Quick Tip

Improve Focus with Fidgeting

Improve Focus

The more challenging a task or topic, the more fidgeting is needed to learn and retain.

One terrific tactic for allowing kids to move without disrupting other kids is through conscious fidgeting. Adults do this all the time. Classic examples of fidgeting to focus include chewing on a pencil or pen, twirling little pieces of scrap paper in a meeting, or doodling in a notebook. Kids who need to fidget are often found biting their nails, or even chewing on their hair or their clothing.

When our kids (and their teachers) understand that fidgeting can be helpful, we can teach them to do it constructively. Some kids are actually allowed to chew gum in class as part of an IEP (Individualize Education Plan), because it helps their brains to stay engaged.

Other strategies in the classroom include giving the child a small “fidget” like a mood stone, or a squeezy ball, or a piece of modeling clay. You do need to set agreements with the child and the teacher to make sure that the fidget doesn’t become an object of hyper-focus, but generally speaking, when a child can keep his fingers engaged, it’s easier to keep his brain engaged.

As mentioned above, fidgets are also helpful outside of school when standing or larger movement is not an accommodation you can make. You can allow your child to bring a rubic’s cube to a concert, or use crayons quietly while sitting in church. Magnetic bucky balls can keep a child occupied during long drives or when waiting for you in a doctor’s office.

When you plan for fidgeting, then there is not as much re-direction, and your child begins to assume responsibility for managing his hyperactivity.

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