Are Fidget Toys for Children Effective?
Unfortunately, some children have not developed acceptable strategies to reduce stress. Instead, they are often unable to sit still, make eye contact for conversations or to concentrate for any length of time. Sometimes this inattentiveness is harmful to their ability for learning.
So, if you have a child who seems distracted or can’t sit still, it is a good idea to try a fidget toy to help reduce stress and allow them to concentrate while you are speaking to them, or to calm themselves when they are reading or doing school-work.
In addition, many of the identified exceptionalities for children have inattentiveness and excessive need for movement as part of their indictors. Fidget toys can help kids with many different types of exceptionalities stay focused on the task on which they are working, thereby allowing them to benefit from their investigations.
Fidgets are useful at home but they also are integral to continued progress at school. More about fidget toys at school.
Fidget Toys in Society
Family Support: There may be members of your immediate or extended family who will show concern about using such a tool. They may view it as unnecessary or as a crutch. Careful explanations about its purpose may help them understand the positive effect of the tool.
But the bottom line is that you are trying strategies to support your child. This is your responsibility. Other people’s meddling is not helpful at all.
You can quietly support your child with assertive statements such as “ ______ has really benefitted from using _________. We will continue as long as it is working for us. Hopefully, you can help us with this situation.” Be assertive without being confrontational or emotional.
Out and About: If the fidget toy is quite small, it is unlikely that it will attract unwanted attention by strangers. However, they may be some interested individuals who may wonder about the special bracelet or the lump of plasticine in your child’s hand. How do you respond to any of these inquiries? With honesty. You can say something like “This is a fidget toy. It helps my child remain calm in stressful situations.” Again, remain calm during your explanation and be willing to help others understand how useful these tools and strategies can be for comfort.
How do I Introduce the Fidget Toy?
If the child is old enough to understand the concept of self-control, you can explain the use of a fidget toy and ask them to select one to try out. Try using the fidget in a time of low stress, such as sitting at the breakfast table, packing the school bag or brushing their teeth.
Remind the child of the purpose as you hand them the fidget. It takes at least 20 times to introduce a habit, so be patient with the process. It might be helpful to keep the tool in your child’s pocket so it is available at all times.
If the child is too young to understand the process of self-control, try introducing the fidget casually. Manipulate the tool in front of him or her and then if they show an interest, give them the tool to try out. Give the fidget a name or just call it fidget. Then you can refer to it while mentioning its usefulness.
“Your fidget helps you sit still and enjoy breakfast with your brother and me.” Keep the language neutral and the tone without any blame.
This introduction will take repeated attempts but once a pattern has been established you can use the fidget as a calming mechanism. You can model the behavior for your child by using your own fidget tool as well, especially when you might show anxiety such as waiting for an important phone call.
Selecting the Right Fidget Tool
How will I know which fidget toy to buy? The simple answer is experimentation and observation. There are many types to consider but it all comes down to the child’s personal choice. Since these tools are not expensive, you may want to select several to purchase and then expand on the one type that is most effective. Giving your child choices from a select small group of fidgets is key to your success. You may want to suggest to your child to change it up every so often for variety. But don’t be surprised if they want to carry on with their favorite fidget toy. That’s just fine, too.
Benefits of a Fidget Tool
One of the biggest benefits of a fidget tool is that it will extend the length of time your child can concentrate. Your child will be able to attend to the entire lesson or casual conversations around the dinner table without losing interest. Your child will be more in sync with what is going on around him or her. You will have the confidence that strategies for concentration do work.
The positive outcomes of the fidget toy demonstrate that with strategies, it is possible for learning to be more effective. The fidget tool may be the first strategy you use with your child to enhance learning. With confidence of its effectiveness, you can look for more strategies to boost learning capacity.