ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. Kids who have ADHD live a more challenging life. Just because a kid has ADHD doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have a future. Sometimes, it means that they have to overcome a bigger challenge than everyone else’s. Apparently, social skills are one of those!
It is no surprise that ADHD serves as a pretty tough challenge for kids. First, they have a hard time paying attention or concentrating in school. And second, they find it difficult to really communicate and get along with others because of their social skills. “So many of the children I see in counseling have the same problem—feeling left out and lonely,” says Cathi Cohen, LCSW, a certified group psychotherapist.
It is not always that way, though. Here are the practical ways you can help kids with ADHD:
1. Act As The Other Friend
According to Keath Low, “Research finds that children with ADHD tend to be extremely poor monitors of their own social behavior.” Kids with ADHD don’t notice that their behavior has an impact on the people they meet and will meet. Since they can get overexcited in conversations, they may interrupt others and have trouble filtering what they say.
This might lead to a misunderstanding or irritation. What you could do is practice a scenario of the kid talking to a friend or an acquaintance. Play the other child, and just observe how he or she talks. You can give your feedback and “friendly tips” after.
2. Give A Special Reward
Prizes and rewards highly motivate kids. More so for those with ADHD. To effectively reinforce targeted social skills, you may set up a “rewards system” (not really formal) for your child to follow.
For example, every time he or she exhibits positive behaviors (talks nicely, greets guests appropriately, don’t yell at playmates), have a reward or a special activity! This doesn’t need to be fancy. It may be his or her favorite candy, a trip to the mind museum, or just staying up late to watch cartoons!
3. Seek The Help Of The Teacher
Some kids are labeled negatively because of their social skills deficit. But this should not be the case. In fact, having a negative reputation is the most significant obstacle a child with ADHD will face. Make sure that you have established a good relationship with the kid’s teacher, because a teacher’s warmth, patience, and redirection can serve as the model of the peer group.
It will also contribute positively to your child’s social status. Be ready to share the strengths and weaknesses of your child. Only then could you (and the teacher) create an ADHD-friendly classroom environment!
4. Stay Patient As You Teach Emotion Education
To improve the social skills of the kid, he or she must also know how to read social cues, and not just what to say to their friend. For example, teach them how to infer what others are thinking or feeling.
You can demonstrate how one acts and reacts (facial expression) when sad, mad, happy, confused, disgusted, annoyed, etc. By learning how to target emotion education, children with ADHD can improve their social skills!
5. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor
Role-playing many different social scenarios, and practicing it every day won’t be of use if you don’t monitor your child. Just because you’ve taught what they should know doesn’t mean they can do it 100%. Make sure to watch them, and give a reminder when they’re doing something wrong, and compliment them when they do it right. According to Eileen Kennedy-Moore Ph.D., “To help these children navigate the social world, we need to address the specific barriers that prevent them from connecting with their peers.”
Just don’t go overboard by asking them to do everything perfectly, though. There’s always room for mistakes. So keep your cool and monitor!