One of the most common effects that children and adults with ADHD report is difficulty with focusing. While people with ADHD often experience an absorbing, laser-like focus when doing particular tasks or activities, this type of focus only arises in certain scenarios and may seem to somewhat offset the lack of coherent focus the rest of the time. Part of this lack of focus has to do with the high amount of energy people with ADHD often have, resulting in their need to fidget and be continually stimulated.
This difficulty in concentrating can be frustrating for both children and adults. Luckily, there are several ADHD focus exercises out there that will help you hone yours or your child’s concentration. The brain is continually establishing new neural pathways and strengthening old ones, especially during the early development stages of childhood. Therefore, by completing focus-building exercises you will help strengthen those pathways necessary for concentration, essentially training your brain the way you want.
There are lots of ADHD focus exercises out there that not only help building concentration, but are fun, too.
Puzzles and puzzle games are such a great way to train your brain because they are fun and diverse. There are traditional puzzles, which are a good way to develop concentration by focusing on completion and developing spatial awareness skills, in addition to visual recognition. Less traditional puzzle games are a good way to go, too. Things like a Rubik’s Cube that provide lots of tactile stimulation can be not only a good puzzle for developing concentration, but also a calming mechanism, too.
Another great thing about puzzles and puzzle games is that they come in a variety of sizes and difficulty levels so that you can find the right version for you or your child. When choosing a difficulty level, be sure to pick something challenging but not impossible so that you don’t end up causing frustration and discouragement. Remember, these exercises should be fun!
Maze games are another great mental stimulator. Mazes require a lot of forethought and strategy—in order to get through a maze, you have to choose each move with care and look several steps ahead to ensure that you don’t repetitively meet a dead end. Mazes can be fun to do on your own, or you can jazz them up a little by racing your friends or children. You can find printable mazes on raiseyourkids.com, or play them electronically online at mathisfun.com.
Paddle balls used to be a staple of any childhood, and for good reason. In order to keep the ball bouncing up and off the paddle, you must maintain focus on the ball at all times. Doing this not only forces you to zero in and hone your concentration in order to be successful, it also increases hand-eye coordination and rhythmic skills.
The physical nature of the paddle ball makes it an ideal ADHD focus exercise. The steady movement of your hand as you flip it gently up and the reverberation of the ball as it slaps against the paddle creates a pleasing tactile sensation to the game. Additionally, because the ball is attached to the paddle you never have to worry about losing it, eliminating the potential frustration with the activity that could arise otherwise.
Sequence Dancing Games
That’s right. Break out your old Dance Dance Revolution or Just Dance games, because sequence dancing is one of the best ADHD focus exercises there is. Whether it be the more old-school mat games where you stomp on the arrows, or one of the newer games that tracks all your movements with a camera, these games are great for increasing focus and getting a good workout.
Sequence dancing allows you to have fun and burn off some of that excess energy while at the same time forcing you to focus on the movements on the screen and translate them to your own physical expression. The rhythmic and pattern-like qualities of the dances also train your brain to recognize these sequences and utilize them while you’re playing.
Play Catch While Learning
Playing catch, or really doing any other rhythmic exercise, while being told and learning information is another great way to help build concentration and memory. By falling into the rhythmic pattern of games like playing catch, you become less fidgety and distractible, allowing for your mind to take in greater information and memorize it more easily.
While it is important to train your brain to focus and concentrate more efficiently in order to function better in everyday life, don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it! There are lots of great available options out there, so find those that are best for you or your child, whether they be mental, physical, or a bit of both.
Feature image via Today's Parent