Never Take Away Recess for Disruptive Behavior- ADHD, Autism

Unfortunately, it’s common practice to take away recess as a punishment for challenging behavior. It’s also common to assign exercise for punishment – such as “walking” instead of playing at recess.

I’ll just say it – RIDICULOUS!

Research shows us that physical activity improves –

  • Social skills

  • Motor skills

  • Academic responding

  • Anxiety

  • Self-stimulatory behavior

  • Executive functioning

  • Behavior

The bottom line is  “Never take away recess. Period”.

I’m glad to say that, North Carolina, has a clue.
The Healthy Active Children Policy reads that you can’t take away recess as a punishment or assign exercise as a form of punishment.


    1. For schools in which Physical Education is not currently offered daily to all K-8 students, a minimum of 30 minutes, daily, of moderate to the vigorous physical activity shall be provided by schools for all K-8 students.  This requirement can be achieved through a Physical Education class offered to all students.  On days when Physical Education is not part of a student’s schedule, the 30-minute physical activity requirement can be met by activities such as recess, dance, classroom energizers, or other curriculum-based physical activity programs.

    2. Recess shall consist of unstructured free play or structured games and activities. Recess and physical activity shall not be taken away from students as a form of punishment; furthermore, exercise shall not be assigned for use as a form of punishment for students.

    3. The physical activity required by this section must involve physical exertion of at least a moderate to vigorous intensity level and for a duration sufficient to provide a significant health benefit to students according to National Physical Activity and Health Guidelines.  Activity sessions should be no less than ten-minute segments that, when combined, a total of 30 minutes of daily physical activity.

      If you find out that your child has had recess taken away due to behavior challenges, I would suggest the following:

          1. Find out the policies.

          2. Ask your child’s physician for a letter recommending physical activity and no restrictions on recess to improve social skills, behavior, executive functioning…

          3. Call a meeting with your child’s school and have an advocate with you. Make sure to bring the physician’s letter with you along with research supporting the need for recess.

          4. Formally request that your child’s IEP include that recess will never be taken away.

      Hang in there, My Friend!

      Holly Blanc Moses
      The Mom/Psychologist/Behavior Analyst Who Gets It❤️

      YOU are invited to my Wired Differently Facebook Group:)


      1. You are a parent of a child who is wired differently.

      2. You want to support and be supported.

      3. You are not a jerk face

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