Fidgets can help some kids with ADHD focus better. They’re not “one size fits all,” however. Different types of fidgets can meet different sensory needs. You can see which work best for your child, and then talk to the teacher about using them in class.
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Calming fidget: Wikki Stix
Sometimes kids with ADHD need help feeling settled so they can sustain their attention. Wikki Stix give kids many ways to do that — kids can bend them, twisting them or molding them into balls. Other calming-fidget options include extra-fuzzy pipe cleaners, plastic nuts and bolts, coiled bracelets or key chains, and weighted lap pads.
Alerting fidget: Klicks
For some kids with ADHD, a little noise, color, or light can actually help with focus. If kids need that kind of stimulation, a fidget like Klicks can keep they busy. They can twist, bend, pull apart, and snap together the colored puzzle pieces. Pop Toobs are another alerting fidget. Spinning tops and color-changing light-up balls can also do the trick.
If your child’s favorite is too disruptive for classrooms, it can just be used at home. It might be helpful to use during study sessions or while listening to an audiobook.
Chewy fidget: Chewelry
Chewelry was designed to help build biting and chewing skills. But it can also help kids who concentrate better when they keep their mouths occupied with something — like a pencil, their nails, or the sleeve of their sweatshirt. Chew Stixx is another example. You can also try chewable pencil toppers and silicone jewelry.
Gum may be just as effective as a chewy fidget, and something older kids may feel less embarrassed about using. You can talk with your child’s teachers about allowing gum during lessons or exams.
Resistance fidget: Silly Putty
This classic toy can be great for kids who focus better when their hands are busy pushing, pulling, or squeezing toys with “give.” Other options for resistance fidgets include kneaded erasers, ponytail holders, stress balls, corks (for picking apart), squishy toys, and magnetic balls or disks.
Tactile fidget: Koosh Balls
Some kids with ADHD find that touching different textures helps them focus. So anything that’s sticky, gooey, slimy, hairy, or scratchy might work. Koosh balls are one example of a tactile fidget. Others include play foam, kinetic sand, rubbery squeeze toys, pop-beads, and Velcro strips.
Popular fidget: Spinners
Some kids with attention or find the weight and motion of whizzing spinners helpful for focusing. Other kids (and their parents and teachers) find the movement and tactile input to be distracting.
Many schools have specific guidelines around fidget spinners, so look into that before permitting your child to bring a spinner to class. And watch a video on how to determine if your child’s latest obsession is a helpful fidget or a distracting toy.
How to manage fidgets: Consider a contract
Before sending your child to school with any fidget, consider crafting a document that sets expectations about what the fidget is for. This downloadable fidget contract can help provide your child with direction on how to use a fidget in an appropriate way.
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About the author
About the author
Lexi Walters Wright is the former Community Manager at Understood. As a writer and editor, she helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.
Keri Wilmot is an occupational therapist who works with children of varying ages and abilities in all areas of pediatrics.