ADHD and Childhood Friendships

The Effects of ADHD on Childhood Friendships

and How You Can Help

A common challenge children with ADHD face is navigating relationships with their peers. This can include maintaining friendships and experiencing rejection. As parents and caregivers, it can be heart-wrenching to watch your child struggle with developing successful peer relationships, but there are resources and support to help intervene early and regularly. With early intervention, your child can develop some essential tools. Family, teachers, and other adults play a key role in supporting children with ADHD  to develop the skills they need to create and maintain healthy and lasting friendships.

Typical Peer Relationship Struggles for Children with ADHD

Do any of these descriptors sound familiar?

  • They have difficulty playing by the rules when engaging in paired or team activities.
  • They struggle to develop close friends and keep those friendships going long term
  • They are likely to argue or fight with peers when engaging in activities.
  • They appear withdrawn or uninterested in the activities and interests of others.
  • They misread social cues and are found to be annoying by their peers.
  • They have difficulty managing their own feelings.
  • They may have developed a negative reputation among their peers.
  • They lack the social and conflict resolution skills that others seem to have developed.

If any of these characterizations ring true for your child, you are not alone. It’s very common for children with ADHD to be less socially mature than their peers, and to have a hard time reading and navigating social situations. The good news is there are simple ways you can support children with ADHD and help them develop the skills necessary to increase their self awareness and social skills in order to support long term friendships.

1- Recognize What Makes Your Child Wonderful

Children can often feel rejected and worthless when they have troubled friendships. In order to help them build their self-esteem, recognize what makes them worthy and what you enjoy when you are around them.

 Are they creative? Do they have a great sense of humor? Do they have a special skill or talent that they are passionate about? Do they have a kind heart? Do they give great hugs? Does their energy bring you joy at times? Whatever it is, point it out and let them know how much you value what makes them special. Developing a stronger self concept will help prepare them for the coaching and guidance they need when it comes to peer relationships. Help them understand they don’t have to change who they are, they’re simply learning a new set of skills they need some help with.

2- Support their Social Skills Development

Coaching children through difficult-to-navigate social situations in the moment is important, but they also need regular practice in low-stakes environments. This will help the skills cement themselves in your child’s brain so they know how to react when they are experiencing situations down the road. Social skills can take a lot of practice because children with ADHD are battling with impulsivity and/or inattentiveness, which makes saying and doing the appropriate thing a more difficult task.  

Ask your child questions and help them navigate what-if scenarios. Role-play with them in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Research and ask for resources for social stories from your child’s school, or community programs. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about your options.

3- Reach Out for Mental Health Support

ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in children and adolescents. The good news is that the staff at Hudson Psychiatric Associates are more than capable of helping both you and your child navigate the world of ADHD with evidence-based treatment options like play therapy, holistic and collaborative treatment plans, and medication when necessary.

Reach out to our team today to request an appointment by filling out and submitting our contact form