Play Therapy Techniques and Games to Try at Home

Many children best express and challenge themselves through play. Using games and activities to encourage growth is the cornerstone of play therapy. Learn how you can teach valuable life skills to children of all ages with these recommended toys and games.

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Simple Board Games for ADHD Children

The less complicated and more low-tech the game is, the better it works for ADHD kids. High tech games can be over stimulating, complicated games that end up being too frustrating. The following classic board games can help enhance ADHD kids' social and cognitive skills:


The Memory Game (Milton Bradley): This simple game helps increase attention span and memory. It requires players match their cards with others that are turned face down. If you turn a card face up and it doesn't match your card, you have to put it back face down. The challenge is to remember the cards that have been put back down, so you can pair them with your cards when matches come up. Whoever gets the most matches wins.

How to use it: Gauge your child's frustration level with this game to see how long you can play while keeping your child's focus. With younger or less focused children, set up the game so that matching cards are closer together, they'll be more likely to find a match this way. Gradually increase the challenge by scattering the cards and forcing your child to go farther in the visual field to find a match.


Chinese Checkers: Chinese Checkers works for ADHD kids because it's simple, yet it requires a bit of strategy. The challenge is simple; just get your men from this end to that end, but children will learn over time that if they problem solve and think ahead about where they're going, they can get there a lot faster.


Chutes and Ladders (Milton Bradley): Children with ADHD experience increased frustration over anticipating success and dealing with failure. Chutes and Ladders is an excellent way to help kids build frustration tolerance and get over failures quickly. The objective is simple: move the players along a trail toward the top of the board, climbing up ladders or sliding down chutes when you land on them. Frustration can result from landing on a chute and going from leader to loser instantly.

How to use it: Take this opportunity to discuss successes (climbing ladders) and failures (sliding down chutes). Help children practice how to manage failure, and stress the importance of recovering quickly from disappointments.


Clue (Milton Bradley): Clue is a crime solving game where players determine who committed a crime through process of elimination. This game forces children to think about the information they have and don't have -- a real challenge for kids with ADHD. They'll also learn to use information to solve problems, rather than act on their feelings before thinking about the consequences. Within the safe confines of a game like Clue, children learn quickly that impulsive actions usually are counterproductive. This game also practices organization and prioritization skills.

More on Building ADHD Social Skills

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Dealing with Socially Immature ADHD Children

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Screen Time Limits and Transitions
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TAGS: ADHD Kids Making Friends, ADHD Toys and Games

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