All children need fun activities to fill their free time. Enjoyable hobbies, tasks, and games support mental health and well-being, create happy memories for kids, and are often necessary for childhood development. With that said, it can be harder to find options that'll keep a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) busy at times. What are some solutions?
In this article, we'll discuss fun activities you can use to keep a child with ADHD busy. We have included options suitable for older and younger children, as well as families of different structures, sizes, and income levels.
Have A Picnic
Family picnics are low-pressure outings for parents of kids with ADHD. Picnics are also an activity that a family can adjust to their needs; you can have a picnic outside at a park, but you can also do it in your own yard or outdoor space. If the weather is bad, you can even try an indoor picnic. Many kids like to help their parents put the picnic basket together, which will help keep children occupied and in your sight.
Try Cooking or Baking Together
Many children enjoy cooking or baking. Kids with ADHD sometimes have extra trouble with school subjects like math, or they might have difficulty with fine motor skills. Cooking together is a way to promote skills like these in your child without making it a chore.
Assign your child to tasks such as measuring flour, mixing batter, reading a recipe aloud, or teach them something new, like how to crack an egg. Cooking and baking certainly require supervision, making it a great activity for bonding with your kids.
Go For A Nature Walk
Nature walks are free, but they are the perfect opportunity to get fresh air and release excess energy. Time outdoors and exercise have many of the same benefits, such as the potential to boost mood and relieve stress. Nature walks also give you a chance to explore local parks or discuss birds and other animals you come across, which is fun for many children.
To encourage healthy habits, you can make nature walks a regular part of your family's routine.
Play a Board Game
Board games and card games are often used by professionals who work with children with ADHD. In spaces such as occupational therapy, games can be used to aid executive function, memory, and more in kids with ADHD. Board games and other games that do not require technology are ideal for parents who need to find something stimulating for kids without adding to screen time.
Here are some ideas:
- Chutes and Ladders
- SEQUENCE for kids
- Scrabble (for older kids)
- Catan Junior
Though it's not necessarily a board game, a more active game like Twister might be ideal for kids with ADHD who have trouble sitting still. Similarly, though it's important to limit screen time, active video games (such as those modeled after team sports) are a way for kids to get their bodies moving and have fun.
Watch A Movie
Watching a movie together is a classic activity, and it's suitable for nearly all children. For kids with ADHD who struggle to wind down or sit still, a parent may practice soothing activities first, or you might plan to watch a movie at a time when your child has had adequate exercise and is more able to concentrate.
Movies can be purely for enjoyment, but you can use them as a learning opportunity. If you want to teach your child about emotions, sharing, friendship, or virtually anything else, you might decide to watch a movie or show that covers the topic. That way, you can discuss the movie together afterward.
From coloring books to DIY craft projects, creative activities are classic childhood hobbies with proven benefits for kids. Most families have art supplies around the house already, and there are so many ways to make art that the options are nearly limitless.
If you want to try something new with your child, you might opt to:
- Create paper plate masks
- Make DIY slime or playdough
- Use watercolor paints over white crayons
- Draw self-portraits or family portraits
- Mold clay or kinetic sand
- Make a collage
Different art projects will require varying levels of support or supervision, so keep this in mind.
Read A Book
Reading to your child is an excellent calming activity with a ton of benefits. It can be tough to get children with ADHD to sit quietly while you read. However, children do not necessarily need to remain idle to take in the story. Children with ADHD may actually focus better if they are able to fidget or move around while parents read to them. It is not uncommon for children with ADHD to struggle with reading, so it is valuable to promote reading skills in kids with the condition.
Organize The House
Organizing the house might not be what comes to mind when you think about fun activities for ADHD kids, but it most certainly can be. It's also a way for a busy parent to get two things done at once. To turn it into a game, challenge your kids to a "race" to see who can finish a specific organizational task the fastest.
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Like organizing the home, gardening with your child is a way to get two things done at once. Not only are you finishing yard work, but you're also spending time together. Gardening is a good match for kids in nearly any age group. It's also yet another way to benefit from nature!
Balloon volleyball is exactly what it sounds like. To play, set up a volleyball net as you usually would, but blow up balloons to use in place of the ball.
With hyperactive kids and younger children especially, playing volleyball with a real ball might be risky. Balloon volleyball is a safe alternative you can set up anywhere you have the space, whether inside or outside.
Like taking walks, this is a natural and fun way to get physical activity into your child's day - and yours, too, if you join in!
If you are looking for a special activity to brighten the day, create a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt for your kids at home. This idea works whether you have one child or multiple children, and it is something you can facilitate indoors or outdoors. It doesn't need to be expensive; parents can buy items for their scavenger hunt at the dollar store to keep it affordable.
Most children enjoy dancing. Throwing a dance party at home is a great way to keep your child busy. Let your child or children pick the music they want to listen to and dance to. Depending on your energy levels and how much time you have, you can even decorate the house or take turns lip-synching to get kids excited and interested.
As stated, exercise can have incredible benefits for anyone, but especially children with ADHD. Martial arts are no exception. Not only are they an outlet for excess energy, but it's the benefits of martial arts for people with ADHD have actually been proven by research. Studies on martial arts for children show that martial arts can promote executive function, making it ideal for a child with ADHD.
If you're unsure whether your child's ready for a class, test the waters with at-home martial arts instructional videos.
Mindfulness meditations are soothing with proven physical and mental health benefits, such as stress and anxiety relief. If you are looking for something that doubles as both a calming and fun activity, meditation might be right up your alley.
Stretching and yoga are two other alternatives.
Team Or Individual Sports
Sports are a great way to fill a child's down time, especially for those with hyperactive kids. If there's a sport your child is interested in, they might be interested in pursuing it regularly by joining a team, but that's not the only way to play. Sports have a ton of potential benefits, including improvements in self-esteem and happiness.
Some families are able to play team sports, like tennis, together. If you have other kids or can join your child yourself, sports are a great activity for family time. However, individual sports are an ideal option for a child with ADHD when others are unable to join in. For example, swimming, bowling, running, and boxing.
Fun activities create memories and are a critical part of childhood development. Kids with ADHD can be harder to keep busy at times, especially during the Summer months or other parts of the year when kids are home more often and do not have the structure of school. As a result, parents may look for new ways to keep their child occupied. Activities like sports, dancing to music, gardening, and playing games are all potential options for a child with ADHD. Every child is unique, so choose the best activities for your family from this list.