The fidget spinners craze has been incredible to watch however it has led to some confusion around ‘fidgets’ and how they might help.
Fidgeting is a natural habit undertaken by most of us in varying ways and degrees. Some like to squeeze. Whereas others will prefer repetitive movements or feeling textures. Which means one toy or gadget will not suit everyone!
From a therapeutic point of view, I recommend fidgets:
- to help manage stress or anxiety (a way of calming down)
- to help maximise attention.
Fidgets need to help kids meet their goal (e.g. for calming or attention), be appropriate for the environment (e.g. home versus the classroom) and be supported by rules around use.
Whilst many of the children I see with ADHD do naturally fidget a lot, I estimate only 40% of them can successfully use a fidget to help focus in class.
The other 60% get too distracted by the object, even if it is something ‘boring’ like Blu-Tack.
There are loads of great commercially available fidgets and these can be trendy and have good social currency with peers. However I tend to use an even greater range of everyday objects that are cheaper and less obvious tools. Some of my most frequently recommended fidgets are:
- bulldog clips
- hair bands worn around the wrist
- balloons filled with flour
- Grunt twister ties
Remember: Fidgets can have there place but they need to be used strategically and (unfortunately) they won’t be a magic fix!