Tips and Suggestions for Buying Gifts for Children with ADD/ADHD

ADD, ADHD, Gifts for the holidays

The key to finding the “right gift” for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is as varied as the child. A little time invested in learning about the child’s specific interests and strengths will help you discover a good match for any child. There are also many hobbies or crafts that emphasize a child’s creativity and make good gifts for children with ADD/ADHD.

Some things to keep in mind

ADD/ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence. Although some children may show signs of social immaturity as a result of their ADD/ADHD, intelligence is not affected. Children with ADD/ADHD many times are above average in intelligence, but may sometimes have difficulty in translating that intelligence to the outside world because of their rapid thoughts.

  • Children with ADD/ADHD are just that: CHILDREN.
  • Every child has a unique talent and ability and if properly nurtured, will allow the child to succeed and thrive. Many children with ADD/ADHD are extremely creative.
  • Children with ADD/ADHD do not want to be considered “different.” They want to fit in with their peers, play the same games as their peers, and be accepted for who they are. Focusing on the positive attributes of their personality will help them to feel secure and confident.
  • Gifts should focus on the positive aspects of a child’s personality, rather than trying to build upon the negative or underdeveloped aspects.

Finding the passion within

Keeping the above in mind, take some time to determine the child’s interests. Many children with ADD/ADHD hyper focus on a certain aspect of their life. For some children it may be art, for others music, some athletics. Find out what motivates the child you are buying a gift for. Let go of the traditional gifts for a particular age level and look at what passions this child has. For example, many boys, between the ages of 3-10 love cars, trucks and trains. However, these gifts are not necessarily what every boy that age loves. Giving a gift of a beautiful truck to a child that has no interest in such things can be detrimental. It can cause stress to the child, making them feel shame that they do not find the same joy in the truck as other children their age. They may feel they should love the truck, but just do not and that there is something wrong with them for not liking it. The “giver” of the gift feels the child is unappreciative and selfish, causing stress on the relationship between you and the child.

Taking the time to watch the child in play can help. What holds their interest for more than a few minutes? Do they play quietly on the computer or at a video game without fidgeting, fighting or bouncing around? Do they sit quietly and draw or color? Do they work well on puzzles? Or are they best at a one-on-one activity, keeping their focus when being with another person? Do they listen intently to music? Or can they sit still for a story?

Once you have carefully watched the child play, being careful not to judge the child, but simply watching what holds their interest, you will be more prepared to find the perfect gift to fit their unique personality. This gift should ideally provide the child with a sense of themselves and a feeling of self-confidence. The gift should let the child know that you understand them and accept them for exactly who they are. The gift should let the child know that you are attuned to their inner passions.


If you need some ideas to get you started, consider these possibilities:

All by myself box

What are children to do when they are bored, there are no friends or siblings around to play with and they can’t seem to settle down into any one activity? An “All By Myself” box has several different activities in it. This box is best used if the parent puts it away somewhere and brings it out only once in awhile, when needed, to keep it fresh and interesting. Items can be added throughout the year, for birthdays or other holidays or as a reward for accomplishments.

In the beginning, use a colorful large box and place in it age-appropriate items for the child to sit and play by themselves. Some ideas of what to include in the box:

  • Markers, crayons, glue, scissors
  • Paper – different colors and shapes
  • Old magazines for cutting out pictures
  • A plastic jar with ideas of projects written on slips of paper: e.g., make a collage of cars, dancers, happy people, use cut pieces of colored paper to make a boat, etc.
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Hand-held computer games
  • Paper dolls
  • Toy cars
  • Age-appropriate models

Using your imagination and your time observing the child’s interests, add interesting items to the box.

Once-a-month outings

Although younger children may not be able to understand this gift, many children over the age of 7 would be able to.

Magazine subscription

There are so many magazines available, for every type of interest. A magazine subscription to further the positive qualities and talents of a child would be like receiving a gift every month!

Movie/game rentals

Gift certificates to a local store for movie rentals or game rentals.


Gifts that bring out creativity: art sets, craft sets, musical instruments, journals for creative writing, software for designing web pages, book on making paper airplanes (include paper and stickers for decorating the planes), camera and book on photography (include a photo album)

Most importantly, as you walk through stores, don’t just pick out an item that looks appropriate for the child’s age level, pick out a gift that will bring out their talents and potential.

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