You notice that your child is having difficulty making and keeping friends. The school has called to tell you that your child has been fighting, and you are starting to lose despair that your child won’t learn to get along, or form deep, lasting friendships. You’ve tried to help, but are starting to feel lost as to what to do. Does this sound familiar?
If your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and trouble with social skills, you have probably already connected the dots. Children with ADHD tend to have more trouble forming and nurturing friendships. Being inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive makes a child less sensitive to social cues and puts up barriers to social acceptance.
Friendships with other children matter
Does your child report being alone during breaks at school? Do they regularly play with friends? In fact, about half of children with ADHD have problems with friendships (click here for more).
Not having friends is depressing. Often, you can feel how much pain it causes your child. Beyond the immediate loneliness, lack of friendship is a strong risk factor for lifelong problems navigating social situations, getting along in the workplace, and building healthy family relationships. As a parent, you are not powerless. You can choose from an array of resources to equip your child with tools that will help them at school, in the playground, and at home.
Practical tips for what you can do at home
At home, you can practice skills to help your child function better in peer and friend relationships.
- Describe and practice specific behaviors. Avoid vague statements such as “be nice” or “don’t be mean”. Use specific terms such as “share” or “take turns”.
- Provide examples of situations and talk about different ways to react.
- Roleplay: coach your child how to behave in specific situations, such as a playdate, using the swing in the park, not interrupting, not saying harsh things, and listening.
While practicing and roleplaying, do not discourage your child. Keeping a positive attitude is crucial to helping your child build healthy self-esteem and persevere in the face of setbacks. Praise and commitment to growth are important. A negative response when your child makes a mistake will discourage your child and make a difficult situation more challenging than it needs to be.
A therapist skilled in working with ADHD can help guide you in creating a supportive home environment.
Consider a social skills training program or therapist
Experts who are trained to work with children and ADHD can be very helpful for teaching social skills. Not only do they understand the inner workings of your child and their challenges, but they also are trained in teaching behavioral and emotional regulation skills. These are tools that your child will carry forward throughout their lifetime.
Neurofeedback to reduce ADHD symptoms and encourage new learning
Neurofeedback has been shown to be an effective treatment for ADHD in children, and can be part of the solution for helping your child build friendships and social skills.
Neurofeedback focuses on the brain, and as a result, the brain begins to change. Almost like exercising a muscle, the brain can learn to practice increasing its ability to pay attention and focus without the use of medication. You can read more about neurofeedback by clicking here.
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