Summertime Friends

Kids with ADHD often struggle with friendships during the school year. They may have a hard time picking up on social cues, initiating and maintaining conversations, being empathetic toward their peers, and staying calm when they feel frustrated or offended. As a result, research shows that kids with ADHD are more likely have conflicts with their classmates or be ignored and overlooked by their peers. These social patterns can be hard to break – especially when kids are interacting with the same group of classmates day after day and year after year. Summer provides a fresh start for friendships. Meeting new kids in a new setting is sometimes all it takes to get summer friendships off to a good start. As a parent there are things you can do to help set your child up for success so they can make the most of their fresh start this summer.

  • Teach friendship skills. Talk to your child about what it takes to make a new friend. Kids with ADHD often need to learn social skills, the same way that the need to learn skills in order to read or play a sport. Coach your child on ways to start a conversation, join a group, and be a good sport during games and activities. Role play these skills with your child, and prompt them to use these skills when you observe them playing with other kids. At the end of this post I’ve included a few simple steps to help you get started.
  • Encourage playdates and get-togethers. Studies show that kids who invite their peers to do fun activities are better liked than kids who don’t offer invitations. So, help your child think of fun activities that they can do and help them invite their new friend along. Activities can something as simple as going to the playground for a few minutes at the end of the day, or a bigger activity like a playdate at home or a trip to the movies.
  • Get help from summer program counselors, educators, and coaches. Kids with ADHD often need support throughout the day to make and maintain new friendships. Talk to your child’s counselors, tutors, and coaches about the skills that you’re working on with your child. Let them know that your child could use some extra support when it comes to making new friends. You can even ask one or two summer staff members if they’d be willing to try out the coaching tips included in this blog. You’ll likely be surprised by how willing people are to help your child make new friends.
  • Enroll your child in activities that allow them to shine. The demands of the school year can make it hard for a child with ADHD to feel confident academically and socially. Capitalize on summer’s flexibility by enrolling your child in the activities that they feel most confident about and enjoy the most. This confidence will naturally carry over into their interactions with new friends who share their same interests.
  • Boost confidence by building academic skills. Enroll your child in group tutoring and academic programs over the summer, in addition to fun activities. They’ll meet other kids like them and will have an opportunity to see that they’re not the only one who needs a little extra help to keep up at school. They’re bound to enjoy and even look-up to some of these kids, and will learn that even cool kids struggle sometimes. These sessions also provide an opportunity for your child to practice their conversation and good sportsmanship skills, and they can invite their classmates to join them for activities outside of class. And the biggest benefit? They’ll be learning academic skills that will put them ahead when school starts in the fall. How’s that for a confidence booster!

Perhaps more than perhaps any other issue, parents of kids with ADHD worry the most about their child making and keeping friends. Summertime can be a great chance for your child to hit the reset button and create strong friendships with kids who share their same interests. Seize the opportunity, practice some of the tips included here, and you might just see your child blossom this summer.


Keys to Good Conversations

  1. Make eye contact.
  2. Ask questions about something you think the other person might be interested in.
  3. Give the other person a chance to talk (try not to be a conversation hog!).
  4. Keep the conversation going. Share something about yourself that’s on-topic, or ask another on-topic question.

Keys to Joining a Group

  1. Make the first move. Rather than waiting for someone in the group to notice you, introduce yourself when there is a break in the conversation.
  2. Follow the conversation keys above to join the conversation.
  3. If the group is already engaged in an activity (like a kickball game or craft project), simply introduce yourself, and then say, “Can I play?”

Keys to Good Sportsmanship

  1. Be a Good Winner. Don’t brag or boost when you win, and say “good game” to the loser
  2. Be a Good Loser. Say, “That’s okay; maybe I’ll win next time.” Then congratulate the winner.
  3. Cheer on your teammates. Do this even when you’re feeling frustrated!



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