Constructive gifts for children with ADHD

In the world of ADHD, not all gifts are created equal and your childhood favourites might not be the right choice for a child with ADHD. Inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity are the three core symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), though they may present differently in children with ADHD. While some children may struggle with inattention and forgetfulness, others may be more challenged by hyperactivity, impulsive behaviours or social interactions. That said, the right gift can help alleviate ADHD symptoms by channelling excess energy with the right activities and games, while building valuable listening, memory and social skills.

When choosing a gift for your child, it is important to build confidence by playing to his or her strengths, and to consider your end goal in light of your child’s main challenges. Many games you already own simply need a few tweaks to simplify instructions, to make room for creative freedom, and to reduce the overall concentration time. It is not always accurate to go by a game’s age recommendation and you will have to use your own discretion.

For inattention – think simple, quick and open-ended
Children with ADHD often struggle to pay attention to and remember finer details. Look for games with simple instructions and short, high-energy rounds. This will build confidence and give your child the satisfaction of finishing a task. However, to build attention, memory and listening skills, games should not be too easy. The level of complexity should be just above your child’s current functioning level.

Open-ended games, in which the outcome is guided by your child’s imagination rather than a challenging model to copy, are also recommended. Inattentive children often shy away from group activities so to encourage social engagement, you can consider games that involve quick turn-taking such as Checkers or Life.

Gift suggestions: Uno; Zingo; Interlocking Disks; Eureka Wire Puzzle Set; Floor Puzzles; Magna Tiles; Checkers and Life.

For hyperactivity – think high-energy, low stress and the great outdoors
Hyperactive children often find it difficult to sit still in one place for an extended period of time which is why the great outdoors is an ideal location for physical games. Studies show that exercise through movement-based games can improve concentration, reduce anxiety and put your child’s excess energy to good use.

Games like Sturdy Birdy challenges your child on a physical level while increasing balance, coordination, counting skills and self-esteem. Studies show that activities that involve significant joint pressure, such as gripping a bowling ball, can improve concentration and make children with attention difficulties feel more relaxed. It is advisable to stay away from toys that require long hours of practice or activities that require extra coordination.

Gift suggestions: Sturdy Birdy; Outdoor Explore Kits; Safari Bug Vacuum; Kick Board Scooters; Hopper Balls; Indoor Bowling; Tangle Therapy; Finger Spinners; Fidget Blocks and Stretchy Strings.

For impulsivity – think listening, turn-taking and creativity
Impulsivity is often seen in a child’s tendency to interrupt others, change topics and become impatient when waiting their turn, which can quickly lead to temper tantrums. Roleplay games are key for emotional, social and intellectual development while providing a safe outlet to express their emotions.

Creative expression can be encouraged through arts and crafts that allow them to experiment with colours and shapes without any requirement to fit a predefined finished product. Turn-taking games can also help build social skills like listening, consideration and patience.

Gift suggestions: Ker-Plunk; Grow ‘n Glow Terrarium; Jolly Jobs Hand Puppets; Canvas and Paint Set; Beading Kit and a homemade dress-up wardrobe.

Caring for a child with ADHD can be challenging but MyADHD provides essential parenting insights and support every step of the way. The MyADHD Facebook community is also a great place to connect and share with other adults raising a child with ADHD.