The tradition of fidgeting dates back to ancient times. Ali Jaffe’s recent article, “Quit Worrying, Fidget Toys have been Around Forever,” takes a spin through the ages, looking at the fidget toys that have captured our attention in bygone years. She cites Drs. Katerine Isbister and Michael Karlesky who have conducted research about why and how we fidget in their article, “Understanding Fidget Widgets: Exploring the Design Space of Embodied Self-Regulation.” Karlesky explains, “We are hard-wired for self-regulation enacted through tangible, tactile sensory experiences.” In other words, we look for ways to soothe ourselves.
Some of the earliest fidget toys Jaffe mentions include these:
Baoding balls – a.k.a. Yin Yang Balls or Meditation Balls. You roll this pair of metal balls over and over in the palm of your hand. Developed by the Ming Dynasty in China circa 1368-1644, you can still purchase Baoding Balls around the world!
Worry Beads (or Greek kompoloi) consist of a string of beads manipulated with one or two hands and used to pass time. Unlike the similar prayer beads, used in many religious traditions, worry beads have no religious or ceremonial purpose.
Prayer Beads (Mala, Rosary, Prayer Ropes) reputedly originate in the Eastern religions in India in the 3rd century BC (admittedly, I haven’t yet verified this claim).
More recently, TIME reporter Allie Townsend assembled a list of the 100 most influential toys from the 1920s to 2000s. A quick scan through this list of favorite toys of the ages reveals a bunch that remain popular today!
In addition to these familiar toys, you’ve likely seen girls twirling their hair, lifeguards looping their whistle endlessly around their finger, or men fussing with their pocket change. Examples of people fidgeting are endless. Perhaps quitting smoking is so hard because in addition to the nicotine addiction) it gives people something to do with their hands. If you take away the cigarette, a “patch” might not be enough. Try, too, to keep a fidget toy on hand to occupy your fingers and reduce stress!
Fidget Spinners and Fidget Cubes certainly took over the world for a while. But, who knows what will be next? As fidgeting grows in popularity, brand new fidget toys continue to hit the market! Check out Trainers Warehouse fidget toys here.