The Art of Fidgeting and Some of our Recommended Fidgets
In recent years, the fidget toy industry has taken off to new levels and for good reason of course.
Did you know the kickstarter online fundraising campaign for the fidget cube raised US$6.4 million in 2017? Fidgets can be used in a variety of settings from the workplace to the school environment and even in therapy sessions thus leading to a multi-million dollar industry which has developed some of the most versatile, unique and therapeutic fidget tools.
So why all the hype and why do we fidget anyway?
Fidgeting occupies parts of your brain that otherwise would distract the rest of the brain and give you a sense of calm while maintaining attention and focus. Have you ever noticed your own behavior when sitting in a lengthy meeting? After some time, you may start to doodle, shake your legs or even need some sort of snack to reengage certain areas of the brain. This type of 'fidgeting' provides us with just the right amount of stimulation to keep us engaged and focused.
Moving our bodies is essential for keeping focused and attending to a task. Whether it be stretching, using a sit to stand desk, taking a washroom break or even biting our lips, movement is essential for homeostasis. Moving our bodies can assist with expressing ourselves more effectively as it also sharpens our cognitive skills. Making use of fidgets is another way to keep the body moving.
Fidgets are familiar habits that can be reassuring and comforting. Francesca Gino and Michael Norton described for Scientific American that some of the benefits of rituals and habits include calming and focusing the body. Repetitive movements such as shaking your leg, biting your nails or using a fidget cube can all become habits or rituals we adopt to give us a sense of familiarity, comfort and calmness.
Fidgets can also help create emotional attachments to an object. A sense of connectedness and emotional attachment are basic human needs. This can be satisfied with something familiar and comforting such as a favorite stuffed animal, blanket or fidget.
Top Tips for Implementing Fidgets for School Aged Children
Keep it simple; the less distracting a fidget, the more successful it will be at keeping your children engaged in the task at hand instead of the actual fidget being used.
Choose a fidget that your child can manipulate without looking at it. Fidgets that are easy to hold and don’t require eye-hand coordination are usually recommended for ease of use and simplicity. This ensures the fidgeting needs are being met and your child is attending to the task in the classroom and not to the fidget itself. Steer clear of fidgets such as fidget spinners which will require more eye-hand coordination.
Get creative! Meeting fidgeting needs does not always mean implementing a device your child can physically manipulate. Try a wiggle cushion during circle time, an exercise ball during seated work time or even tying a resistance band to the bottom legs of a chair so children can push their feet on the band when they have the urge to fidget.
Top Quality Recommended Fidgets
The truth is finding high quality fidget toys can be a cumbersome process. Because fidget toys are often manipulated, bent, twisted or squeezed, they are at risk of breaking easily. We have rounded up some of our top fidgets which are durable, high quality and guaranteed to last a long time.
This cubic robot made by Areaware is fun, esthetically appealing and can keep your children engaged during long car rides, restaurant visits and plane rides. This cubebot can be manipulated into many positions and if your child is up for the challenge, they can manipulate the robot back into the cube (instructions are included). This cubebot was featured in both of our Preschool and Elementary April boxes!
The magnatab is a sensory based activity with a metal stylus, bringing metal beads to the surface. Lightly pushing back down on the beads can feel quite calming and engaging for sensory seeking children. This device is also a great teaching tool as it comes in letter and number board versions. Toysmith recently has come up with a brand (Hi There!), which has created a smaller hand held version of the magnatab for easy portable use called the Magna Pop Art. You can still grab a portable magna pop art here in our build your own box options.
3. Stretchy Lizard Squishimal
There is nothing more satisfying than a squishy, stretchy, sandy fidget toy. This lizard squishimal by Toysmith is soft and crunchy offering a satisfying and calming sensation. It’s durable and a perfect portable option.
Snap and squeeze these hand fidgets, which are very useful for relieving anxiety and simultaneously work on hand strength. The popping and clicking of these fidgets creates a calming effect, which makes your children want to pop and squeeze over and over again.
The pop it fidget has taken the toy industry by storm. You will find many knock offs which do the job. From Halloween themed to Christmas themed to Dinosaur themed, you can find almost any type of pop it to suit your child's interests.
The sensy band is a perfect snap bracelet which offers a ribbed texture for sensory seeking children. It is a non intrusive fidget tool which can be used for children who are often picking at their skin, fidgeting or nail biting.
Fidget tools do seem to serve a valuable underlying purpose and are not just a new age fad. Supporting children to manage their behaviors, focus, attention and regulation through fidgets will be an ongoing endeavor as science has repeatedly proven there are numerous benefits to these tools, especially for children who may have certain special needs. There is no harm in using a trial and error approach when it comes to using fidgets; after all you just might be pleasantly surprised at just how well the anxiety and stress levels can be managed by adopting these tools.