Would it be helpful to have some guidelines on the types of activities that are most beneficial, while still being enjoyable? Making it through a long day at school can be almost tortuous for the ADHD child, which is why it is even more important to schedule the right type of activities once the school day has concluded. These activities can help your child refuel his/her batteries and better manage some of their more troublesome symptoms. To help you get started, below we have listed some guidelines on the types of activities that are both fun and helpful for the ADHD child, along with some suggestions on the types of activities you may want to avoid.
Fun and Helpful Activities for the ADHD Child: Guidelines
The first step in planning the perfect activities for your ADHD child is to understand how their disorder affects them. For example, some children with ADHD lean more towards the hyperactive and impulsive side of the spectrum, while others may be shy, withdrawn and inattentive. These symptomatic clues can help you create a starting point in the planning process. While there is no activity that is guaranteed to help with your child’s ADHD symptoms, there are certain types of activities that tend to help manage symptoms better than others. Here are just a few tips suggested by ADHD experts:
- Schedule activities with individualized or small group instruction. While most children can learn new skills by watching other people participate, ADHD children do not tend to perform as well when thrown into a large group. Instead you should schedule activities that involve one-on-one or small group instruction, as well as a smaller number of participants. Activities such as wrestling, diving and martial arts are the perfect types of activities for ADHD children because they allow for a physical release of energy and teach both concentration and discipline. They also help ADHD children make friends and forge relationships in a smaller group setting.
- Schedule physical, movement-related activities. ADHD children tend to have an excess supply of energy, and unless they have an outlet to release some of that energy it could lead to a wide range of problems, including sleep difficulties, disciplinary problems and poor school performance. After the long school day, activities such as running or swimming can be the perfect energy outlet for the ADHD child and may even lead to better self-control.
- Limit the Focus. Many of the team sports such as basketball, baseball, football and soccer have far too many areas of focus for the ADHD child. From learning several new skills at once, learning rules and following directions, these team sports can often be overwhelming. On the other hand, activities such as swimming or archery, with only one primary area of focus can help children to concentrate more effectively on the task at hand, which often leads to more success.
- Choose activities with tangible rewards. Activities in which children can see the fruits of their labor, such as gardening or helping out in the community, can help ADHD children build confidence and self-esteem.
- Choose structured activities. Although most children will not admit it, most of them like structured activities with clearly defined rules and procedures. This is especially true for the ADHD child who can become confused and overwhelmed when trying to fit-in with a large and unstructured group.
Activities that parents may want to avoid include those with a lot of down time, or those that cause children to wait around for their turn. Also to avoid are those activities that require large amounts of undivided attention and activities involving the use of fine motor skills.
By following these simple guidelines, parents can create safe and rewarding activities for their ADHD child that are not only a lot of fun, but will also help accommodate for some of their child’s more problematic ADHD symptoms.