers, and are therefore discreet as well.
A popular choice right now is the Fidget Spinner; it is small, available in many colors, and again can be inconspicuous.
Regardless of the type of fidget chosen, one of the most important aspects of choosing a fidget is including your child in the choice. The more the child is involved in the process, the more invested they will be in utilizing the fidget appropriately.