We’ve only begun to understand how ADHD works, but even the earliest doctors, describing it several centuries ago, understood one thing very clearly: those afflicted with ADHD just can’t stop moving. Indeed, one of the earliest mentions of ADHD claimed a word for it that we’re still using today – fidget toys for adhd.
The doctor, a man named Alexander Crichton, was one of Russia’s royal physicians in the late 1700s, and had noted what most certainly was ADHD in several of his patients. They were easily distracted. They couldn’t focus. Above all, they couldn’t stop fidgeting.
As much as it’s a problem in classrooms now, well, it was a problem back then, too.
In fact, Crichton stated outright that it made some teaching almost impossible.
In short, some kids just can’t stop moving, can’t pay attention, and won’t respond to any threats or punishment.
They’re ADHD. They need to fidget. They need to play with something like fidget toys for adhd, with either hands or feet, to distract themselves from the fact that they’re very susceptible to distraction.
Fortunately, doctors and therapists have come up with dozens of solutions.
Fidget Toys for ADHD Aren’t Medication: Will They Really Work?
In many cases, yes – absolutely. Like with medication, what works and what doesn’t depends highly on the child.
However, given that we’re talking mostly about classroom settings, the one word we should value above all is the teacher’s.
If he or she can teach effectively, and ADHD kids can listen effectively, a proper fidget toy has done its job.
There are dozens upon dozens of different fidget toys for adhd on the market. Most are geared towards ADHD kids, some towards children on the autism spectrum, and some just for those with excessive energy. We’ve picked the best ones, divided them into categories, and presented them for you here.
Some will require a teacher’s permission first. Some might not work, and some might actually make things worse. It’s rare, but it can happen, and it’s important, as a parent, to follow up with teachers. The last thing you want is your therapy device to work against your child’s medication.
Fidget toys, after all, are medication, and they need to be tweaked in the same way that medication does – trial, feedback, and adjustment.
With that, let’s examine the best fidget toys on the market – and we’ll start by listing off the ones you don’t want.
Are All Fidget Toys the Same?
No – no, they are not. There are some you should absolutely avoid, and we’ve placed those, too, in a brief list.
1. Fidget Spinners
We’ve all seen these – a double- or triple-winged clover that rotates on a center of ball bearings. Spin it with your forefinger, and then let it wind down between your thumb and middle finger. It’s supposed to be soothing – and, to be frank, it is – but it’s one of the few you should avoid.
The first reason is simple: most teachers hate fidget spinners. They’ve grown incredibly popular over the past two years (in part, perhaps, because they actually work), and every student imaginable has shown up in class with one. They’ve gone from being therapy to a distraction.
If you’re expecting a battle with your child’s teacher about allowing a fidget toy in class, you’ll likely lose if you bring in a fidget spinner. You’re far better off with something that highlights your child’s need to move, rather than something that highlights the lack of attention of most of the neurotypical students.
For what it’s worth, too, if you don’t know exactly where your child’s fidget spinner came from, there’s a minute chance that it came from China, and may contain lead. It’s highly unlikely, but possible – and lead isn’t something to leave to chance, no matter how small.
2. Anything With Water
A number of fidget toys for adhd, especially those geared towards kids with sensory issues, contain a gel or water within a plastic coating. Don’t use these.
Again, it’s not that they’re not effective – they often are. But our focus here is the classroom, and nothing will be more distracting than the day your child breaks through the coating and spills the water or gel. It will happen – ADHD fidgeting is non-stop, and no container is invulnerable.
If it contains liquid, pass it by.
3. Anything Electronic
This one almost seems like a no-brainer, which is why we’re making it explicit – no fidget toys that make noise or light up. Nothing that needs electricity is acceptable.
4. Anything Edible
It’s easy to fidget with a candy necklace, and easier still to let the incoming sugar rush ruin any attempt made earlier to fidget away the distractions.
Besides, most classrooms won’t allow candy anyway. Save yourself the trouble, and don’t ask for permission for anything edible.
With that, let’s move on to the toys that do help your child focus.
Top 10 Fidget Toys for ADHD That Work
Each of these toys has helped actual students in actual classrooms focus. They may not have received rigorous scientific testing, but they’ve passed many a teacher’s individual tests.
We’ve grouped them according to movement, and given each a rating of 1 to 5 stars. All products on our list have at least 4 stars – there are a lot of fidget toys out there, and that lets us pick the best.
Fidget Toys for Legs
Our first two fidget toys focus on one irresistible ADHD urge – the need to kick or swing your legs while sitting.
1. Weighted Blankets
Heavy blankets have been used for years for kids with sensory issues, especially those on the autism spectrum. The extra pressure is soothing, and a mild invitation to resist against the weight – not too much, but just enough to quell the fidgets.
Blankets, though, would be embarrassing in class. A few companies have created more school-friendly solutions, among them the weighted lap pad. It’s as heavy as a weighted blanket, but nearly invisible to classmates.
We give the weighted lap pad 5 out of 5 stars.
- Calming Effect: Perfect for children who feel anxious, the Little Chubby One Sensory Weighted Lap Pad weighs 5 pounds to...
- Quality Construction: The Weighted Lap Pad is made with soft, minky fabric for optimal comfort, featuring...
- CALMING AND RELAXING - Does your child fidget and struggle to keep still in class? The relaxing pressure from this lap...
- BEST FEELING LAP PAD AVAILABLE - Made specifically to be enjoyable to the touch, your child will adore the soft and...
2. Bouncy Bands
This fidget tool is simple and brilliant – a giant rubber band, tied between the front legs of a school desk, which students can either kick against or rock back and forth on their heels.
Teachers who use them love them, so you’re likely to be successful if you ask your child’s instructor if he or she can use them in class. The bands are quiet, easily deflect your child’s energy, and easily installed and uninstalled.
Bouncy Bands get 5 of 5 stars, from both parent and teacher reviews.
- HELPS ALL STUDENTS – Bouncy Bands allow fidgety students to sit at their desk and move the band, relieving anxiety,...
- STAY ON TASK LONGER – When using a Bouncy Band to quietly move while working, kids stay on task 9.9% longer, which...
- HELPS ALL STUDENTS – Bouncy Bands allow fidgety middle and high school students to sit at their chair and move the...
- STAY ON TASK LONGER – When using a Bouncy Band to quietly move while working, kids stay on task 9.9% longer, which...
Fidget Toys for Mouths
When we think of fidgeting, our first thought as parents is ‘hands.’ That just means we’re likely not ADHD – because, half the time, a typical ADHD mind would think ‘mouths.’
It’s easy to fidget by chewing on something. It’s likely one of the minor factors that make ADHD kids more prone to smoking and substance abuse later in life.
Resisting nicotine is hard, but resisting the urge to fidget with something in your lips is nearly as hard, especially for an ADHD mind.
Giving your child something to chew might have longer-term benefits than you think. And if it helps classroom focus? That’s what we call a ‘win-win.’
3. Dog Tag Chewies
These are non-candy therapy chew toys, designed to remain innocuous until they’re used.
The tags are hardly visible in passing. They’re durable enough to withstand a semester of classes, and each has a raised baseball or football at the center for extra chewing and stimulation.
As an added bonus, the tags can easily slip underneath the shirt if your child is embarrassed.
Chewy dog tags and necklaces are more likely to be accepted by your child’s teacher than, say, gum. If chewing is the necessary fidgeting, these toys are the way to go.
Dog Tag Chewies get 5 of 5 stars.
- ★SAFE MATERIAL - 100% Food grade dog tag silicone chew pendant necklace for sensory kids, BPA free, phthalate free,...
- ★EASY TO CLEAN - Dog tag chewy necklace for boys girls is easy to clean in the dishwasher or wash underwater by...
- Chewelry Improves Focus & Calm - The Solace Chewelry necklace is the perfect sensory chew toy for anyone needing oral...
- Lasting Durability For Most Children - Our sensory chew necklace is made from a tear-resistant silicone designed...
4. Bite Bands
Bite Bands are chewable, non-candy necklaces. And before you feel disgusted, understand that they’re made for being chewed, spit, and salivated on all day.
(Which is to say, they absorb a great deal of moisture, and won’t embarrass your child.)
It’s probable, as a parent, that you want to discourage your child from chewing on his or her clothing. For severe ADHD kids, though, you may not have much of a choice. Bite Bands take the pressure off your child’s shirt, and put that pressure on a six-pack of necklaces designed to take the heat.
Bite Bands get 4 of 5 stars, due to the need for constant washing.
- Oral Stimulating Chew Necklaces – Designed for light to moderate chewers these chew bands necklaces help keep kids...
- Kid-Friendly Terry Cloth Fabric – Available in 6 vibrant colors our chew sensory necklaces come with a hook-and-loop...
- SAY GOODBYE TO CHEWED-UP SHIRTS: These fun colored Bite Bands help to redirect kids from chewing on their clothing or...
- SUPER ABSORBENT: Made from durable and absorbent terry cloth material, these soft chew bands soak up saliva unlike...
Fidget Toys for Hands
This category, of course, contains more toys than you could possibly dream of.
Hand fidget toys can be discreet, noisy, for one hand or two, for remaining calm, or gaining strength, or for developing motor skills. There’s no shortage of kids needing something to fidget with, and no shortage of creative ways to fill that need.
We’ve kept our focus here on toys that help kids concentrate in a classroom, but there’s a ton more that help develop strength and motor skills. Whatever your child’s needs are, there’s a toy that can help.
5. Grip Strength Trainer and Stress Ball
This is the best variant we’ve ever seen on the traditional stress ball – and unlike traditional stress balls, the Grip Strength Trainer doesn’t eventually split open, and spill its contents all over the classroom floor.
It’s a highly durable spring, tightly wound, and able to be squeezed in several different directions. It won’t break, it’s easily washed, and it won’t draw attention to itself.
In terms of single-hand fidgeting, the Grip Strength Trainer is the best we’ve seen for withstanding sheer physical tension.
Everyone loves this product. It gets 5 of 5 stars.
- 🗸 MOTIVATIONAL STRESS BALLS: Assortment of motivational quotes to help relieve various stressful situations. Squeeze...
- 🗸 PERFECT GIFT IDEA: For co-workers, parents, children, school teachers, or friends who need extra motivation,...
- (Pack of 2) SStretchy Ball! Squeezable Delicious , Bouncy and Soft makes it easy and safe for kids to use. For Children...
- Squishy Stress Relief Balls! Mold, pinch and squish this Stretchy Dough Ball in your hands at work for stress relief and...
FiddleLinks are on the opposite end of the hand spectrum as the Grip Strength Trainer. Whereas the latter rewards sheer physical strength, FiddleLinks rewards dexterity.
These lightweight, interlocking pieces are the result of a good deal of physical therapy research. If your child isn’t easily frustrated and doesn’t need strength in a fidget toy, this is the way to go.
FiddleLinks gets 5 of 5 stars.
- Fiddllink dexterity developer is a link based fidget tool for improving hand and finger fine motor skills, strength,...
- Easy: fiddllink is the easiest way to improve dexterity, endurance, circulation, speed, flexibility, fine motor skills,...
- 10 different Planes with a large variety of patterned papers
- Comes with 40 sheets of custom-designed paper
7. Ztylus Gadget Addix 3 in 1 Rattle Pen
That’s an awfully complicated name for what is, essentially, a pen. That’s kind of the point, though. Fidget tools are there to help your child concentrate, and finish schoolwork.
What can finish schoolwork better than a pen?
This, of course, is no ordinary pen.
The Ztylus has a fidget spinner on one end and a drill-like body, making it the ideal writing tool for the ADHD child. When writing, the pen’s body puts pressure on the fingers. When still, your child can spin the top.
Ztylus Gadget Pens get 4 of 5 stars – good for writing, but fidgeting is limited primarily to thumbs.
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND DURABLE: Made from T6063 aluminum, the Rattle Pen weighs in at only 2.5 ounces. It is extremely...
- SMOOTH WRITING EXPERIENCE: The smooth writing pen tip is 0.7mm fine point with black ultra-smooth ink. Create a more...
8. Palm Weights
These are some of the simplest and most effective fidget toys for ADHD of all. Like with the weighted lap pads, sometimes a little extra pressure is all that’s needed to help an ADHD mind focus.
A weighted beanbag, attached to the hand with a strap, is a surprisingly cheap way to help your child focus (and also improve his or her penmanship).
Palm Weights get 4 of 5 stars, due to limited fidget ability but advanced writing therapy.
- The 1/2 pound CanDo Palm Weights provide extra hand and wrist stability during writing and other fine motor activities....
- Designed by experts, perfect for use at home or in the classroom
This small interlocking toy is little more than two rings overlapping with and intersecting two joints. It’s maddeningly simple, and equally maddeningly effective.
Flippy Chain Fidget Toys help both ADHD and autistic children, fit right in your child’s pocket, and can be handled without anyone seeing or hearing anything. They’re quite literally the ideal fidget situation – a great concentration aid, without anyone else noticing.
They’re also no more than a few dollars, so there’s little downside to giving it a try.
Pro tip? Don’t try to save a few dollars by ordering from China. Lead, again, is a very slim risk, but a risk nonetheless – and lead avoidance is absolutely worth a few dollars.
Flippy Chains get 4 of 5 stars – quiet, but limited fidget ability.
- STRESS RELIEF - quiet fidget ideal for children and adults suffering from anxiety, ADD and/or ADHD
- SMOOTH, FLUID MOTION - provides a quiet, discrete, and calming solution for focus and relaxation
10. Monkey Rings
Monkey Rings, unlike the hand fidget toys for ADHD mentioned above, stimulate the wrists, and not the fingers.
These are basically spiked bracelets, which can interlock with one another or remain on the wrist one at a time. Pull on them, push them into the skin, or roll them back and forth across the forearm – any movement is safe, and any movement provides enough stimulation to help the ADHD child concentrate.
The fidgeting, too, is silent, which your child’s teacher will love.
Monkey Rings get 4 of 5 stars – limited fidget ability, but sharp sensory input.
- Whether in search of a new fidget toy or tactile / sensory toy, our spiky rings are perfect. Twist, throw, squeeze and...
- Made with 100% high-quality thermoplastic rubber, they are hypoallergenic, nontoxic, and free of BPAs, phthalates and...
- ※ OUTDOOR FUN CHOICE - Best Choice of Gymnastics Rings for kids backyard ninja warrior obstacle course. With heavy...
- ※ PORTABLE & EASY SETTING UP - Small volume for convenient carrying and easy setting up with strong hooks, it takes...
Can Fidget Toys Solve My Child’s ADHD Problem?
No, of course not. Nothing can replace medication and therapy.
Fooling your child’s brain into paying attention is not the same as training it to pay attention, or providing the medication it needs to pay attention on its own.
Fidget toys can, however, help your child avoid distractions in the classroom. This helps with social situations at school, with grades, and with the sense of accomplishment that so many ADHD kids desperately need.
For a few dollars, it’s absolutely worth a try.