Fidgeting in a child with Anxiety or ADHD can result from excess energy or hyperactivity. It can serve as a release of tension and nervousness resulting from the student being confined to their desk. Although fidgeting can be interpreted misbehavior, defiance, or as something the child can control, the reality is that fidgeting is often an automatic response, so much so that the child can even be mostly unaware that he/she is fidgeting.
Fidgeting can serve to increase a child’s ability to fight boredom and improve attention and concentration.
However, fidgeting behavior, such as leg bouncing, foot tapping, repeatedly changing sitting positions, rocking a chair back and forth, and/or rearranging objects inside and outside of one’s desk is disruptive to the classroom setting.
Helpful strategies to address hyperactivity that meet both the needs of the classroom and the child with restless energy are listed below.
- Allow students to stand by their desk for a designated period of time.
- Have an empty desk in the classroom available for the child (preferably on either side of the room to minimize distraction) so they can move from one desktop to another.
- Provide movement breaks every five to ten minutes.
- Encourage the use of silent objects to dance between one’s hands and fingers, such as stress balls, squish balls, erasers, or rubber bands.
- Replace classroom chairs with exercise balls or use elastic bands on the feet of the chair.
- Assign the child classroom chores that involve heavy lifting, such as sorting books, taking the trash can outside, or stacking chairs.
- Practice deep breathing exercises and mindfulness breaks.
- Use recess as an opportunity to release energy. Never remove recess as a form of discipline.