ADHD, play and young children

The home environment is the first learning environment for your child. Engaging your child in play experiences and everyday tasks will help to develop their interests and skills for future leisure activities. The challenge for you as a parent who has a child with a diagnosis of ADHD is to build structures around activities to begin to manage the symptoms displayed by your child which could be impulsivity, hyperactivity, poor attention and emerging social and communication skills.


It is never too early to put a routine in place as this will help your child to understand what is required of them and as a member of a family unit they cannot always be the centre of attention. Structures are important alongside routine as this will bring a sense of predictability for your child and they will be better able to manage things.

Let’s have a look at some ways of managing this:


It may be difficult for a child who has ADHD to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time. Try sitting on the floor or on a chair with your child between your legs or on your lap for a story or a game. Gradually extend the time that you do this with your child. Make sure that mealtimes are sitting at the table times, put in place expectations now so that your child knows that this is a not negotiable. You are developing social skills for the future.


If you can develop your child’s attention skills early on this will help them into the future. Consider bringing only a couple of toys out to play and have your child focus on playing with these. If there are too many toys your child will just gravitate from one to the other without completing tasks.


You know your child is on the go almost all the time. Build in activities that meet these needs as part of their routine. Trike riding, trampoline, ball games, chasey will all expend some energy and develop motor and communication skills at the same time.


While technology devices are a valuable tool for learning and play, time using them needs to be limited. Technology can over stimulate your child with ADHD and this is the last thing you need. It is advisable not to have technology before bedtime and not to have any devices in your child’s bedroom.


Children learn many skills through play. Play games where you have to take turns, this will help your child to understand that they have to wait and communicate with another person. Games where there are winners and losers will also teach your child self control, essential to helping them with their impulsivity, social and communication skills.

Put in place a routine around all of these activities. By this we mean which part of the day these activities will occur, this will help your child understand what is happening. A routine is not something that is rigid, it can be changed. Sit with your child and tell them and/or provide a schedule to help them understand what is going to happen during the day. We all like to know what is happening in our day so we can prepare, our children are the same.

As you are engaging with your child in play watch their skills develop. How quickly have they been able to increase their attention to the activities? Is their hyperactivity being reduced? Has impulsivity decreased and have social and communication skills developed over time? This is an important development period for your child and it is equally important for you to have fun with your child.

If you have concerns that their might be something else hindering your child’s development such as Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) or an Intellectual Disability(ID) then there will be further things to consider and more support strategies to be put in place.

Sorry, this article is for subscribers only.

Subscribe now to unlock this article,
plus a range of exclusive member benefits:

Sign up today for our 15 day FREE trial

Membership costs just $9.95 per month (AUD) for unlimited access. There’s no lock in contracts and no cancellation fees.

Subscribe now and start exploring the benefits:

  • Over 350 online resources
  • ASD, ID & ADHD support
  • Written & visual tools
  • All learning abilities
  • Ready-to-use downloads
  • Global online community
  • Events, workshops & seminars
  • Login anywhere, anytime!
  • No lock in contracts

Find out more →

Join Login