Freedom to Fidget: Helping Kids with ADHD
Have you ever had a Sunday morning in KidMin where it felt like you were teaching to a room full of squirrels? Most of us probably have! Sometimes it might seem like every parent fed their kids Red Bull and Pixie Sticks before dropping them off. More often, though, you might have one or two kids who consistently struggle to stay still and pay attention. If that's the case for you, you're not alone! According to the CDC, 11% of American children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also know as ADHD. There are at least 7 common signs of ADHD (you can see them here,) but one of the most frequent and noticeable signs is fidgeting. Kids with ADHD can struggle to sit still. They're the ones most likely to get up, run around, squirm or fidget. As tempting as it might be to tell these kids to sit still, you might want to think twice about that. Although you can't allow kids to run wild on Sunday morning, a 2015 study shows that kids with ADHD concentrate better when they're allowed to fidget. Since the desire to fidget is so strong in a kid with ADHD, forcing them to stop can be a distraction. That's why more and more parents and educators are giving kids with ADHD tools that allow them to fidget without causing commotion. If you doubt it, just look at toy sales on Amazon. Believe it not, as of this moment, 4 of the 5 best selling items in the "Toys and Games" category on Amazon are fidget toys. A fidget toy is a small self-regulation tool that kids can manipulate with their hands. It helps them stay calm and focused. Many of the top selling toys on Amazon range between 1 and 3 dollars, but you can even make some of your own. For a long time I had a metal nut that I had threaded onto a large safety pin. I would hold the safety pin with one hand and spin the nut with the other. I don't even have ADHD and it really helped me! Here are a few more ideas for inexpensive fidget toys:
Paper pads and pencil (for doodling)
The rough side of a Velcro strip (for tactile stimulation)
The best approach is to provide a variety of fidget toys. Depending on the kid, some toys work better than others. Consider having a box of these fidget toys in your KidMin rooms. Allow the kids who habitually struggle with staying still or paying attention to pick one of the toys out of the box. (Even if they haven't been formally diagnosed with ADHD.) They can try a different toy each week until they find something that helps.
The gospel of Jesus is for everyone! If you give kids with ADHD the tools they need to concentrate, not only can you tame the squirrels, you can give them the ability to hear the most important message ever!