6 types of fidgets for kids with ADHD

Fidgets can be helpful focus tools for some kids with ADHD. Learn about six different types of fidgets and how kids can use them.

Fidgets, or sensory tools, can help some kids with ADHD focus better. But they’re not “one size fits all.” Different types of fidgets can meet different sensory needs. Here’s a list of six different kinds of fidgets kids can try.

1. Calming fidgets

Sometimes kids with ADHD need help feeling settled so they can sustain their attention. A sensory bottle is a calming fidget that is simple and low-cost to make. There are ones you can buy where kids watch the colorful liquid bubbles. Or this can be a DIY project.

Other calming-fidget options include extra-fuzzy pipe cleaners, plastic nuts and bolts, coiled bracelets or key chains, and weighted lap pads.

2. Alerting fidgets

For some kids with ADHD, a little noise, color, or light can actually help with focus. If kids need that kind of stimulation, try a pull and stretch pop tube. 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.

3. Chewy fidgets

A chew necklace is 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. 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.

4. Resistance fidgets

Silly Putty is a classic toy that 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.

5. Tactile fidgets

Some kids with ADHD find that touching different textures helps them focus. Anything that’s sticky, gooey, slimy, hairy, or scratchy might work. Porcupine balls are one example of a tactile fidget. Others include play foam, sensory sand, pop-beads, Velcro strips, and rubbery squeeze toys like stress balls.

6. Spinning fidgets

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

Talk with your child about how to use fidgets, and set rules for fidgets in your home. And before you send your child to school with a fidget, talk with your child’s teacher.

A fidget contract can help you and your child agree on when, where, and how the fidget can be used. This downloadable fidget contract can provide your child with direction on how to use a fidget in an appropriate way.

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