“How can I help my child with ADHD improve his or her relationships with friends or family?”
You may have noticed that your child may have trouble making friends. This month we Ask the Experts…
Clinical pharmacist Peter Anderson states that social skills training as part of individual psychotherapy or group therapy can be helpful. He also states that it is “helpful to avoid being overly critical of the child. Too much criticism, even if well-intended can discourage further social interaction.” He adds that the “education of family members about this will likely be needed.”
Mary Robertson, RN, provides several suggestions. She states that if the child is still in elementary school, parents might consider inviting ONE school friend over at a time. “Playing with one friend at a time follows the old rule of ‘two is company and three is a crowd’. Having the children in your home allows you to more closely monitor their interactions.” Parents can listen from another room while the children are playing, then privately provide feedback to the ADHD child for both positive and negative behaviors or use of language. “This also allows a parent to quickly intervene if inappropriate or dangerous behaviors occur,” advises Nurse Robertson.
She also states that a similar strategy can be used with family members, though “you will likely have less control over the number of family members in your home at any given time.” Nurse Robertson recommends that if extended family visits your home, be sure to “warn” the child that family members are coming.
“ADHD children do not do well with unexpected changes in their environment. Explain who is coming, how long they will be there and what behavior you expect from the child. Building in a reward system for success is always a bonus.”
Marc Atkins, Ph.D., also states that “providing structured and well-supervised peer activities can be very helpful, especially for young children with ADHD.” He agrees that this gives parents the opportunity to adjust the activity if needed, and to de-escalate conflict situations before they become problematic. In addition, Dr. Atkins reports that “frequent successful interactions with peers and families can help to develop strong friendship alliances, and provides parents with opportunities to praise or reward their child for positive peer and sibling interactions.”
Category: Ask The Experts