Children With AD/HD And Friendship

I was reading Friendship Friday: When your Child struggles with friendship on Unwritten and she asked several questions at the end of the blog post:

  • Do your kids struggle with friendships? If so, how do you help them?
  • Do you assist them with nurturing their friendships?
  • How do you suggest I navigate the friendship issue with Child1?
  • Do you think that our kids learn  HOW to be good at friendship based on how WE are as friends?

My comment was long enough for a blog post so I thought I’d post it as such right here!

Children with AD/HD are- sadly- notoriously bad at maintaining friendships. They get home on a Friday and get so involved in self-indulgent weekend activities like PS2 or Xbox, they forget all about their friends (or girlfriends) who then assume they don’t care enough to make contact. On Monday the friends don’t want anything to do with them and the child with AD/HD has no idea why!
Many continue with this battle into adulthood- bosses, friends, girlfriends…
For one thing they do not read body language very well and don’t understand sarcasm or jokes. They take things very personally and over-react. Friends and family members will battle to understand this.
On another level, their immaturity annoys children their own age so they often gravitate to older kids who think they’re cute, or younger kids ‘coz they’re on the same “wave length”.
Because they like to be the centre of attention; “the boss of the game”; they battle to wait their turn; and more often than not are sore losers, other children are quickly put off playing games with them.
My recommendation, when asked, is to find a mom you can talk to (or make contact with someone you already know, obviously :) ) who has a child your own child might like, tell the mom of the other child about your child’s diagnosis and then arrange supervised, one-on-one play dates at your house.
This way you can keep an ear and an eye on the interactions without hovering too much, and you can use the play dates as learning opportunities for your child. How to wait your turn during board games, how to share, how to talk and laugh in company.
You can develop signals you can practice to use as social cues. Mine and my son’s were related to volume and channel controls on the TV, so I didn’t have to embarrass him. If he got too loud or obnoxious I asked him to turn the volume down a little. If he went off on a tangent I’d remind him that we had changed the channel and were now playing a different game or doing something else. In fact, we still use those little cues when we’re in company.
If the play date goes well, fantastic! Wash, rinse, repeat! If it doesn’t, you call the other child’s mom to fetch the friend and you try again another day.

4 thoughts on “Children With AD/HD And Friendship

  1. We’ve been lucky so far. Even with all of the places we’ve lived, my little guy has managed to find that one kid with similar behavior issues (ADD) and they’ve managed to get along relatively well. But it’s definitely hard, because he doesn’t deal well in large groups. Ironically enough he can’t keep self entertained with game systems too long either. He has his action figures (bonkazonks, wrestlers, angry birds board game, go-go’s… depends on his moment.. he starts collecting them & plays with them a long time… than on to the next ones).
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