TOP BOARD & CARD GAMES FOR KIDS WITH ADHD
If you’re parenting a child with ADHD and spend time on social media, you’ve probably heard the term “executive functioning.” This is because executive functioning is a huge piece of the ADHD puzzle. Kids with ADHD have delayed executive functioning skills. In fact, some experts suggest an up to 30% delay on average. For example, a 10-year-old child with ADHD would have executive functioning skills more like a 7-year-old.
Executive functioning challenges have a significant impact on your child’s day-to-day life…
…like struggles with working memory – this is why they do better when you give them one direction at a time rather than a laundry list of to-dos;
…or struggles with impulsivity – like grabbing something out of their friend’s hand, not because they are mean but because their brain operates in “act now, think later” mode;
…or struggles with emotion regulation – like anything but winning graciously or losing gracefully.
LET’S REFRAME THIS!
Remember, our kids with ADHD are not naughty or mean for these things. Their brains are developing differently, and they need our support and guidance.
So, now you’re thinking… “OK, so you’re telling me… on top of this huge mental load of raising a child with ADHD, I now also have to teach my child executive functioning skills?”
Well… yes and no.
Executive functioning skills are not best “taught” in a classic sense of teacher and student, as your child may learn multiplication in school. Executive functioning skills are best taught through practice and experience in real-life scenarios.
This leads us to this blog’s point (yes, I promise we are getting there…). Board games are an *excellent* way to grow your child’s executive functioning skills. The time spent playing can also grow your connection with your child and foster strong relationships at home.
So which games are the best for our ADHDers, you ask? Well, we polled YOU, our Instagram followers, to ask which games your ADHDer loves. We’ve compiled your 1000+ responses (phew!) and given you the top responses, all endorsed MANY times.
First, we will share the Top 5 most-voted-for games, followed by all of the top 30 games organized by age, in order from more to less votes.
TOP FIVE MOST VOTED FOR GAMES
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- UNO (5+) and UNO Junior (3+): Your top-rated game (by far!), and we love that for most of us parents, this one brings a hint of nostalgia. A round of UNO can be quick (which is excellent for our ADHDers!), thus providing many opportunities to win and lose. We also love that UNO offers so many different versions that you can choose one tailored to your child’s interest (Star Wars, Barbie, Minecraft…!)
- Outfoxed (4+): We love cooperative games for our ADHD kids (no winner or loser, everyone works together). Cooperative games can help acquaint our kids with the process of playing board games without the stress of handling those big emotions when they don’t win. Specifically, Outfoxed teaches skills such as estimating probability, paying attention to details, and collaboration’s important role in problem-solving.
- Sleeping Queens (8+): The game makers recommend 8+ years on this one, but a lot of you said your younger kids can play, too! This game is great for developing working memory, learning strategy, and practicing elementary math skills.
- Ticket to Ride (8+) and Ticket to Ride First Journey (6+): This is a classic and a great game for practicing strategy and working on patience (phew!). In this game, you’ve got to practice a lot of future thinking. This is great for our ADHDers who need to practice living outside the “now” and think about the future.
- Sequence (7+): Another classic here that may bring a hint of nostalgia for parents! Sequence is an excellent game for growing strategy (which requires future thinking!). This one is fun for kids and adults. We love the added excitement as you block other players from completing their sequence. There are also lots of opportunities to practice emotion regulation (*wink wink*.)
POPULAR GAMES BY AGE
Top Games for ADHD Kids, ages 3+
- UNO Junior (3+): UNO Junior is a colorful card game that helps kids as young as 3 develop essential skills like color and number recognition, while its straightforward rules make it a hit with ADHD families. As a child psychologist, Lori always has UNO in her drawer. Moreover, as they play, kids can open up about their highs and lows during their week.
- Outfoxed (4+): Outfoxed is an engaging, cooperative mystery game that encourages teamwork and problem-solving. This makes it a fun choice for younger kids with ADHD.
- Zingo (4+): Zingo is a fast-paced bingo-style game that enhances attention and matching skills, making it an entertaining and educational choice for the whole family. This was one of Lori’s kids’ favorite games during the preschool years!
- Memory Games (2+): Memory games come in various versions and can be tailored to your child’s interests, building working memory, concentration, and cognitive skills…which so many ADHD kids need help strengthening! Mallory’s boys love this one.
- Dobble (4+): With different themed versions like animals, Pixar, or Frozen, Dobble is a quick-paced matching game that challenges kids’ attention and visual perception skills.
- Sneaky Snacky Squirrel (3+): Sneaky Snacky Squirrel is a delightful game involving matching and fine motor skills. It’s perfect for enhancing focus and patience in young children with ADHD.
- Eye Found It (3+): Eye Found It is a collaborative, seek-and-find game that promotes attention to detail and teamwork among kids as young as 3. Katie’s kids still play this game, and it’s great for family game night.
- Go Fish (4+): Go Fish is a classic card game that teaches kids matching and turn-taking skills, making it an enjoyable and educational choice for ADHD families. It’s one of our favorites to play when we go out to dinner and need something to entertain them!
Top Games for ADHD Kids, ages 5+
- UNO (5+): UNO is a family favorite that reinforces color and number recognition while keeping kids engaged and sharpening their attention. It is Lori’s kids’ favorite game to play now…they play it every night!
- Ticket to Ride First Journey (6+): Ticket to Ride First Journey simplifies the classic board game, fostering strategic thinking and attention skills in a child-friendly way. Katie’s kids LOVE this game and have “graduated” from playing on teams to playing more independently. One fantastic thing about this game is it builds mental flexibility. If someone builds where you plan to go, you must “re-route” your train.
- Spot It (6+): Spot It is a fast-paced visual perception game that challenges kids to find matches quickly and enhances their concentration. This game is easy to bring in the car or an airplane because it is so small.
- Sorry! (6+): Sorry! teaches kids about strategy and patience while offering an exciting way to work on impulse control and turn-taking. Katie used this game in speech therapy to help kids practice managing frustration. It can be SO frustrating when you get sent back to start!!
- Monopoly Junior (5+): Monopoly Junior introduces the world of finance to kids in a simplified way, promoting decision-making and strategic planning. It used to be one of Lori’s favorite games to play as a kid.
- Catan Junior (6+): Catan Junior is a simplified version of the popular board game, encouraging resource management and decision-making skills. This game helps with executive functioning skills such as planning and strategy.
- Race to Treasure (5+): Race to Treasure is a cooperative game that encourages teamwork, strategic thinking, and patience.
- Gnomes at Night (6+): Gnomes at Night is a cooperative memory game that enhances working memory and attention skills while solving mysteries.
Top Games for ADHD Kids, ages 7+
- Sleeping Queens (8+): Sleeping Queens is a fun card game that involves strategy and attention skills while aiming to wake up magical queens. Lori’s kids learned to play this at camp this summer and love it!
- Ticket to Ride (8+): The classic Ticket to Ride game offers more complexity for older kids, promoting strategic planning, spatial awareness, and focus.
- Sequence (7+): Sequence combines strategy and pattern recognition, providing an engaging way to develop attention and planning skills. This one can be challenging, especially for kids with ADHD, but it’s a lot of fun.
- Exploding Kittens (7+): Exploding Kittens is a hilarious card game that challenges kids’ impulse control and strategic thinking in a playful manner.
- Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza (8+): This fast-paced card game enhances reaction time. Attention skills are gained while keeping players entertained with silly actions.
- Monopoly (8+): Monopoly introduces kids to financial concepts, promoting decision-making and strategic thinking in a classic board game format. Again, this is a classic game we all loved growing up!
- Carassonne (7+): Carcassonne is a tile-laying game that develops spatial awareness, strategy, and attention as players build a medieval landscape.
- Catan (10+): Catan is a strategy game that challenges older kids with resource management and negotiation, fostering critical thinking skills. There are so many executive functioning skills involved in this one!
- Cover Your Assets (7+): Cover Your Assets is a card game that involves strategy and quick thinking, enhancing attention and decision-making skills.
- Mantis (7+): Mantis is a strategic card game that requires attention and planning skills while battling mythical creatures.
- Telestrations (8+): Telestrations is a cooperative drawing and guessing game that enhances communication and teamwork, making it enjoyable for ADHD families. Lori’s kids are laughing the whole time they play this game. They love drawing and art in their family, so it is a big hit!
- Blokus (7+): Blokus is a spatial strategy game that enhances spatial awareness and critical thinking skills as players place colorful shapes on the board.
- Junior Detective (8+): Junior Detective is a mystery-solving game that encourages observation, attention to detail, and logical thinking.
- Kingdomino (8+): Kingdomino is a tile-laying game that sharpens spatial awareness and strategy skills as players build their own kingdoms.
Finally, as with everything we offer you, you must use your discretion when determining which games suit your family best. Sometimes, your kids may be ready for games earlier than the recommended age. Some kids may need to focus solely on cooperative games for now. Remember, meet your child where they are… they are trying their best, and you’re doing great.