Many of us unconsciously fidget when we play with our hair or tap a pencil on the desk when we are nervous or bored. Often these repetitive actions provide comfort and emotional release for pent-up anxiety or excitement. Although fidgeting and restlessness are common symptoms associated with anxiety and ADHD, from time to time people of all ages fidget.
What is Fidgeting?
Fidgeting is a coping mechanism that can help foster self-regulation, peacefulness, and attention, especially during stressful situations. However, fidgeting isn’t always helpful; sometimes it’s destructive or harmful. An example of destructive fidgeting would be if you or your child ruins their clothing by picking and shredding or their wounds never heal and scar due to excess skin picking. Destructive fidgeting is a sign that there is excessive anxious energy that needs to be redirected towards more productive fidgeting.
How to Recognize Destructive Fidgeting
- Tearing book corners
- Picking (clothes, skin, cuticles, or scabs)
- Thumb sucking
- Hair plucking or pulling
- Tapping pencil
- Peeling corners of books
Children that Fidget
Fidgeting in children is an unconscious self-soothing behavior and is not a sign of defiance. Children may continue with destructive fidgeting without proper intervention. Caregivers that scold children for fidgeting can inadvertently create more child anxiety, which can lead to more inappropriate fidgeting. Wise parents and teachers provide constructive alternatives for healthy emotional outlets. Fidget toys offer an alternative outlet for stressful feelings that both adults and children can enjoy.
What are Fidget Toys?
Fidget toys are a type of coping tool that provides anxious hands with a constructive outlet for restless energy. Some people prefer to squeeze a stress ball, while others like the satisfying sound of popping bubble wrap. Fidget toys come in all shapes and sizes but all give a tactile release for stress, which provides comfort and relaxation.
Benefits of Fidget Toys
- Provides a constructive emotional outlet
- Helps focus the mind
- Opens headspace for learning and active listening
- Help with relaxing the body
- Create self-regulation
Not all fidget toys are created equal. The most common complaint from teachers about fidget toys is that they are distracting. The wrong fidget toy in the wrong situation can definitely be a nuisance. Some fidget toys border on obnoxious, for example, the popular Fidget Spinner (conveniently left off the list below) has been banned in many classrooms. So how do you select the right fidget toy for the right situation? We’ve compiled a list of fidget toys that can help you figure out where to start.
Top 15 Fidget Toys to Help with Anxiety
Check out our top 15 favorite fidget toys. Adults and Children and enjoy the fidgets listed below. We included all kinds of choices to keep energetic hands busy. Some can be used discreetly, while others are more out-there and obviously. Lots of choices for lots of situations! Click the photos for an affiliate link and add these coping tools to your or your child’s coping toolbox.
15. Koosh Balls
This one takes me back to my childhood. Even Topanga recommends Koosh Balls! Koosh Balls are a great somatic fidget toy. Thousands of rubber strands are banded together to make up this tactile stretchy ball.
The decompression Chain will click and bend in the most delightful way. While the clicking can be satisfying, it can be a little noisy in some situations.
13. Infinity Cube
Infinity Cube is more industrial and is satisfying in its own unique way. Simple and repetitive movements help comfort and soothe without being too oblivious or distracting.
The Magic Flip Sequin Pillow is so soothing. Gently waving your hand and fingers back-and-forth changing the colors is, oh so relaxing.
11. Monkey Noodles
Monkey Noodles are so much fun! Stretch or twist these fidget noodles. These do border on distracting, so they may not be appropriate in more structured situations.
10. Squeeze Ball Toy
Squishy and squashy fidget toy! Squeeze your stress and anger out in a productive way. Watch the insides move around and be oddly satisfied.
The Honmofun Fidget Cubes were all the rage a few years ago for a good reason. Each side of the cube has its own appeal. Click it, switch it, push it, swipe it, or spin it. Fidget cubes give lots of tactile options to help with mental focus.
Gamers will love the Fidget Controller Pad. Keep those thumbs active and busy. This fidget toy fits nicely in the palm of your hands, just like a video game controller.
If you liked the Classic fidget Cube, you’ll love Minilopa Fidget Dodecagon. It takes fidget cubes to the next level. Bigger and more noticeable than its predecessor, it gives more options and choices for a nice variety of fidgeting.
This one takes me back to the 90s when I first saw the Spinner Ring. Simply spin the outer layer of this ring with your thumb. Unlike the fidget spinner toy that’s more noticeable and distracting to others, the Spinner Ring is quiet, discrete and fashionable.
5. Flippy Chain
The Flippy Chain is sturdy and little. You can take it wherever you go without being too distracting to others. Enjoy the repetitive movement of flipping the ring and chain.
4. Stress Ball
You can’t go wrong with a good ol’ fashion stress ball. Not just for anxious fidgeting, you can release all kinds of tough feelings with a powerful squeeze.
This fidget toy takes coping to the next level with this 2-in-1 mini hammer. The hammerhead rotates down the handle in both directions. It can easily be converted to a finger spinner by taking off the handle. It also says it “comes with the power of Thor,” which is nice.
Worry stones can be seen as special treasures from nature. Each one is unique and beautiful in its own way. Stones and crystals have symbolic meanings. Assigning a meaning to your worry stone can help you channel positivity and intention during stressful situations.
Who doesn’t love bubble wrap? Instead of creating unnecessary plastic waste, use these reusable poppers. Easy to carry around in your pocket for on-the-go. This Fidget toy has quickly become our new favorite fidget toy.
While you wait for your fidget toy to arrive, take a look at the Self-Care Robot to get ideas to relax and focus on some “me” time.
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