How Play Benefits Children with ADHD

Play, the language of children. How can it be used as therapy? How does play strengthen relationships? Here’s info for parents on how play can help ADHD.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) doesn’t make parenting any easier, but when parents are open-minded about therapy options, managing ADHD can become less stressful. Beyond traditional treatments, like medication and cognitive-behavioral counseling, complementing therapies abound. One of the approaches experts believe boosts the effectiveness of treatment is play therapy.

Family Play and Learn describes play as the language of children. Play’s benefits are threefold in that it helps children understand their world, helps parents understand their children, and thus strengthens child-parent relationships.

ADHD complicates play because its symptoms can often negatively impact peer relationships. Many kids with ADHD have trouble sitting, paying attention, and waiting their turn. They can quickly become outcasts on the playground. It can be frustrating to parents who try to initiate one-on-one play sessions because children may try to stop activities before they’re complete, straying from the game at hand.

The Family Play and Learn article offers specific tips for how to make the most of a play session with your child, including several for structuring time.

Play at Home Versus Play Therapy

Outside of the home, play is considered a dynamic addition to therapy for children ages 3-10. Adventure-based play (which is discussed in an article on, “Adding Adventure and Play to Treatment of ADHD”) complements drug therapy and may be more effective than basic behavioral treatment alone. Parents can learn more about play therapy by visiting the Association for Play Therapy at

Find out more: lists the best toys and games for kids with ADHD. makes a strong case for taking the fun outdoors. offers the best after-school activities for children with ADHD.


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Originally Published in Reader's Digest