After your child is diagnosed with a type of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you might feel like you cannot do enough to help them. However, your presence and support as a caregiver can do a lot to keep your child in a positive mindset while succeeding in life.
One of the things that parents of children with ADHD should consider is increasing the amount of playtime, outdoor play, exercise play, and play therapy in your child’s life. All around, play can make huge differences in your child’s ability to think, process emotions, and better handle their life.
Why is play so important to children diagnosed with ADHD?
Here are some of the primary reasons that adding more play and activity to your child’s days may help them to cope with symptoms of ADHD more effectively.
Reason #1: Helps Them Sleep
One of the primary symptoms of ADHD for children is overactiveness, which is part of the condition that many parents are familiar with. Setting your child up to use more of their energy during the day can help them to sleep better. Sleep is vital to children in general and maybe even more important to children diagnosed with ADHD.
Not getting enough sleep makes most people inattentive; those with ADHD suffer this effect even more severely. Overstimulation and too much energy at nighttime can lead to many problems with falling asleep. When children get more exercise, this improves the brain’s ability to sleep at night, even encouraging more deep sleep.
By giving children play exercise time during the day before a set bedtime, you may be able to help them develop a routine that encourages more consistent sleep.
Reason #2: Provides Exercise
Physical exercise is very important for children with ADHD for several reasons.
One of the most fundamental reasons is that children diagnosed with ADHD are more likely to suffer from obesity which can lead to additional health problems later in life. By incorporating play from a young age, this risk can be reduced drastically.
Additionally, exercise and play give children with ADHD a chance to burn off more energy. Things like organized sports and playtime on the playground give children a healthy way to let out their energy. They can hyperfocus on play and exercise, and these activities have big benefits for children:
- Better concentration
- Lowered risk of depression and anxiety
- Improve brain growth
- Improves ability to sleep
Adding playtime outdoors can be particularly beneficial for children with ADHD. “Green time” spent in a natural setting rather than a concrete jungle gym has been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms more.
Overall, children that struggle with hyperactivity and focus will benefit from adding play and exercise to their lives.
Reason #3: Improves Focus
Some research suggested that children with ADHD may have decreased focus and difficulty planning or controlling emotions due to reduced blood flow in specific parts of the brain.
The team at Play Skills Toys explains that both free and structured forms of play can help to increase blood flow in these brain areas. Active play helps the brain identify structure in the world around them and do a better job of focusing than when play is not encouraged. Riding bikes is one good way for children with ADHD to play; their brain is engaged in unique ways while doing this activity.
Reason #4: Teaches Better Control
One symptom of ADHD often seen in children is the inability to control impulses. Depending on the exact type of ADHD and how it affects your child, their impulsivity can be a major issue in their daily lives.
Play can help children engage with the world in different ways to learn better control of such impulses and their behavior in general. Play gives children a chance to learn about consequences and improve specific areas of their brains without the stress of a classroom environment.
Once those skills are learned, they can be brought into the classroom environment and an improvement in how ADHD symptoms affect a child’s daily life.
Reason #5: Introduces Social Skills
Finally, consider how adding play to a child’s life can improve their social skills. Children that present many symptoms of ADHD can have trouble creating positive social interaction in their daily life.
Playtime, however, creates situations where even children with ADHD can have positive social relationships with other children. Small playgroups, recess, or joining a sports team can be good ways to introduce social skills to a child’s life in a non-threatening way. This opportunity can then allow the child to develop these skills further.
Get Serious About Playtime
Children with or without ADHD can see major benefits from having more playtime in their life. It’s time to make sure that children are allowed this benefit so that they can develop with the world around them more successfully!