Why It’s Tough to Make & Keep Friends When You Have ADHD

Kids with ADHD often interact in ways that can provoke negative reactions from peers.

Do any of these ADHD Behaviors sound like your child?

Dominating: Tries to dominate play or engage in ways that are too aggressive, demanding, and intrusive.

Bossy & Uncooperative: They may have trouble joining in with peers in the things their peers like to do. Instead, they may want to make their own set of rules, or engage in bossy, “unfair” or non-compliant ways, and generally may have a hard time knowing how to cooperate with other kids the same age.

Unaware of Social Cues: Many kids with ADHD have a hard time picking up on and reading social cues because of their struggle with attention.

Boredom and Distraction: Kids may become bored easily, get distracted and “check out” on friends.

Emotionally Reactive: Many kids with ADHD also have a hard time managing difficult feelings and can very quickly become overwhelmed, frustrated, and emotionally reactive.

What’s a Parent To Do?

Our kids do not want to talk with us about their challenges, and certainly not their social challenges.

Even so, there are things you can do to start building trust with your child. You want to be their safe place. They need a safe place.

The best place to start is by shedding your parenting cloak and show up as a coach for your child.

Here’s how to have a coaching conversation with anyone!

Use the PAUSE Method

Pause. Stop. Breath. Understand and take control of your emotions. The difference between an emotional reaction and a thoughtful response is the Pause.

Acknowledge. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings. Say, “I can see how important this is to you. I know this is a hard situation. I notice how much you care about this. I can hear in your voice how hurt you are.”

Understand. Get curious. Seek to understand the situation better before trying to fix it. Ask, “What else happened? What made you think that? What are you assuming? What is the worst thing about this? What is the best thing about this?

Solve. Partner with the other person to come up with solutions. You are not to fix-it for them. Ask, “What can you do about this? What do you have control over? What are your options? If you could do anything to fix this, no matter how crazy it sounds what would it be?”

Encourage. Nurture continued and future communication. Remind the person you are always available to listen. Be in a state of support, not judgement.

Coaching Conversations Guide Posts:

  1. Always ask “What” Questions. Never “Why”. Why puts people on the defensive.
  2. Always ask permission to share your opinion or your own story.
This takes practice. Be patient with yourself.

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