For many children, the stigma of an ADHD diagnosis can be as challenging to face as the ADHD symptoms themselves. When you add the fact that many children with ADHD struggle to match the social skills of their peers, it’s no surprise that many kids with ADHD struggle to develop strong friendships. Here are some ADHD social skills training ideas to help your child better connect with the people in their lives.
ADHD and social skills don’t always go hand in hand. Children with ADHD often exhibit behavior that is interpreted as impulsive, disorganized, aggressive, overly sensitive, intense, emotional, or disruptive, and these behaviors are often present in their social interactions as well. By discussing social expectations with your child, you can help them understand which social behaviors and responses are appropriate. Be as clear as possible about what is expected of them, what tactics to avoid, and how they can use their own interests and strengths in a social setting.
Focus on One Goal at a Time
Many children and teens with ADHD feel overwhelmed by social interactions, and if you pile on a bunch of different goals for them to strive toward, you can make things even harder. You might even unintentionally push them toward social isolation. Instead, choose one specific goal to work on for a specific amount of time. For example, you and your child might decide that they will be extra careful not to interrupt anyone for the next two weeks. Once that skill has become more natural for your child, then you can move on to the next social goal.
While role playing social scenarios can sometimes seem childish or uncomfortable for teens with ADHD, role playing is an important part of play, and it can be an especially helpful social tool for younger children. During role play, be sure to run through a range of scenarios so your child will have plenty of experience to choose from. It’s also important to be clear and encouraging with your feedback.
Employ the Echo
Because children with ADHD have attentional difficulties, they may find themselves missing out or overlooking key parts of their conversations. Help them develop a system of echoing to help them check in with whoever they’re speaking with. By simply repeating what they think the person said and asking if they got it right or if there is more to it, they can show their interest and help themselves collect the information they need to successfully connect.
Don’t let the emotional effects of ADHD social isolations consume your child. By prioritizing social skills training, you can help them succeed, not only at school, but in the world at large. Have questions? At Woodburn Pediatrics, we specialize in treating children with ADHD. In fact, we have a wealth of ADHD resources available for parents, including information about the difference between normal brains and ADHD brains. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.