Child Development

The Best Games for Kids with ADHD

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If your child has been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you might find yourself running out of activities to occupy your child or hold their attention. 

Children with ADHD are often subject to symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and a short attention span, which can sometimes lead to behavioral problems and difficulties in school. However, establishing a list of activities and games for your child will not only improve attention and concentration skills but can serve as an outlet for your child to channel their boundless energy. 

The best games for kids with ADHD help them to stay engaged and have fun. Check out these games for kids with ADHD to help them succeed both at home and within the classroom.

Finding a Game for a Child with ADHD

As mentioned previously, children with ADHD typically have difficulty with impulse control, maintaining focus, learning and memory, and executive functioning abilities. Therefore, engaging in activities and games that are aimed at improving attention and concentration skills will only benefit your child. 

When coming up with games and activities for your child, it is important to remember that what one child enjoys might be different from another child. Keep your child’s interests in mind when creating a list of activities. 

Do they enjoy sports? Do they like to draw? Do they enjoy building things? Use your child’s skills to their advantage!

Best Games

Nowadays, there are so many games and apps out in the world to choose from. You can do a quick google search and find thousands of games and websites, all claiming to help your child with ADHD. It can become overwhelming. We’ve compiled a list of board games, computer games, apps, and traditional games that are based on research to help your child with ADHD burn off that extra energy or improve attention-based skills. Keep reading to find out more!

Board games

Board games are a great way to not only further develop certain skills, such as concentration and executive functioning abilities, but they can also help your child to build connections between families and loved ones alike. Below is a list of board games that should be added to your family’s game nights (in no specific order):

  • Catan Junior: this game is great for children between the ages of 6 and 10. It is a strategic game that trains critical thinking and planning skills, like the popular adult version.
  • Chutes and Ladders: this game requires your child to deal with frustration and failures quickly. In this game, the goal is to make it to the top of the board before your opponent, however, losing comes quickly as you can easily slide down a chute and move from leader to loser in an instant.
  • Clue: a crime-solving game with the goal of finding out “who did it.” This game allows children to think about the information they have in front of them to make educated decisions. Within this game, children quickly learn that they must think about their actions before making any decisions that can cost them the game. 
  • Chinese Checkers: teaches children to problem solve in order to get their “men” from one end to the other. 

Computer games

With the multitude of video games to choose from online, how do you know which games are helping or hindering your child’s development? Keep reading for a look at video games aimed to help improve your child’s symptoms of ADHD. 

  • Playing active, fast-paced video games such as “Plant vs. Zombies 2” relies on your child to make quick decisions and have selective attention to identify only the important details of the game. 
  • Minecraft is a game that requires players to collect materials from the world around them to build things and “craft items.” It can help your child improve their planning skills, as well as be a world in which they can express their creativity. 
  • Bad Piggies is a computer game that was designed by the creators of Angry Birds. Bad Piggies is a puzzle game that requires players to build various contraptions for your “piggies” to get to their destination. It enables players to think strategically about their moves as well as plan ahead.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an hour per day of total media screen time for children in elementary school. Children in secondary school are recommended to be limited to two hours per day of screen time. Currently, American children are spending more than six hours per day on screens!

While video games can be a great tool in helping your child manage symptoms of ADHD, you as a parent should still set reasonable time limits on the amount of time your child is spending online. 

Apps

  • Joon is a great app to motivate your child to focus and stay on top of their daily tasks with a game that turns to-dos into fun. Joon helps children with ADHD focus and learn using a video game.
  • Mental UP is an app that supports cognitive development and is designed to boost attention and focus with 15-minute personalized brain exercises. 
  • Remember the Milk is an app that helps individuals organize to-dos. 
  • Roblox is a game that can help children with planning and organizing. It improves concentration, focus, and your child’s planning skills. 
  • Toca Nature is a sandbox game created to foster creativity and develop your child’s planning skills. This game allows your child to design and create their own world.
  • Headspace is an app that provides meditation and mindfulness skills to any mind or skill level. It is an app that can improve focus and increase awareness of one’s own mindfulness meditation.

Traditional games

Don’t have any board games or apps on hand? Not a problem. With these games, you won’t need much of anything to play.

  •  Red Light, Green Light: we have all played this game in the school playground as children. A simple, yet fun game that can increase your child’s concentration and motor skills… So, how do you play? 
  • Step 1: The “traffic light” (adult or child) stands at the front of the room, while the rest of the children are on the opposite side of the room.
  • Step 2: Assign colors of the traffic light for each action. For example, green means “go,” yellow means “slow down,” and red means “stop.” The rules are simple. If someone goes when they should be stopped, they are instructed to return to the starting line. The first individual to reach the finish line wins.
  • I-Spy: this game is a great tool to use with your child to center them around their surroundings. This game is often played with children in therapy to “ground” them and bring them to the present moment. All you have to do is look around the room and find an object. Tell your child: “I spy something… red (or whatever color the object is).” Keep giving your child clues about the object until they are able to find it in the room. This game can also be used as a calming technique when your child begins to get frustrated. 

Some other fun activities to try with your child can include:

  • Have an indoor scavenger hunt
  • Build towers with cards or materials 
  • Play music and dance to your child’s favorite songs
  • Draw or paint with your child 
  • Work on a project together
  • Have a picnic
  • Cook together
  • Go for a walk
  • Play tag
  • Go on a bike ride

Engaging with Your Child 

Engaging in activities and games with your child will not only teach them valuable skills but will also facilitate growth and build a healthy relationship with your child.  

It is important to remember that as you play games with your child and engage in activities, you should be providing reinforcement with praise and encouragement. You should be modeling behaviors and skills that you want your child to mirror. Oh, and have fun!

Takeaway

Raising a child with ADHD can be difficult at times. They may have difficulty paying attention in school or struggle to get tasks done at home. Maybe you told them three times to clean their room this week. This probably sounds all too familiar. The good news is... There are ways to help your child with ADHD improve their attention skills!

Finding fun activities to do with your child does not have to become a burden. With the internet, apps, and resources constantly at our fingertips, you as a parent can begin to incorporate fun activities and games into your child’s schedule as a much-needed way to channel their excess energy and create memories that you, as a parent, will cherish forever!