Can Fidget Toys Help Your Child’s Ability To Focus?

We all fidget – some of us more than others, but when the subject of fidgeting and children is raised, you might be surprised at what many experts are saying.

Stress Cube

Fidgeting is our body’s way of releasing restless energy. Common types of fidgeting include foot tapping, hair twirling or nail biting. While many consider these activities counterproductive to learning, many experts state that if these fidgeting behaviors can be re-directed, they can actually enhance learning.

Enter “Fidget Toys.” Fidget toys are self-regulation tools to help with focus, attention, calming, and active listening. There are many different types of fidget toys, ranging from squeezable stress balls to bendable sticks to malleable putty. In recent months however, fidget spinners and fidget cubes have become very popular items among not only children but adults as well.

Regardless of the type of toy used, the goal is the same – to help focus attention and improve learning ability. In fact, research indicates that most children learn better when their hands are active and funneling expandable energy in this manner allows them to better focus on what they are trying to learn. In addition, experts have concluded that movement is essential for learning because the learner is required to use both the left and right sides of their brain.

In a recent case study, the positive effects of fidget toys were observed. The result was a 10% increase in certain academic scores among students who used fidget toys. Even more impressive was that students diagnosed with ADHD saw an increase of 27% in the academic scores. The study concludes that the use of fidget toys can benefit the learning process in all students but especially in those with learning disabilities.

In addition to the improved learning benefits, fidget toys can also reduce anxiety and stress, enhance dexterity, improve coordination and fine motor skills and assist in the development of muscles of small hands.

Fidget toys are appropriate for all ages and genders and most developmental abilities. Many parents will learn that the effectiveness of these objects can diminish over time, so it is suggested to alternate toys. It is also recommended that parents speak to their child’s teacher or principal before they consider bringing fidget toys to school.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is There a Connection Between Sugar Consumption and Childhood Hyperactivity?

“He’s going be up all night after eating all that sugar” It’s a common phrase that all parents say while they watch their children run around at a birthday party. We have long believed that there is a direct correlation with sugar intake and hyperactivity in children, but is it true?

Portrait of a young girl holding a slice of cake

The fact is sugar consumption doesn’t change a child’s behavior. Multiple studies have been conducted and found that a sugary diet doesn’t affect mood or cognitive abilities. Using double blind studies, researchers observed two groups of children, one group was given sugary substances; the other group was given a placebo. The findings concluded that no noticeable changes in behavior were observed between the two groups.

So why do parents believe there is a connection? A separate study suggests that often, a parent’s expectations can affect their perceptions. It was observed that parents who believed their child’s behavior is affected by sugar consumption noticed hyperactive behaviors when they were led to believe the child had a sugary drink – even if they hadn’t.

Another reason why some parents think there child becomes hyperactive after having a high-sugar diet is the resulting “crash” that sometimes follows. Internally, when blood sugar levels rise quickly, the body produces a large amount of insulin to sweep the sugar out of the blood stream, which can result in a child becoming sluggish. The low blood sugar levels can then trigger a craving for more sweets, creating a “roller coaster” effect that can be misconstrued as hyperactivity.

This by no means suggests that a high sugar diet is good for children. Most experts will agree to choose healthy options and reserve sugary snacks as once in a while treats. A high sugar diet can lead to childhood obesity, diabetes, and oral problems.

Parents looking for reasons why their child might be hyperactive can look to other factors such as, sleep problems, emotional disturbances, learning disorders (such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), or general temperament.

Consult with your pediatrician if you think your child is hyperactive. If you do not have a pediatrician, Flushing Hospital’s Pediatric Ambulatory Care Center has many qualified doctors who can help. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-670-3007.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.