Concentration Exercises for Children With ADHD

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the result of a chemical imbalance in the body, much like diabetes. Like diabetes, that imbalance is best treated with medication. Also like diabetes, lifestyle decisions can greatly affect both the effectiveness and necessity of the medication itself. For children with ADHD, many activities can help build concentration both as a skill and by directly addressing the root chemical problem.

Free Outdoor Play

According to Richard Louv in "Last Child in the Woods," recent research suggests that 30 minutes of free outdoor play can as effectively change the behavior of a child with ADHD as a mild to moderate dose of medication. As of 2008, no research had determined why this is so, or even why the play had to be outdoors. Only the initial results had been tallied, not the reasons for them.


In children without ADHD, exercise allows concentration by eliminated excess energy. In children with ADHD, exercise combats the problem neurochemicals by stimulating the brain’s own chemical production of neurotransmitters that aid concentration. Any sport or active game will help a child with ADHD concentrate during the hours after the game. A light workout is best for this purpose, as an ADHD patient who becomes overtired will actually lose the ability to concentrate altogether.

Memory Games

Memory games build concentration by encouraging students to pay attention over an extended period of time. Missing out on a few minutes’ play can mean the difference between success and failure. One common example is the memory card game. Spread out a set of paired cards facedown. Each player turns over two cards during his turn. If the cards match, the player keeps those cards. The winner will be the player best able to pay attention not only during his turn, but during all the other turns as well.

Video Games

Recent work by Psychologist Joseph Sandford has shown that video games can actually help increase attention span and concentration in children with and without ADHD. Any parent can tell you that just by observing how long their children can play video games without stopping. Sandford has even taken this research so far as to create a video game specifically designed to maximize the benefits of video game play for improving ADHD symptoms.

Fast Twitch Games

Games and sports that require an immediate, fast-twitch response will help build concentration. Like memory games, the winner is the person who can concentrate the longest. Some sports examples include fencing and soccer, where a player must focus while waiting for his opportunity to move. When the opportunity comes, he must respond immediately. A common game that uses fast-twitch response is the hand slap game. One player holds both hands out, palms up. The other places his hands palms down on top. The bottom player can, at any time, flip his hand to slap the top of the other player’s hand. If the top player responds fast enough to dodge the slap, then he takes the bottom position.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the result of a chemical imbalance in the body