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The Best Activities for Kids with ADHD

These after-school and weekend activities and sports are especially good for kids with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD or ADD.

After a long day in the classroom, after-school (or weekend) activities can give ADHD kids a chance to burn off extra energy and boost to their confidence. While martial arts are often touted as the go-to sport for kids struggling with this disorder, parents say they’ve found success with a variety of other activities too. It really depends on your kid — and what his passions are — but active and/or outdoor-based activities are a good place to start. We tapped CHADD (Child and Adults with ADHD) to get the scoop on the best activities to try.

Nature Sports

Most kids, ADHD or not, love being outside. Outdoor exercises like biking and hiking are especially good for high-energy kids. Unlike with many team sports such as basketball, baseball, and soccer, there is no standing around time. Your kid will be constantly moving and using large muscle groups, keeping him focused.


Unlike other activities that work either the right or left side of the brain, music exercises both sides at the same time, training your mind to multitask better. If your kid is in a band, orchestra or a choir, they are learning to work as part of a team — a key skill for kids with ADHD.


It worked wonders for Olympic gold-medalist Michael Phelps — who was diagnosed with ADHD at age 9 — so it might just do the trick for your kid too. The constant movement keeps up with your kid’s energy level, and the self-discipline the sport requires is good for them too.

Girl Scouts/Cub Scouts

These organizations were founded before ADHD was even defined, and they’ve been incorporating activities that require focus, attention, and organization forever. They’ve also perfected a system of rewards — super-effective for getting ADHD kids to work toward a goal — with activities like the pinewood derby, arts & crafts, and of course, earning badges for a job well done.

Read more: Parenting



What people are saying

6 thoughts on “The Best Activities for Kids with ADHD

  1. Martial arts are popular to relieve ADD/ADHD symptoms because martial arts have a lot of balance-related stances and moves. And it is because of the balance they are so effective. If you make a small tightrope-style balance beam out of a steel water pipe, see nestoiter-gravity for example, you will get the same if not better results. Balancing on the beam for one hour, like your martial arts class, three times a week, will train the brain to work faster. Balance training naturally speeds up the brain and makes the right and left hemispheres to work with the same intensity. Most ADD/ADHD have slower left brain, that's why kids and adults have problems with math, schedules, following rules, and keeping promises; they are all left brain activities.
    I love martial arts and have nothing against them. I'm only saying that a simple balance beam out of a water pipe on the school yard, or in your child's room, will do what martial arts do, namely train the brain to work a bit faster. And what kid doesn't like to walk on the curb or balance on the balance beam?

  2. Alexander Cannon says:

    No matter what your age, gender, or neurological status is, BE ACTIVE! It's weird to see an article like this; 10 years ago, when I was a kid, sedentary lifestyles and their associated health concerns weren't a serious concern among children and adolescents.

  3. My son has joined a climbing gym which he loves for the adrenaline rush and which we love because he has to utilize strategy as well as physical stamina….highly recommend!!

  4. Sherry Ballestero says:

    My daughter has adhd and she rarely goes outside. I try to insist on her going. But she also has autism. My oldest has autism and add and she is always going outside to play basketball etc.

  5. Going to check this out for SURE.

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