Keeping your kids entertained is one of the hardest tasks when you're a parent. It’s even more difficult when your child has ADHD and could get quickly bored of or distracted away from “normal” activities. But it’s also more important to keep kids with ADHD busy with activities; otherwise, they could become bored, irritable, and even disruptive.
Although your approach may need to be adjusted when engaging a child with ADHD, there are still lots of great activities they can take part in that will sustain their attention and encourage their development.
In this article, I’ll go over 11 activities that both parents and experts say are great for kids with ADHD.
What Is a Good Activity for Kids With ADHD?
A good activity for kids with ADHD provides opportunities for being active. Kids with ADHD may also need to be able to switch tasks more frequently than neurotypical kids to keep from getting bored.
Kids with ADHD may also have difficulty having motivation for activities they have no interest in. A good way to choose an activity for your child is to follow their lead; choose activities based on their interests.
In addition, physical activity gives kids with ADHD an opportunity to release their pent-up hyperactive energy – which is why I’ve included lots of sports and physical activities on this list.
Here are 11 good activities you should consider for your child with ADHD.
Research shows that lessons in martial arts (tae kwon do) help kids improve their executive functioning skills, like:
The way ADHD affects your child’s brain can lead to deficits in executive functioning. This means that tae kwon do (or other martial arts) could be very helpful for your child. They can have fun and gain confidence while also improving important life skills.
Video games for ADHD
Certain video games have been designed to help kids with ADHD learn important skills like self-control and focus. There are several easy-to-access ADHD apps out there that can help your child with the disorder while entertaining them at the same time.
The Joon app, for example, is a game designed for kids with ADHD. Kids are assigned a virtual creature to take care of every day, but they must complete real-life “Quests” – tasks assigned to them by their parents – to level up in the game. By using the Joon app, kids learn real-life responsibility while having fun.
Note: If you want to create a fun activity system for your child, try Joon. Joon has over 3.5k ratings in the app store, and it's a great way to make activities extra fun. Designed specifically for kids with ADHD and their parents, Joon promotes healthy habits, good behavior and makes life easier. Click here to download it for 7-days free.
Soccer can be a great activity for kids with ADHD especially if they have many hyperactive energies that lead to sleep problems or emotional outbursts. As one of the most demanding team sports out there, joining a soccer team will require your child to run continuously for long periods of time.
Intense aerobic exercise like this can have many benefits for your child with ADHD, including helping them sleep better and improving their mood.
Some studies suggest spending time in nature can decrease ADHD symptoms in children. In one study, merely doing activities outdoors helped lower kids’ symptoms compared with doing the same activities indoors.
Going on a family hike can create an opportunity for your child to spend time in nature as well as release some of their energy (especially if it’s a strenuous hike). Spending time in nature is good for overall well-being, so your child with ADHD won’t be the only one benefiting from this activity.
One of the benefits of ADHD is that kids with ADHD are often very creative. Encourage this creativity by engaging your child in art projects.
Art projects can be as complex and structured or free-flowing as you want them to be. Sometimes, you might engage your child in structured art activities like origami to teach them patience and self-control. Other times, a free art activity (like finger painting) could help your child explore their artistic side.
You can also use art to help your child with emotional awareness. For example, ask them to draw or paint what they imagine “joy” or “sadness” to look like.
Races and competition
Competition can be very engaging for kids with ADHD. You can hold your own family races to engage your child’s competitive spirit. For example, a rally-style race or a potato sack race may be fun ways to help your child get silly energy out.
Making boring tasks into a competition might also be a fun activity for your child with ADHD. Using a timer during races can help your child learn how to measure and manage their own time.
For example, you could challenge your child to wash as many dishes as possible within 5 minutes or fill a basket with as many toys as possible for 60 seconds.
Swimming is a physically active sport that can provide your child with the perfect balance between team and individual sports.
Team sports can be challenging for some kids with ADHD because of the downtime involved while waiting for other players to compete. But team sports can also teach your child essential life skills like teamwork and communication. Read our review of the best sports for children with ADHD.
By joining a swim team, your child can work toward their personal goals (without having to wait or be dependent on others) while still learning what it’s like to work together as a team.
Another way to combine physical activity and life skills is through dance classes. Dance can be an excellent activity for kids with ADHD because it engages their creative spirit while helping them burn energy. Dance classes are usually group settings; your child can learn interpersonal skills.
Follow your child’s lead when it comes to dancing and which style appeals to them. For example, ballet may come off as slow and “boring” for many kids with ADHD.
On top of the above benefits, experts also say that young adults with ADHD excel in dance and performance programs (as opposed to traditional academic programs). So, by getting them started in dance or other performance arts, you may be setting them on a path of passion and success.
Note: Try Joon, a task or household chore app for kids. Children get rewarded for completing activities set by their parents. It's a fun way to parents and ADHD children to stay busy and build routines. Try a 7-day free trial today.
Scouting groups, like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, can be a great activity for kids with ADHD, especially if you or another adult are present to monitor their interactions. Kids with ADHD are more likely to face social rejection and bullying and joining the scouts may allow opportunity to make friends outside of the traditional school setting.
On top of that, scouts often go on camping and other outdoor activities. These trips can teach your child confidence, self-control, and discipline.
Baking or cooking
For older kids interested in it, baking or cooking can be a great way to explore their passion and be creative.
Baking and/or cooking allows kids to try out new things daily through different recipes. It teaches them perseverance and problem-solving skills when the food doesn’t come out like they’d planned. It also teaches children patience – they’ll need to learn how to wait for the water to boil or the bread to rise.
Best of all, baking and cooking are activities that can be done in your own home. With practice, your child with ADHD may even be able to start preparing delicious meals for your family! Many kids with ADHD have become so interested in it that they’ve pursued it as a profession in adulthood.
Many kids with ADHD also experience sensory overload. This is associated with sensory processing disorder. Engaging your child in sensory activities can be a great way to make sure they’re getting the sensory input and stimulation they need.
Some kids could be averse to certain textures, sights, or sounds, so keep this in mind. Pay attention to what kind of sensory input your child is drawn to. Some examples of sensory activities you could engage your child in include:
- Making and playing with slime
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Walking on their hands
- Rumpling pieces of paper
- Listening to loud music through noise-canceling headphones (or using the headphones simply to block out noise)
- Squeezing a stress ball
You can use the Joon app as an activity in itself, or as a way to motivate your child to complete other activities. For example, you might assign your child’s art class as a “Quest” in the Joon app. They won’t be able to get their virtual creature to the next level until they complete this task.
For any of these activities to be successful, your child needs to have intrinsic motivation to do them. Joon App can help with that. Click here to download the app for free!