Often, a child who has ADHD is seen as difficult to manage. They can need extra attention in the classroom, have trouble getting the grades that their parents know they are capable of and may have trouble completing basic tasks such as chores. This can make them frustrating to live with and teach and can lead to them feeling as if they’re constantly yelled at by the adults around them.
There are a variety of ways, however, to work with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, so that they feel like they’re strong and capable of completing tasks assigned to them. These children respond exceedingly well to play, and there are a wide variety of toys and games that work especially well for them.
ADHD Through The Eyes Of A Child
As a child with ADHD, life is full of being “managed”. Parents are consistently coming up with strategies to handle them while working through family therapy. Teachers or other students may spend their time yelling at them to pay attention.
A student may find themselves anxious about their lack of organization, in trouble in the classroom over forgotten documents, and consistently feeling a sense of shame, embarrassment, and failure.
This can continue throughout their entire school career as they attempt to work through one grade at a time, and even into college and adulthood.
Play As A Therapeutic Tool For A Child With ADHD
There are quite a few things that a child with ADHD can learn from play, even if it looks like they’re ‘just playing’. Children can learn to take turns, how to follow the rules of a game, how to start and finish a game, and more. All of these skills will be important for them throughout their lives and can be learned through play.
1. Active Games: Many active games such as Simon says, tag, red light green light, and other games that require children to run around and get their heart rate up and their energy out can be of great benefit for those with ADHD.
It helps them burn off the excess energy that they’re feeling in their bodies so that they can focus their mind on the task at hand. The physical activity helps calm the brains of individuals with ADHD, allowing them to focus.
2. Memory Work: Games that require memory work are a good way to help children focus, as well. First on the rules of the game itself as they learn to play.
Then, you can use the game to teach them other things that they need to memorize, such as math facts, vocabulary words and definitions, spelling words, and more.
3. Outdoor Play: Outdoor play is typically very well received by children with ADHD, and the distractions allow their brains the release they need to be able to better focus on more complicated tasks later in the day.
This play can be as simple as a nature walk, or as complex as an organized game with their peers. Either way, as long as the weather is appropriate, it’s a good idea for your children to get outdoors to play.
How Parents Can Play With Their Children For Impressive Attention And Social Gains
Often, children with ADHD lack social skills. They may struggle to take turns in conversations, have trouble making friends, or have difficulty forming long-term social relationships.
However, parents can help their children learn the emotional skills that they need by playing with them in ways that target emotional learning.
1. Read Books About Emotions: One way that you can help your child learn about human emotion and develop emotional intelligence is to read books that are specifically written with this topic in mind.
They’ll enjoy being read to, and they can learn about a cast of characters that feels and behaves as they do. Good suggestions include Anne of Green Gables, Junie B. Jones, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
These stories feature characters who your ADHD child can identify with, and their antics are sure to keep your children interested.
2. Charades: The simple game of charades can help children learn to identify emotions on others faces, and can help them picture what emotion looks like on another’s face.
Acting games are a great way for children with ADHD to learn what emotion looks like. Some children with ADHD have difficulty with emotional empathy, so this type of game can help them learn to picture what these emotions look like on a human face (as opposed to a cartoon) so that they can also learn to respond appropriately.
3. Watch Shows And Movies About Emotions: Watch children’s shows and movies about emotions, then discuss them with your child. Ask them how they feel, and how they think the characters feel at certain parts of the movie or show.
This will help them learn to identify, again, what emotion looks like so that they can begin to empathize with an individual feeling.
The Power Of Pretend Play For Children With ADHD
Children with ADHD benefit greatly from pretend play. It’s a good way to help them master new skills, practice communication, and work out their differences. Children can do the following as they pretend:
1. Practice New Skills In A Safe Environment: Pretend play, whether it’s kitchen play, dress up play, or playing house, allows children to practice new emotional skills in a safe environment. They can practice negotiations with their friends and classmates, work out a hierarchy of communication, and form peer groups.
2. Puppets And Pretend Play: Puppets are another wonderful way for children with ADHD to act out emotions, share how they are feeling, and work through difficult or complicated situations with their teachers or parents. These can be especially useful if a child is reluctant to talk about a difficult situation.
3. Older Children And Pretend Play: Older children can work through the emotions triggered by ADHD through Role Playing Games such as Pathfinder, or online MMORPGs. Some of these games require building groups in person, meeting every week, and assuming alter identities, such as those of wizards and gnomes.
There’s a great deal of pretending, strategizing, and social negotiation required. The online versions of these games require the same but using computer networks. Either way, teenagers can build close relationships and develop social skills.
Encouraging Follow Through And Task Completion Through Play
Children who have ADHD frequently struggle with following through on their activities and completing tasks that they are set to. There are ways, however, to encourage follow through and task completion through play.
Using these methods, instead of standing over them nagging them to complete a task, parents and teachers can be encouraging them through fun activities. Board games are great for encouraging task completion and follow through.
1. Repeated Practice: Board games provide repeated practice of the same rules and steps over and over. Each person takes turns with the same process, repeats it, and goes through it over and over until the game is over. This can be great practice for a person with ADHD, as long as the game is exciting enough to hold their attention.
2. Stick With An Activity: Board games also teach children with ADHD the importance of sticking with an activity, even if it’s not their favorite. They may have a team relying on them, or they may have other players relying on them to complete the game. Either way, a game makes the importance of completing the entire game very obvious to the child.
3. Finish An Activity Once You’ve Started: Board games also make it very obvious that each player is important, including the child with ADHD. This emphasizes the importance of finishing an activity once you’ve started to the child and helps them see that completion is important.
Suitable Toys And games For Children With ADHD
If you live with a child with ADHD or work with children with ADHD, it’s important to have suitable toys and games on hand to keep little hands and bodies occupied at all times.
Otherwise, you very quickly wind up with distracted minds, and distracted minds don’t produce the best possible work.
Choosing suitable toys and games for children with ADHD doesn’t have to be difficult, however. Their brains often lean toward the creative and artistic, as well as the movement related.
So if you start with these types of activities in mind, you’ve already got a great head start. However, we’d like to offer you a list of ideas for selecting toys and games for children with ADHD.
- Simple Toys: Balls, Jump Ropes, Jack Sets
- Fidget Toys: Cube Fidgets, Fidget Spinners, Thinking Putty
- Outdoor Toys: Trampolines, Sandboxes, Water Tables, Swingsets
- Building Blocks: Wooden building Blocks, Lego Bricks, Lincoln Logs
- Board Games: Operation, Sorry, Exploding Kittens, Uno, Monopoly
- Pretend Play Sets: Doctor Sets, Kitchen Sets, Play Food, Shopping Sets
- Crafting Sets: Beading Kits, Sticker Kits, Art Sets, Paints, Pastels, Crayons
- Sensory Toys: Slime, Kinetic Sand, Silly Putty, Play-Doh
Benefits Of Sensory Toys
Sensory toys can be especially helpful for children with ADHD to use either as they learn, or as a break between learning activities. These toys help the child learn to experience a variety of sensations, and as many children who have ADHD also experience sensory processing disorders, this is a large advantage.
Also, these children also learn well when they’re allowed to use more than one of their senses to take in the information. So a child who’s having difficulty learning their alphabet by reading alone, for example, may be able to learn it far more easily if they are guided to write it on the table in shaving cream.
Sensory toys and fidget toys have the same effect for children with ADHD, allowing them to focus more intently on what they’re learning while they are learning it.
Overall, toys can be quite helpful to children with ADHD as they grow, allowing them to focus on developing and expressing their emotions as they grow.
Depending on the toy or game, children can also learn emotional intelligence, task completion, focus, and even more crucial life skills.
With the right toys and the proper education and management, children with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms quite effectively.