How to Practice ADHD Play Therapy at Home

Many child psychiatrists and psychologists believe that play therapy is an integral way to teach social skills, calm anxiety, and improve self-esteem in children with ADHD and related neurobiological conditions. Here, learn about the toys, techniques, and activities parents can use at home to play smarter.

Play Therapy Techniques, Toys, and Activities

Writer and mother Megan Tietz found that a little play therapy with her two girls improves their behavior and attitude. She recommends four games in her blog on

Start With Play
I start the day by taking my girls outside and playing with them. We run in the grass, we dig in the dirt, we color the sidewalks with chalk, and then we head inside for baths, ready to start the day. I have noticed less whining and clinginess since we started this routine.

Toys That Help
Both of my girls adore puppets, which can redirect their emotions when they’re angry or sad. I transform my hand into a puppet character that can swoop in and intervene whenever it is called upon. A hand that talks in a silly voice gets my children to smile — and to reframe an upsetting situation.

Shake It Out
When mean words start flying, I say to the grouchy child, “Oh, no! Listen to those Meanies coming out of you. Let’s just shake them all out right now!” Then I scoop her up in my arms, flip her upside down, and gently shake the crankies away. Neither of my girls can resist it — and the one who wasn’t being grouchy usually wants a good shaking, too!

Fantasy Play
One day our two-year-old was angry about not being able to go to the zoo. Instead of trying to explain that it was too hot for the animals to be out, and we would all be cranky and disappointed, I said, “I wish we had a zoo in our backyard. Wouldn’t that be so cool? What animals would you like to have in a backyard zoo? Oh, yes, definitely crocodiles. How about giraffes? Yes, and hippos, too! Hey, let’s draw a picture of our backyard zoo!” Creating a fantasy smoothes over feelings of frustration and disappointment that are often the source of unpleasant behaviors.

More on Fun and Play for Children with ADHD

Can Time Spent Outdoors Treat ADHD?

Smart Exercises to Improve ADHD Brains

Sports for Children with ADHD

ADHD-Friendly Toys


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TAGS: ADHD Toys and Games, ADHD Symptoms, Depression, ADHD and Anxiety, Behavior in ADHD Kids

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