ADHD and Your Child's Social Life

Making friends isn’t always easy for a kid with ADHD. What can a parent do to help? Quite a bit.

Treat the ADHD. The same treatments that help your child succeed in school can also help with social issues. Medicine can also cut down on behaviors like impulsiveness that may keep other kids away.

Make introductions. If your child is nervous about talking to classmates, set up play dates. Plan activities ahead of time, and be there to keep an eye on things.

It may help to choose something fun that your child is comfortable doing. This will encourage confidence. Keep in mind that kids with ADHD tend to do better with one or two other children than in large groups.

Talk first. Before your child goes to an event, talk about what she should expect there, and what others might expect from her.

Get active. Look for hobbies that center around your child's interests. It can be things like art, video games, sports, or whatever. Instead of signing up for what you think is best, let your child help you decide. Look for programs that have kids with ADHD in mind.

Focus. Don’t try to do too much at once. Pick one or two habits to work on with her at a time, such as taking turns or sharing.

Explore social skills groups. There are programs designed to help your child learn to make friends and do better in class. A school psychologist or speech therapist usually leads them. They're also small. Typically, there aren't more than eight kids in a group.

The children in these sessions do special activities, like role-playing, to learn how to:

  • Greet other kids
  • Start and hold a conversation
  • Take turns when playing
  • Ask for help when they need it

Many schools have these groups. There are also privately run programs. The key is to find one that fits your child’s personality and age group.

Have a backup plan. Ask your child's teachers how class is going for her. Work with them and the school's guidance counselor to clear up any conflicts that could get in the way of friendships.

Kids with ADHD can be targets for bullying, too. Be prepared. Talk with your child about what to do if she gets teased or picked on. Make sure she knows it's OK to tell you if she’s bullied.

Know that a little may be enough. Remember, while you want to encourage friendships, don't go overboard. Your child doesn't need to be part of the most popular group at school or have lots of friends. One or two close friendships may be all she needs.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on April 2, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

ADDvance: “Social Skills for Kids with ADHD.”

Bagwell, C.L. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, November 2001.

Davidson Institute: “Tips for Parents: Improving Skills in Children with ADHD.”

Hoza, B. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, July 2007.

CDC: "Other Concerns & Conditions."

CHADD: "Psychosocial Treatment for Children and Adolescents with ADHD."

Unnever, J.D. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, February 2003.

Understood: "FAQs About Social Skills Groups."

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