Some simple tips can guide parents of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD) through a jungle of toys beckoning holiday shoppers online and on store shelves. Frederick List, PhD, child psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Greenville Health System, has advice on what gifts to get—or NOT to get—and the answers could save parents, family members and friends some money, too.
Any parent knows that the wrong toy in the wrong child’s hand can make for a difficult Christmas morning, but it’s important to realize that children with ADHD may have a lower threshold for frustration and may take longer to recuperate. A lot of heartache and tears—for children and parents—could be avoided in the first place by taking some time to consider different types of toys that may better match their child’s specific needs and interests.
An “ADHD label” on a toy isn’t a one-size fits all solution. Consider the activities the child enjoys, attention issues the child has and the activities that capture the child’s imagination. For example, a rough and tumble child who likes to play in the dirt would be happier with gardening tools than an arts and crafts kit, and the tools could provide a reason to dig.
- Consider activities the child enjoys.
- Consider toys that can help channel those activities productively.
- Consider different types of toys that might involve that activity.
- Get involved with the child in that activity.
- Don’t use a toy to substitute for the parent.
- Don’t expect an expert or a toy manufacturer to know your child better than you do.
- Don’t pick a toy just because it has an ADHD label.
- Don’t let negative criticism outweigh positive encouragement.
Add in some parental involvement. Helping them with it and showing interest can increase the child’s attention span on what they are doing and also increase their success. ADHD is a difficulty focusing on things that aren’t stimulating. Their ability to independently regulate how they are focusing their attention is more difficult for them than for other kids. Look for games and toys that will help direct them to where you’d like them to head. Try gymnastics, jump rope or basketball for a child who climbs on furniture and jumps on the bed. Rather than trying to stop a behavior that we don’t like, is there something we can use to help channel that into a more productive manner?
Approximately 11 percent of U.S. children from 4 to 17 years of age (6.4 million) have ever been diagnosed with ADHD, according to a 2011-12 report by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you have questions about ADHD, talk to your child’s primary care doctor. If you need help finding a pediatrician, call 1-844-447-3627 or click here.
Last reviewed 1/2018