Direct Teaching Methods
If your child has ADHD, making friends strategies may not come easily to them. As a parent, you can teach your child how to make friends by modeling important skills. For example, when you see a dog that your child wants to pet, you could say, "Oh, I’d love to pet that dog too. Let’s think about how we could ask the woman nicely so that she’ll share her dog with us for a few minutes." Before a first day of school, you could practice saying, "Hi, my name is…Do you want to play with my new markers?" or some other method of introduction.
In order to understand which social situations most frustrate your child’s efforts in making friends, you will need to watch your child closely and stay involved. Mentally take note of positive and negative interactions, and discuss them with your child after the fact. What went wrong? What could your child do differently next time? Make sure to give your child plenty of praise for even the smallest of social successes.
Certain social situations may improve with the use of social stories, either written or oral, in order to teach your child the proper ways to react. For example, you might use a social story to deal with the topic of how to join in a game that is already being played. You can make a simple book out of cardboard and have your child draw pictures to go along with it. Because children with ADHD are often impulsive, they may just jump right into a game without asking, or without realizing how their actions will affect the other players. Once they understand the proper way to react in this social situation – after hearing the social stories again and again – they will be able to react correctly instead. See this article for additional tips for using social stories.
You can give your child practice in social interactions and also provide her with some possible friends by encouraging her to join a group activity that you think she would enjoy. You may want to consider a team sport, since children with ADHD often enjoy physical activity. Team sports will also teach them to become less focused on themselves and more focused on other kids who are part of the team. If your child seems too competitive to work with teammates, you can start with individual sports, such as running or gymnastics, where children work on their own performance, but in a group.
If your child does not seem interested in sports, try to find groups that fit other interests. You may want to make sure that the activity is fast-paced enough to hold your child’s interest. Also, children with ADHD often do better with groups that have a structured time and schedule, as well as those that take a limited amount of time. If your child is interested, she may benefit from social skills groups for kids with ADHD, which are becoming more common.