Great Activities for Kids with ADHD
When your child has ADHD, it is especially important that they don’t spend long hours watching television or playing video games. This will do nothing to help them develop those skills that tend to be underdeveloped in children with this disorder. Instead try to find activities for after school and on the weekends that can help them expend all that extra energy and boost their confidence as they develop new skills. Especially if your child is struggling in school, the extra outlets will help them channel their frustration into more positive activities.
Studies have shown that exercise can help control ADHD symptoms because it increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, but each child is different with a different set of symptoms and needs so you need to find the right activity for your child. Here are some great activities for kids with ADHD:
Just Keep Him Moving
A good place to start is with some good old-fashioned outdoor exercise. Get your child outside and moving. Teach him how to ride a bike or go hiking as a family. Your child will love that he is constantly moving around and it will help keep him focused on what he is doing. Nature itself is also very therapeutic. So go commune with nature and soak in some of that Vitamin D together!
Sign up for swim lessons
While not all organized sports are ideal for kids with ADHD, there are some like swimming that can teach them valuable skills and boost their self-confidence. The structure and guidance that is built into swim lessons are perfect for a child with ADHD and your child will benefit from the one-on-one time that the coaches give. And while your child will be mostly focusing on their own personal development as they try best their own times, they will also feel a part of the team. Want proof? Just look at Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 9 years old.
Hit the track and field
When your child is running, she is better able to let go of all the stresses of her day and just focus on her breathing and body movements. This is another sport where it is more about your personal best than any direct competition which makes it a better fit for kids with ADHD. Consider signing her up for track or cross country or if that isn’t possible start a routine where you run together a couple of times a week.
Check out a martial arts class
The martial arts has long been touted as a great activity for children with ADHD. It teaches self-control, discipline and respect and because the students are led through step by step instructions on how to do each combination, there is little room for distraction. Also, because there is so much ritual built into martial arts, your child will grow used to routine which will help her develop it in other parts of her life as well.
Time to hit that racket
Tennis is another great individualistic sport. While some teamwork and coordination is required when you do doubles work, it is mostly just you mastering a new skill. Tennis is also very fast-paced and requires a lot of attention so it is good at keeping your child in the moment. Whacking that ball is also a good way for him or her to let off steam after a particularly stressful day.
Build strength and balance with gymnastics
Because gymnastics demands that you are attune to your body’s every movement and helps build core strength and balance, it is very similar to the occupational therapy that some kids with ADHD receive. It is particularly effective in helping children with sensory processing.
Hit the wrestling mat
Sometimes children with ADHD have a lot of misguided aggression that causes them to get into fights and trouble at school and at home. If your child is angry and frustrated a lot and does not know what to do with those feelings, wrestling is a safe way to channel the aggression and to learn how to control their feelings better.
Get involved in the arts
Not every child is interested in sports so luckily there are other activities that are recommended for children with ADHD. Both music and the theater instill important skills and values. Music actually uses both sides of the brain which will help your child to be able to multitask better and not lose focus. And if your child joins a band or a choir, they will also learn how to be a part of a team.
Theater work requires line memorization which is a great workout for the brain. Your child’s concentration will improve and they will learn to accept the sense of routine that comes with practicing the same scenes over and over. The rush they will feel when on stage in the spotlight will also help build their self-confidence.
Join Girl Scouts/Cub Scouts
Your child will love earning badges and all the activities that Girls Scouts and Cub Scouts do together. Whether it is arts & crafts, learning how to make the perfect knot or participating in the pinewood derby, your child will learn how to be focused and organized and how to work well with others.
Get that brain moving too
Research consistently shows that we need to exercise both our mind and our body to be healthy so if your child is academically inclined see if his or her school has a debate team. It will help develop social skills and team building as well as communication skills.
Pull out those board games
If time and money is an issue, then even squeezing a little time for board games as a family can also make a difference. Start will simple games like Bingo that are quick and don’t require a lot of concentration and build up to more strategic games. Each win will help your child build self-esteem.
One last thing to keep in mind is that the coach or teacher working with your child is a key part that makes these activities a success. Not all of them will be experienced at working with children with ADHD so don’t be shy about sharing with them your child’s diagnosis and your experience with what works and doesn’t work for your child. Being called out by the coach or teacher for not paying attention will only humiliate your child and increase their stress and anxiety levels.