ADHD and Play

Free play, in which children develop their own activities, including rough-and-tumble activities that, as the term play implies, involves physical activity such as running, jumping, play fighting, and wrestling, are increasingly recognized as essential components of a child’s development. Both human and animal studies have provided evidence that periods of play improve social skills, impulse inhibition and attention (Panksepp, 2007; Pellis et al., 2010) and result in specific neurochemical and dendritic changes in many neurons (Bell et al., 2010; Panksepp, 2008), especially in those brain areas in which ADHD children are deficient. Therefore, long-term provision of more opportunities for physical play may be an effective, non-medicinal therapy for reducing some of the disruptive behaviors of ADHD and facilitating brain development in children diagnosed with ADHD.

Free play, in which children develop their own activities, including rough-and-tumble activities that, as the term play implies, involves physical activity such as running, jumping, play fighting, and wrestling, are increasingly recognized as essential components of a child’s development. Both human and animal studies have provided evidence that periods of play improve social skills, impulse inhibition and attention (Panksepp, 2007; Pellis et al., 2010) and result in specific neurochemical and dendritic changes in many neurons (Bell et al., 2010; Panksepp, 2008), especially in those brain areas in which ADHD children are deficient. Therefore, long-term provision of more opportunities for physical play may be an effective, non-medicinal therapy for reducing some of the disruptive behaviors of ADHD and facilitating brain development in children diagnosed with ADHD.

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