How Fidget Toys Can Make Back to School a Breeze (Even if Your Child Feels Anxious)
By Doodle Hog
Going back to school is both stressful and exciting for kids and their parents. Kids often feel anxious about meeting their new teachers, making friends, and settling into a new routine. Parents want to see their children thrive in school and try hard to make the transition smooth and easy. But if your child battles anxiety, this can be a real challenge. Many anxious kids find that bringing fidget toys to school helps a lot.
We’ll look at why they work and share our list of fidget toys worth trying.
ADHD AND ANXIETY GO BACK TO SCHOOL, TOO
Anxiety is pervasive in school-aged children. Research shows that anxiety disorders affect 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years. That’s 4.4 million children. Anxiety makes school more difficult for children. It can be challenging for them to listen in class, sit still, and even interact with their classmates. Fidgeting is a common coping mechanism students use as an outlet for their stress.
When you have an anxious child, everyday life can feel like a struggle. When anxiety causes constant fidgeting, it can be hard for your child to do things like pay attention in class, socialize, and focus on schoolwork. Being a kid with anxiety is hard enough. With all the new information and expectations that come with starting a new school year, now can be an especially stressful time for anxious kids.
ADHD is another contributor to anxiety for kids in elementary school. 9.4% of children ages 2 to 17 (approximately 6.1 million children) have an ADHD diagnosis. Widespread attention deficit disorder can really impact a classroom. Both the children who are directly affected and their classmates have a hard time focusing.
“YOUR CHILD JUST CAN’T SEEM TO SIT STILL”
You may have already gotten that message from your child’s teacher. That’s why you’re looking for creative strategies to help your child focus at school. It’s not just about helping your child sit still and focus on assignments.
Some children may even get in trouble in class for being distracting due to fidgeting too much or too loudly. One way this behavior might show up is called stimming. Stimming involves self-stimulating repetitive behaviors that provide an outlet for nervous energy. For kids dealing with anxiety, this often becomes another source of stress. More stress perpetuates the cycle and makes kids even more anxious about going to school.
Medication has its place. That’s a conversation that belongs to parents, children, and health providers. But for families looking for non-pharmaceutical ways to help ease their anxious child into the new school year, fidget toys may be just the solution.
WHAT ARE FIDGET TOYS?
Fidget toys provide a tactile outlet to release stress. Kids struggling with constant fidgeting and stimming can use fidget toys to release nervous energy. They help users focus on their schoolwork, relieve restlessness, and help with anger issues. Fidget toys can also be beneficial for children on the autism spectrum who stim to relieve stress. The release of dopamine from fidget toys can help soothe restlessness and anxiety, which can be triggered by sitting still in class.
Fidgeting most often occurs when a child feels anxious or bored, which can make it hard for a child to focus on the task at hand. Fidget toys give kids something to do with their hands. That allows their brain to pay attention in school when it’s time to listen in class, read, or do schoolwork. Fidgeting can even help improve memory and allow kids to retain more information they learn in class. Some are often quiet or silent, which means they can be used in class without disrupting the teacher or other students.
WHAT KIND OF FIDGET TOYS WORK?
There’s a huge variety of fidget toys available. But there are three we want to discuss. After all, different types of fidget toys will be ideal for your child depending on various factors such as noise level, functions, safety, and personal preference.
- Fidget spinners: As popular as they are noisy, fidget spinners were everywhere a while back. Teachers are divided between thinking fidget spinners are the worst invention ever – and the best. If they’re small enough, they can fit in a pocket.
- Fidget cubes: Users flip, roll, and click various buttons and dials to keep anxious fingers busy rather than tapping on a desk or fidgeting in a way that’s distracting to others. Quieter than their spinning ancestors, fidget cubes are a bit more popular with teachers. Just be sure to test it out at home first to see whether it’ll work in a classroom setting.
- Squishies: Squishies are made of soft, squishable materials and allow the user to squish, roll, pinch, and twist the toy. For classroom use, squishies may be ideal because they are silent. They can easily fit in a backpack. Plus, they’re easy and fun to make.
ONE MORE THING…
Whichever fidget toys you try, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Fidget toys should be age-appropriate, meaning they’re the right size for your child to hold in their hand and not too complex for them to use.
- For smaller toys, make sure your child is old enough that they’re not prone to putting things in their mouth so it won’t be a choking hazard.
- Check that the toy is made well enough that it’s not going to break after one use. Fidget toys should be made to withstand hours of fiddling.
Fidgeting is a common way that anxious kids self-regulate and handle stress. So, fidget toys are a great way to help them rebalance their senses and release their nerves. Fidget toys help the brain release dopamine. Continued use can help kids relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Having their own fidget toys to use when they go back to school can help kids feel more prepared and excited about this new phase in their lives. If you decide to make one of our squishy fidget toys like this alpaca squishies kit, we’d love to see what you create!
About Doodle Hog
Doodle Hog art supplies and craft kits are ideal for young kids just beginning to draw and color as well as tweens, teens and adults who are looking to pick up a new hobby. To learn more and to purchase Doodle Hog art supplies and craft kits visit: www.DoodleHog.com or the Doodle Hog Amazon Store.
*Photos courtesy of Doodle Hog