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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD and Your Child's Social Life

Friendships are an important part of childhood. They help kids feel like they belong and teach lifelong skills like cooperation and negotiation. Kids with friends are happier and less likely to get into trouble with drugs and alcohol as they get older.

Children with ADHD don’t always make friends easily, though. Your child may not always listen well, and one-sided conversations are no fun for the other person. Maybe he blurts out the first thing that comes to mind, even if it's mean-spirited. Or maybe he upsets other kids by cutting to the front of the line while they wait their turn for a game. If he finds it hard to read social cues, he may not notice other kids roll their eyes when they're bored or annoyed with him.

Still, your child can make -- and keep -- great friendships. He just might have to work a little harder at it. And he may need some extra help from you.

Make Friends More Easily

What can you do to help your child gain friends?

Treat the ADHD. The same treatments that help your child succeed in school will also address social issues. Medication can cut down on behaviors, like impulsiveness, that push other kids away.

Make introductions. If your child seems nervous about talking to her classmates, you can help. Set up play dates with other kids from school. Plan activities ahead of time, and be there to keep an eye on things. Kids with ADHD tend to play better with one or two other children than they do in large groups.

Get active. Look for group activities that center around your child's interests, whether that's art, video games, or sports. Instead of signing her up for what you think is best, let her take part in the decision, too. Programs designed with ADHD kids in mind are helpful with social issues.

Practice. Counselors and therapists offer social-skill programs to help children with ADHD learn how to get along with other kids. Practice the steps at home, and reward your child when she gets them right.

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