Making Friends

“We Can All Get Along.”

If your child having a tough time making friends or adjusting to a classroom, then his ADHD symptoms might be making it more difficult. Learn how picture books can help build social skills, identify feelings, and nix meltdowns.

Three new picture books can help parents improve their kids' friendship skills. Here's how.
Three new picture books can help parents improve their kids' friendship skills. Here's how.

Young children with ADHD often lag behind their peers in developing social skills. Picture books, including those not specific to kids with ADHD, can help parents teach their kids new skills. Books offer a non-threatening way for parents to address concerns, a better approach than lecturing a child.

Parents usually take too long explaining what kids do wrong. Good picture books explain such concepts in neutral, simple language, and their engaging illustrations create a context kids can identify with. Many of them also offer specific action steps, either in the text or as a note to parents, which are easy to repeat and practice. Here are three new picture books that can help you do that.

When You Just Have to ROAR!
by Rachel Robertson, illustrations by Priscilla Prentice
(ages three and up)

“Jamilla was jumping. Ruth was running. David was drumming. Binh was bouncing…. Masha was making a monstrous mess.”

All kids need clear, consistent expectations about how to behave in various environments. But kids with ADHD — who miss social cues and act impulsively — need to see, hear, and practice good social behavior.

In this book, Ms. Mya’s classroom is a chaotic mess. She calls a special morning meeting. After introducing the concept of expectations, she and her students work together to create a list of them. They practice walking, instead of running, and speaking in their regular voice in the classroom. The next day is their best day ever. A note to readers stresses the importance of adults setting expectations, and teaching, practicing, and demonstrating positive behavior.

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns We Can All Get Along
by Howard Binkow, illustrations by David A. Cutting and Mike Ferrin
(ages four to eight)

“Howard B. Wigglebottom, why are you so sad today?” asked Grandma.

“Ali is having a picnic party and I’m not invited,” cried Howard. “She said I am no fun.”

It seems to happen a lot to kids with ADHD — they’re left out of games at recess and don’t make the cut for sleepovers. We parents feel our kids’ pain, but we don’t know how to help them. How about addressing some basic tenets of friendship, for starters?

In this book, Grandma encourages Howard to think about how his friends feel when he cuts in line at lunch, starts a fight if someone doesn’t cheer for his favorite sports team, and always has to be right. Howard gets it! It will take practice, but Howard now knows how to be a good friend. Howard ‘fesses up and apologizes to Ali. He employs his new friendship philosophy — “We all get to be right. We all get a turn. We all get a say.” — and they have a great time at the party.

A group of “Suggestions for Lessons and Reflections” follows the story.

F Is for Feelings
by Goldie Miller and Lisa Berger, illustrations by Hazel Mitchell
(ages three to eight)

“Every day I feel all kinds of feelings, in all kinds of places, with all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways.”

Helping kids identify their feelings and talk about them reduces negative behavior, such as meltdowns, often associated with ADHD. Tantrums at school can harm friendships. This book is a wonderful tool for helping kids put a name to their emotions.

In traditional alphabet-book style, the word for a feeling, an illustration related to that feeling, and a brief description are presented for each letter of the alphabet. At the end of the book, there is an excellent and extensive guide for parents, teachers, and other caregivers about how to read and discuss the book with children.