Why Can’t You Just Sit Still?

To fidget or not to fidget? That is the question I’ve been getting a lot! You watch your child on their zoom. They’ve turned their video off and they’re pacing the room. They are doodling while the teacher talks. They are hopping around on zoom looking at their classmates faces. This doesn’t look right. Right?

First, take a deep breathe and pause. What may appear to be off task behavior to you, may just be your child self regulating.

Research tells us that physical activity, even those as tiny as foot tapping or eating a crunchy snack, increases the release of dopamine and norepinephrine. Two neurotransmitters that control focus and attention!

For kids with ADHD, doing two things at once can help their brain focus. Deliberate fidgeting can actually help focus.

So, what is deliberate fidgeting? First, it must be a mindless activity, one that is automatic and does not require deliberate thought. Second, the child should be using a sense OTHER than the one required by the task. Walking while talking, for example.

Here are some ideas.

  1. Pacing or walking the room while listening to zoom.
  2. Doodling letters or numbers on paper while listening.
  3. Using multicolored or scented markers while reading to underline or highlight.
  4. Moving your hands with a bracelet. Paper clip of other object.
  5. Squeezing a nerf ball while answering questions.
  6. Chewing gum during a quiz.
  7. Eating a crunchy snack during silent reading.

These are great examples of how fidgeting May be a very adaptive way to increase focus and attention. The more familiar, repetitive or long the task, the more your child may benefit from this.

So when your radar goes up that something doesn’t look right, maybe they’re self selecting a fidget. You can reinforce this by noticing, “cool you found a way to stay focused, zoom calls are tough right?” If they have not found an adaptive fidget, you could try introducing one from above.🙌🏻

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