Helping Your Child Make Friends

Research shows that people who have lots of friends not only live longer, but also get sick less often than people with few or no friends. Unfortunately, children with ADHD may find that making and keeping friends takes more energy and focus than finishing their school work. Fortunately, you can teach them many essential skills to making and keeping friends and role-play at home until appropriate behavior and responses become second nature.

Strategies that Work

To help a young child learn to initiate friendships, you may need to take him by the hand and walk him over to meet another child, introduce them, and suggest they play together.

Here are some other ways to help your child develop and keep friendships:

  • Teach a child by giving him a mini-lesson en route to a social gathering. On the way to his first soccer practice, instruct him to say, “Hi, my name is Jim. What's yours?” Give him a conversation opener, too. “This is my first time playing soccer. How about you?”

  • If your child thinks your suggestions are “dumb,” tell him to watch to see how other people start conversations and report back to you. Afterward, ask him what he noticed. The best way to learn social skills is to watch how other people interact.

  • Many children with ADHD symptoms have poor social skills because they do not tune in to the subtleties of social interactions or misread social cues. They benefit from reminders to pay attention, and they can often be more objective when watching how peers interact with one another.

  • An adolescent may pretend that your recommendations are too old fashioned to be of use. Nevertheless, your teen may re-fashion your ideas to fit his social group's slang and use them. When he's leaving for a dance, you might suggest, “Go up to someone you recognize, and say, ‘Hi. Aren't you in Dr. Bob's third period English class?' or whatever. Whether or not you are right, you can start a conversation about your English teachers by asking how she likes her class.’”

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