Published on July 07, 2017

fidget spinners

Four Alternatives to Fidget Spinners

You see them everywhere; fidgets spinners — sold at mall kiosks, gas stations, big box stores, tourist shops — are winding up in the hands of children, teens and adults alike. Recently, these spinny-clicky toys have been used as an aid for children diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, or those who find themselves a little more easily distracted or squirmy in the classroom.

“The biggest misconception about fidget spinners is that they’ve been touted as an educational tool,” said Nicholas Torbert, DO, Avera Medical Group pediatrician. “While they are fun to play with and might be of some help to some children, there is no scientific evidence that they actually can help a child focus.”

Fad, Yes, But Fidgeting is Common

Even though fidget spinners are the fad of today, the concept has been around longer than you think. Think about things throughout the day you do mindlessly: tapping your pencil, spinning a pen on your hand, drumming your fingers, bouncing your leg up and down, rubbing a particularly soft piece of fabric between your fingers, etc. They subconsciously preoccupy you while the brain is hard at work.

If your child is having difficulty paying attention in the classroom or sitting still for a length of time, encourage him or her to try these other options.

Get plenty of sleep. Irregular sleep patterns, such as oversleeping on the weekends or prolonged naps, can mess with the circadian rhythms of the body. Set a time for your child to go to bed and get up every day, and try to stick to this schedule! Remember, your child should be getting at least eight hours each night.

Eat nutritious meals and snacks. Foods high in sugar cause quick bursts of energy followed by a crash. Offering meals and snacks of whole grains, lean meats and dairy, fruits and vegetables can help balance energy levels all day.

Burn off some energy. As part of a healthy lifestyle, have your children find some form of enjoyable exercise each day for at least 45 minutes. Tag, hide-and -seek or shooting hoops will move their bodies and make them less fidgety in class.

Try yoga. Your child may enjoy learning something new — yoga. These smooth, controlled movements encourage flexibility, reflection and self-discipline.

If you remain concerned about your child’s ability to focus, talk with your family physician about medication options for the treatment of ADHD/ADD.

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