“Clearly, play seems to be an essential part of social and brain development,” says Panksepp. “It’s only after the need for play has been met that animals are ready to move on to more mature stages of development.”

This research has convinced Panksepp that the restlessness seen in children with ADHD may simply be the children’s way of expressing an innate need for more play. Instead of medicating children to stifle their behavior, Panksepp argues for providing kids with more opportunity to meet that need. In fact, he believes that this could be the key to ensuring their development into focused, socially adept adults.

We don’t expect adults to engage in highly focused mental activity for hours on end without a break. Breaks (in the form of recess) are no less important for kids, and Panksepp’s research suggests that they’re even more important for kids with ADHD.

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