5 Ways ADHD Can Affect Your Child’s Social Life
ADHD can make it difficult for your child to concentrate and pay attention in school, but it affects more than just academics. It has an impact on social skills as well. Here are five common social challenges your child with ADHD may face—and ways you can help.
Social Challenge #1: Your child has trouble making friends.The ADHD link: Kids with ADHD often don’t notice how their behavior affects other people. They may interrupt others and have trouble filtering what they say—which could irritate others.
How you can help: Role-play social situations with your child. He can play himself while you play the other child. Then switch. Finish by talking about what he did well and what he could do differently.
Social Challenge #2: Your child quickly loses friends.The ADHD link: Kids with ADHD can be very intense and demanding without realizing it. Their difficulty with taking turns and waiting for things can cause friendships to burn out.
How you can help: Sign your child up for a sport or another group activity that interests him. He may find it easier to learn about “give and take” in a group setting rather than one-on-one.
Social Challenge #3: Your child struggles with conversation. The ADHD link: Kids with ADHD can easily lose the thread of conversation, misinterpret what others are saying and become distracted by unrelated thoughts. If your child has difficulty taking turns it can be even harder to be an equal participant.
How you can help: Record a conversation with your child at mealtime. Listen to it together and talk about where you both hear him going off-topic. Discuss other ways he could have handled it.
Social challenge #4: Your child overreacts to situations.The ADHD link: Kids with ADHD might struggle with self-control. They may lash out physically when they’re upset, or have meltdowns at an age when it’s no longer appropriate.
How you can help: Point out to your child the signs of when he’s getting upset. Talking about what his body and voice are doing will help him learn to take his own “emotional temperature.”
Social challenge #5: Your child isn’t always reliable.The ADHD link: Kids with ADHD can have trouble with planning and follow-through. That may cause other kids to think they can’t be counted on when doing group projects.
How you can help: Encourage your child to talk with the group members about how they’ll divide up the work. Then help him make a checklist or chart to keep track of his own progress.
Having social issues on top of attention issues can take a toll on your child’s self-esteem. But there are many ways you can help your child build confidence, develop stronger social skills and deal with hurt feelings.
Amanda Morin is an education and parenting writer who uses her experience as an early interventionist and teacher to inform her writing. Her work appears on many parenting websites and she is the author of two books, including The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.