Activities for active 6yo ADHD kid

Im looking for activity suggestions for my hyperactive rough n tumble ADHD 6yr old boy. On top of this he has a small speech deficit. Due to Covid, we’ve had very limited social interaction with other kids. He can play rough and has trouble with personal space, so parks have not really been an option during this time. Now as things are opening up, I worry about how he’ll transition back into the classroom and interacting w other kids.

Now that things are opening up again, I was wondering if enrolling him into an activity will help with social interaction as well as managing some of his energy. Tumbling? Sports? Martial arts? I’m open to suggestions or recommendations to specific places. What would be important is the mentors to have the patience and understanding for a kiddo like him.

If you have a child like mine, I’m also interested in suggestions on how we can support, help and manage him as he grows, go back into the classroom or just back into life in general, as we emerge from our Covid cave.


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You didn't say where you live, but Cal Berkeley Youth Camps is great for very active kids and the supervision is excellent. They also have a social skills camp especially for kids like your son.  I'm not sure if they will be fully open this summer but you could check.  All three of my boys enjoyed going to this camp.  There are more suggestions for activities for hyper kids on the BPN website: Activities for ADD kids and Summer Camps for ADD Kids

Kudos to you for speaking of your son so positively. Kids with ADHD are subject to increasingly negative messaging (direct and indirect) as they grow older and are expected to behave more like their "neuro-typical" peers.

My ADHD kid is now a twenty-year-old. When he was your son's age, he had an interest in martial arts, so I reached out to my network for recommendations. Fortunately, the second dojo we tried was a great fit for him and a real positive in his life. My son learned appropriate ways to burn off his energy, how to control his body and maintain focus, and respect for others. His dojo also taught skills around how to deal with bullying (target or bystander), and real-life self-defense. His self-esteem grew with his self-control. Martial arts is primarily an individual sport, but it can also have team aspects. My son struggled to fit in on team-focused sports, and thrived in a marital arts program that balanced individual and team effort and achievement. Team camaraderie was built through game play and in competition (joining the competition team was optional).

Like anything else, not all martial arts schools are the same. A great environment for one kid may be soul-crushing for another; it's imperative to find a good fit for an ADHD kid. Give a dojo a month or two to settle in before moving on it it's not a fit. For my son, we found a small, family run dojo that taught skills to the younger kids through games. The environment was structured, but not overly structured, as well as warm and fun. The martial artists wore dojo t-shirts and go pants for practice, and the formal gi only for competition and ceremony. The owners kept the kids motivated through regular belt award ceremonies and by putting stripes on their belts so the kids could see their progress during what seemed like wait for the next belt. Most importantly, the instructors really cared about the kids and treated them with respect and warmth. (I'm on the Peninsula, so specific recommendation likely will not be helpful if you are in the East Bay.)

I know you'll find something that makes your son's soul sing.

We learned that tumbling/gymnastics wasn't as great a fit as we'd thought it would be for our child with ADHD- kids take turns using equipment, so there was frequent down time, and he got too distracted/goofy to do group exercises with the other kids. We tried other sports, too (baseball, soccer, swimming, etc.), that always lost him when there was down time. The best fit for his ADHD is probably basketball. Everyone is constantly moving, so no/limited down time to space out. Paying attention to where the ball is was a challenge, so he didn't get it much and wasn't particularly "good" at the sport, but he got to move a lot and had fun.

Your son sounds similar to mine except he is 7 years old, has HF autism and possibly ADHD although not officially diagnosed. I too have been looking for activities to get him into now that things have opened up. I recently reached out to 24/7 UK Soccer Academy about their weekly camps this summer which are located in Oakland, Alameda, Piedmont, and Castro Valley. I specifically asked if their instructors would be understanding and accommodating of my son’s challenging behaviors- inability to follow instructions or participate consistently, need for frequent breaks, and lack of social skills.

Their response: 

Our coaches have experience in working with players or all ages and abilities, as well as having working with players with specific needs. We would do everything possible to cater to your son’s specific needs in order to ensure that he has a great experience and would work with you to ensure that the coaches had the background information from you ahead of time regarding the best way to plan for working with your son on the camp and what his specific individual needs would be, as it sounds like you did with Bladium staff coaches in the past.

 I am definitely considering signing him up. I’d also like to follow this post to hopefully find more activities for my son. Good luck!

Our trampoline has been a lifesaver for our ADHD son, spends about an hour a day out there, burning off extra energy.

Martial arts have been great for our 9 year old with the ADHD and his 5 year old sibling.  Baseball was hard (lots of waiting around, personal frustration with failure, sportsmanship struggles).

We have been doing martial arts outside and online since the beginning of the pandemic with Studio Naga in Oakland, highly recommended.  There is focus on personal body space and control, fun with learning strikes and a feeling of success/pride with growth.