Making Friends

Click with Cliques

Help your child with ADHD connect with peers and develop a strong social circle with these four strategies for building lasting friendships.

The social scene in middle school is rough for kids with ADHD. Cliques form, and our kids are often left out. Marie, a sixth-grader, came to see me recently, saying she had no friends at school.

“I asked some of my classmates if I was annoying, and they said ‘yes,'” Marie said. “I just said, ‘Oh, well,’ and left.” Marie didn’t know how to stand up to, or “click with,” her peers..

Marie and I worked on ways to help her talk more positively about herself and school. Instead of her usual “I hate sports,” or “This school is the worst,” she said, “I really loved playing dodge ball in gym today.” We came up with a list of conversation-starters to draw out her peers, such as “I noticed that you have a new pair of boots….” Marie gained confidence, and made a few good friends.

Work on His Social Skills

Middle-schoolers are often “parent-deaf,” so this strategy works only if you’ve cultivated a trusting relationship with your child. Discreetly observe him in social situations, and pass along some suggestions in a gentle, non-judgmental way.

You might say, “You know, John, I was noticing that when Adam came over, you didn’t give him much time to talk. I wonder if he felt that you weren’t interested in his ideas?” Chances are, he will hear the point you made.

Build Up His Defenses

Children with ADD sometimes make sharp comments to friends, but they fall apart when nasty words are returned. Help your child deal with bullies by arming him with responses that will deflect unkind remarks.

Humor can be a shield against hurtful comments. The next time a bully says, “You’re dumb,” your child might say, “I’m having a rough day. The brain cells aren’t working.”

Identify Potential New Friends

Some kids often try to befriend “popular” students, those who may see an ADHD child as silly or immature. It’s better for your child to make friendships with kids who share similar passions and activities that they both enjoy. Sign her up for classes that focus on her interests — swimming, crafts, drama. Chances are, she will join a clique of her own.

Keep Up With Trends

Just as activities bridge social gaps, so can trendy clothes and the latest electronic gadgets. They may be good conversation-starters with classmates.

Being the first to buy a hot new computer game, or the DVD that everyone is talking about, may ease your child’s entry into a group. Remember, you’re not spoiling your child; you’re providing her with the extra edge that ADHD has taken away.

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