Fidgeting Alternatives

By now you may be the proud owner of a fidget or perhaps even a collection of professionally designed fidgets. You've witnessed or personally experienced the positive impact of fidgeting: sharper focus, increased calm, and self-regulation to name a few.

Fidgeting helps many people function better. However, to avoid going into overdrive with intense or frequent fidgeting, read on. There are alternative interventions that you can introduce before a time of stress or concentration, or as a sensory break.

  1. Large Motor Movement: Motor planning and movement can reduce the need to fidget. Try jumping up and down, taking a walk, or climbing. An Action Room in your home or school can support movement at regular intervals, relieving classroom fidgeting as well improving mood and behavior. Set up a mini trampoline or a jumping board nearby for a quick release. Mount a Leg Board on the wall for a core workout, engaging the mind and body.  
Action Room - Fidgeting Alternatives
Action Room
Leg Board - Fidgeting Alternatives
InterAction Leg Board
  2. Vestibular Activities: Swinging can awaken the entire body and have a profound effect on the need to fidget. An action swing where the individual is pumping is best but even a hammock swing can do wonders. While grasping onto the ropes of a string, the hands are getting a great workout and the entire body is receiving the sensory input for self-regulation. Intensity is often the key here, and a wild ride can be just the ticket to creating a calm after-affect.  
Action Swing - Fidgeting Alternatives
Buoy Ball Swing
Hammock Swing - Fidgeting Alternatives
Hammock Swing
3. Eye-Hand Coordination: Playing a game of Simon Says or learning to catch and toss can use the hands in a productive away. Even just bouncing a ball, tossing beanbags into a target or working a maze can do wonders. I really like those small eye hand games like paddle ball or playing with a yoyo for a great brain-body connection effect. Even a ball of aluminum foil can provide a great fun game of catch.  
Bean Bags - Fidgeting Alternatives
Bean Bags
Round Plush Maze - Fidgeting Alternatives
Round Plush Maze

But I do love balls and toys that have sensory effects and tactile surfaces for a holistic experience. Try taking a piece of PVC pipe and threading a set of scarves through the middle. Then have the kids pull the scarves through. This is a great eye-hand and coordination activity. For another group activity, use a Crocodile Board with a maze, interlocking gears, and music makers.

Scarves - Fidgeting Alternatives
Hand Eye Coordination Scarves Set
InterAction Crocodile Board - Fidgeting Alternatives
InterAction Crocodile Board
  4. Heavy Hand Work. Cooking, baking, washing dishes, art and music (piano, guitar or violin lessons anyone?) can all provide heavy handwork around your home. In addition, putty and sand can provide a terrific workout for the hands. For older teens and adults, working with screwdrivers, hammers and wrenches can provide a great outlet for the hands and reduce fidgeting.
Therapy Putty - Fidgeting Alternatives
Glo Putty
At the Beach Weighted Sand Kit - Fidgeting Alternatives
At the Beach Weighted Sand Kit
5. Take a Deep Breath. Probably one of the most overlooked sensory filters is deep breathing. Try it while meditating, singing, playing wind instruments or even while blowing bubbles and sipping through straws. The youngest children can be taught to use deep breathing to calm their nervous system. This can have a profound effect on their ability to attend and regulate sensory information.

Whistle, Breathe and Blow Straws - Fidgeting Alternatives

Chewy Straws
  Still want to fidget? No worries! Just remember that adding other sensory outlets can reduce the need for constant fidgeting, minimize distractions, and provide additional sensory support for self-regulation.