Squirrel Bingo: The Game That Makes You Feel Good, Positive, and Confident
Those with ADHD spend more time feeling ashamed than accomplished. You can reverse that by focusing on what is improving in your life.
A while back, I was a client in a group coaching program for attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). We spent lots of time discussing the negative aspects of ADHD and how to mitigate them. It was a good program, and the other participants and I bonded. But I found myself searching for a more positive mindset. I wanted to focus on what was working and what was improving, and how I could keep it going with more consistency.
At the time, I was also studying ADHD coaching. When the group ended, I decided to offer all of my fellow participants an ongoing opportunity to check in with one another. My idea was that we could meet periodically to support each other and share tips and ideas for improving our lives and brain function. To drive the positive focus home, I named the group Good Vibe Squirrel Tribe.
The first order of Squirrel Tribe business was to find ways to foster a healthy, fun, feel-good mindset. The game Squirrel Bingo was born, and it was a hit. The game has since been enjoyed by clients of all ages who love customizing and playing their cards as they go through their everyday lives.
There Is Only One Rule with This Game: No Shame!
Squirrel Bingo helps build desirable habits through game-playing and positive feedback. It is a way to focus on cultivating positive behaviors. It is fun for all ages, good for these at any stage of development, and can be played alone or as a group or family. No one gets left out, and there is only one rule: no shame!
Create a bingo card by drawing 25 squares. In each square, write down a behavior or goal — things you want to remember to do more often or good habits that you want to encourage. Enjoy the brainstorming process, but don’t dwell on it. It is a game after all.
Set the Bar for Success Very Low
Squirrel Bingo encourages you to focus on doing the right things by filling in the bingo card squares with behaviors that are under your control. Checking off things will cause you to feel good about what you have accomplished. So, as one client put it, you should “set the bar for success so low that you can roll over it.” You should be able to check at least one thing off every day; the point is to feel good! When you check off five squares horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, shout “Bingo” and reward yourself.
My clients have come up with all types of behaviors to write down on their cards. They have used squares to focus on positive habits related to health (“ate a healthy meal” or “exercised”), time management (“left for work/school on time” or “limited video games to 10 minutes”), working memory (“closed kitchen cabinets” or “remembered someone’s name”), tasks (“finished wrapping gifts” or “shoveled driveway”), self-care (“meditated” or “used positive self-talk”), and many more.
Some players report that their main challenge is remembering to come back to the card to mark things off, so the game works best when you put your card somewhere you will see it frequently — on the refrigerator, a mirror, the front of school notebooks, or an office wall.
Pay Attention to What You’re Doing Well
Seeing your card and marking it off serves as a reminder to pay attention to what you are doing well. This shift in focus is important for those of us with ADHD because we focus mostly on what isn’t working, rather than what is. Squirrel Bingo helps us to see our efforts in a better light, and encourages us to focus on what we can control. Now put up that card, start looking for positive behaviors, and begin playing!
A Board Game You Won’t Get Bored With
Individuals of any age can make and play their own bingo cards. Families or groups playing together often prefer to share a card. Those sharing will want to assign each person their own behavioral squares, placed at random on the card. The behaviors can be different for each person, but they don’t have to be. If you have three children and want to encourage them to make their beds, you can have three squares, one for each child, that say “(child’s name) made bed.”
When more players participate, everyone reminds the others that the game is afoot, and encourages them to complete the behaviors. Prepare yourself: You may hear your kids reminding one another to actually make their beds!