Play Therapy Interventions

Play Therapy Interventions for ADHD

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ADHD is a very common diagnosis among children.  I highly doubt that I am the first one to tell you that! However, there are definitely a lack of interventions for therapists to utilize with children dealing with problems related to ADHD. Today, I will be discussing four interventions that I use on a consistent basis with my clients.


For any diagnosis, it is of utmost importance that the child and caregiver understand what the diagnosis means. In our society, we are inundated by the media of what certain diagnosis mean, especially ADHD. It also gives the child and their family an idea of what we are working towards in our treatment goals and can be a very strong intervention in itself.


One book that I particularly like is Shelley, the Hyperactive Turtle by Deborah Moss. The book discusses how Shelley is having difficult in many settings, including on the school bus and interacting with peers. Shelley’s mother takes him to the doctor and he receives a diagnosis of ADHD. The doctor explains to Shelley what ADHD means and recommends that he receive counseling and medication, the “gold standard” of ADHD treatment. In the end, Shelley is happier and has an improved level of self-esteem.

Please note: books can be expensive, especially being a professional in a helping field. Many great therapy books are available in video format on youtube. Check out the video for Shelley, the Hyperactive Turtle by clicking the link. 

Simon Says

Sometimes the simplest games from childhood can be the best interventions! The classic game from childhood “Simon Says” is a great example of this. As a reminder, “Simon Says” is a listening game used primarily with children in early childhood. The leader (or clinician) is Simon. Simon instructs the child to do things, such as jump on one leg. If Simon says “Simon says jump on one leg” and the child follows the directions, the child is still in the game. If Simon simply says “jump on one leg,” the child is out of the game. This game is a great way for children with ADHD to learn listening skills, impulse control, attention to small details, working memory , and increase their overall ability to focus. Below are some examples of activities I like to use in “Simon Says.”

  • Reach for the sky
  • Make a sad face
  • Make a happy face
  • Make an angry face
  • Spin around in a circle
  • Jump on one leg
  • Touch your toes
  • Play the air guitar
  • Give yourself a hug
  • Sing your favorite song
  • Act like a robot
  • Act like cooked spaghetti
  • Give someone a high five
  • Dance
  • Act surprised
  • Act scared
  • Pretend to be a lion
  • Pretend to be a puppy

Red Light Green Light Impulse Control Game

This is an intervention that I have taken from one of the play therapy greats, Liana Lowenstein. This intervention is an adaptation of the children’s game “Red Light Green Light.”img_6421.jpg

As in the classic game, Green means go, yellow means slow down, and red means stop. Have the child choose a coloring utensil to use and have them choose a coloring utensil for you. Introduce the game to the child. Tell them that they can color whatever they want, but have to listen to you as the stop light. I also like to make it fun and have the child take a turn being the stop light. Similar to “Simon Says,” this child therapy intervention teaches listening skills, impulse control, attending to small details, increases ability to focus, helps with working memory, and is overall a good time!

Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! Game

This game was featured in my feature series Play Products. The Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! Game is a great way to help kiddos sharing and taking turn, develop strong listening skills, practice using multistep directions, increase their ability to focus, assist in attending to small details, help with problem solving, and increase self-esteem; all things that are helpful for any child that is diagnosed with ADHD. Check out my Play Products: Cat in the Hat “I Can Do That!” Game post for more information!

Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! Game

Any interventions that you use with clients diagnosed with ADHD? Tell me about it in the  comments below! Until next time, Play On!



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