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Fidget to Pay Attention

Distracted? Not Paying Attention?

Is there anyone alive who hasn’t been admonished to pay attention? We’re all prone to distraction. When we’re absentminded, daydreaming, or preoccupied, our minds are miles away. We’re not alert and observant, not on the ball. That can be deadly. Think of the consequences of texting while driving. Fortunately most inattentive moments are not that disastrous.

Even so, getting the most from any activity requires being engaged. Many children and adults aren’t wired to sit still and pay attention. They’re restless, as if they actually have ants in their pants. Their constant squirming prevents them from focusing. Impedes their learning. And ultimately causes disruption. Finding ways to cope is critical.

Counter Intuitive Solution

The solution is counter intuitive for those of us who recall teachers scolding doodlers for not paying attention. By doodling the student was actually self-regulating. Having discovered a way to calm her ants, the doodler could listen and learn.

That’s the key. Figuring out ways to convert restlessness into controlled movement enhances focus. The sensory input of the activity enables self-regulation. We can pay attention. But that’s only half of its benefit. The motion itself involves crossing the midline, the imaginary line bisecting the body from top to bottom. The two hemispheres of the brain are connected by the corpus callosum, the site of the largest concentration of white matter in the brain. This white matter facilitates communication between the hemispheres. What we learn crosses the midline and gets disseminated throughout the brain. Consequently learning improves.

Fidget Toys

Fidget toys are an easy way for kids and adults alike to redirect their restlessness into controlled movement. Think stress balls. Transferring the ball from hand to hand. Squeezing. Pressing down with the palm and rolling the ball back and forth on a flat surface. Flattening the ball. All these activities involve controlled movement and relieve stress, making paying attention easier.

Stress Balls for All Situations

Some stress balls are smooth, others spiky. Some light up. Still others make a sound. What works best depends on individual preference and the situation. Sensory seekers prefer the tactile input of a spiky ball. The most tactilely defensive may dislike the feel of all of the balls. In a classroom or a meeting, a light-up or sound ball could be a distraction to others. One is never enough. Best to have multiples and keep one handy in all the places you’ll likely to need one. What’s your favorite?

Smooth and squeezable, Bead Ball and DNA Ball are quiet stress balls. 

Glitter Bead Ball makes a soft crunching sound, reminiscent of walking on hard packed snow.

Light Up DNA Ball and Flashing Spiky Ball are all about flashing light. Light Up DNA is smooth, soft, and squeezable. Flashing Spiky features soft spikes and flashes when bounced or whacked against a flat surface.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play