Ask the Experts

My Son Only Has Younger Friends

My 13-year-old son, who has ADHD, prefers to play with children who are several years younger than he is. He told me he relates better to them than to his peers. Is this appropriate?

Age-gap friendships are not unusual for ADHD children. Nor are social-skill deficiencies. Your son prefers to be with younger children because he feels more “at home” with them than with peers. Younger children give your son an opportunity to shine in a social setting.

Showing off his social skills lifts his self-esteem. Help your son build on this, while developing his leadership skills. Look into organizations that offer mentoring to younger children.

To develop peer relationships, encourage your son to participate in a sport or after-school club. If relating to his peers is a problem, look for activities that don’t require a lot of teamwork — track, chess, martial arts, and other individual sports are all good choices for ADHD children.