Helping Your Child with ADHD Make Friends
With the school year starting, making new friends can be scary in elementary school and many children struggle with starting and sustaining friendships. However, addressing and troubleshooting social difficulties is very important for kids with ADHD. As a parent you can help your child with establishing friendships. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that good parenting skills can help kids with ADHD have better social skills.
Here are some tips to help your ADHD child make and keep friends:
• Have a Pre-Play Conversation: When seeing a friend for the first time in a long time, it can lead to a child being excited. However, kids with ADHD can get even more excited, more impulsive and more anxious. To help them, try to preface the encounter by saying “You’re going to see your friend, and it’s been a while. I know you are excited, but try to talk slowly and listen to your friend,” suggests Jamie Levine, founder and director of Team Esteem.
• Start Small and Short: Your child will likely be more successful at making friends and interacting socially with clear and predictable rules, expectations, and routines, along with supervision. You can also ask their teacher to suggest classmates for play dates who could be a good personality match for your child.
• Mind Your Manners: Sometimes kids with ADHD can appear over-excited or over-stimulated in new surrounds, Levine says. Talk with them before and explain, “When we go to the house, remember to listen, and if you have a question, ask, but this is not your home, you are a guest. Don’t keep talking or run around the house. Don’t jump on the parent’s bed or stand on furniture. Instead, go in, take off your shoes, and say hello.'”
• Catch Your Child Being Friendly: When you see your child interacting with peers or siblings, be sure to point out what they are doing right and should do more of. “Positive reinforcements are really helpful,” says Levine.