BACKGROUND: The top selling toy today is nothing more than a gadget with three weighted prongs that spin and spin on one's fingers. They've existed in some form since 1993 and lately have grown so popular since some manufacturers are touting their therapeutic benefits for children with autism, anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
The alleged mental benefits of the toys have helped fuel their sales, but even a cursory look at the nonexistent science -- and the history -- of the spinners makes it clear these claims are specious at best. Fidget spinners weren't created by behavioral scientists with deep knowledge of intellectual disability nor were they created by experts in a lab; they were patented by an inventor from Florida named Catherine Hettinger who wanted to promote World Peace.
Hettinger's spinner never took:off. Her patent expired in 2005, and the spinner spun into obscurity until earlier this year, when a series of YouTube videos featuring teenagers doing tricks with them went viral. Now to the serious matter of......is this something that will enhance your child's Life?
The brain has the magical ability to rewire itself. We live in the world that offers our brains instant gratification, which works just like a drug. The more instant gratification we offer our brains, the more our brains crave it.
With the best of intentions, we have rewired the brains of this entire generation of children to expect instant gratification, by offering them IPads, videogames, and depriving their brains of opportunities for boredom, responsibilities, and limits. Children come to school emotionally unavailable to learn. Their brains are unable to function under lower levels of stimulation, and expect special effects at all times. Unfortunately, real life can’t offer their brains what we promised; compared to the stimulation offered by the screens, real life is boring. Life requires the brain to work through boredom, which these children can’t tolerate so they become fidgety the moment their brains perceive even minor “boredom”.
There are a few kids that do require fidgets. However, even for these kids, the fidgets are just a quick fix. These children require a much deeper approach to help them concentrate. In many cases, if a child needs fidgets, it means that his brain is overly stimulated and he actually needs help calming his brain down rather than further
stimulating it. Here are some suggestions that will minimize your child’s need for fidgeting:
- Teach children that “boredom” is a normal state of human emotions. Help children to recognize the signs of boredom and help them develop functional strategies to deal with it. Don’t take the responsibility of constantly entertaining your kids, as they need to learn to self-regulate through boredom.
- Put a conscious effort to train your child’s delayed gratification skills. Avoid using technological babysitters in cars and restaurants and train his ability to just sit and wait. Teach your child to sit at a table until everyone finishes eating. Limit snacking between meals.
- Limit your child’s access to technology. In addition, unplug from your phone and share quality time with your child.
- Offer your child opportunities to spend time outdoors, especially in green space.
- Provide regular opportunities for high intensity, high duration exercises such as biking, hiking.
- Bring calmness into their lives by listening to calm music, sitting around a fireplace, having a calming bath, reading a book, drawing, or playing board games.
- Offer plenty of sleep in technology free bedrooms.
- Train your child’s ability to complete monotonous work, such as helping with cooking, setting a table, making his/her bed, or folding clothes.
- If your child truly needs a fidget, provide him/her with a low stimulation fidget, such as a stress ball.
The Way I See It......parents, we are failing our children! Their future is in our hands. Provide children with what is truly and deeply good for them, instead of highly stimulating quick fixes.