As I send my two oldest daughters off to college my fear of them sitting alone at lunch or hiding by the gym lockers have moved to fear of them locking themselves up in their dorm rooms isolated and lonely.
I think my own social anxiety is triggering these fears. In my heart, I know my girls will push through the “uncomfortable” that always accompanies new experiences. I’m also a realist and know anxiety is a heavy load to carry.
For some students, be it 6th graders, high schoolers or college students, another year of school is another year of anxiety filled moments. Academic stress, athletic competition, social pressures and personal insecurity makes the start of school overwhelming and intimidating.
So much focus is put on academics and we forget the highest anxiety moments are the social ones. Since when is lunch the highest stress point of a student’s day? Sadly, it is the reality for more students than you’d think.
For students who live with ADHD, anxiety and depression, the “back-to-school” period is especially troubling. For many the fear of the unknown – like a new teacher, new school, or new schedule – can cause or exacerbate feelings of social anxiety. For students with ADHD these fears are magnified as their over-active minds play out one potential social catastrophe after another.
Does it surprise you that lot’s of people are lonely and disconnected, despite our on-line connections of friends, followers and likes?
We’re missing out on the positive effects of sharing smiles and hugs with all this technology. When you add ADHD to the mix, the problem gets worse.
Some ADHD quirks get in the way of making and holding on to friends. Friendships depend on us being on time and being at the right place to meet; remembering names; remembering people’s stories; not putting foot in mouth; listening — not interrupting; not getting too close too quickly; being able to tolerate frustration; managing emotions, being patient.
You’ve Got Lots to Offer
On the flip-side, ADD’ers are, in many ways, gifted in friendships — being warm, generous, forgiving, and intuitive. Sadly, these great qualities aren’t recognized enough because the other quirky challenges of ADHD get in the way.
Friendships cost nothing but time and attention.
But they rely on us taking initiative. When one person is always the one to keep in touch, it gets old and the friendship eventually dies. Tending to your current friends is crucial. You have to check in with a person regularly to make sure the friendship stays healthy.
Think of one person you’d like to connect with more. Someone who you share a genuine and mutual connection with…..even if it’s been awhile since you’ve talked.
Consider these four reasons why friendships are so important to our health and well-being before brushing this aside.
Parents speak out on “what things are keeping them up at night about ADHD for their family.
“Will my daughter find people who can support her while she works on her social skills? Friends that can understand she can be inappropriate or come off as thoughtless. She just doesn’t have that awareness yet.
“Can my son learn skills he needs to take care of himself?
“I worry about my daughter socially more than ever. She gets bored with things…..and people very quickly.”
“The biggest concern I now have with my son is how to help him deal with anxiety.”
“I worry a lot about how my son would fit in, in the real world as an adult.”
“Will my daughter be able to manage on her own, get a job, hold a job, get bills paid?
Can you relate? Worrying about how our kids will manage as adults is natural. We spend so much time worrying about algebra test scores we miss what is “missing”. Do we know our kids social intelligence score? Our kids need social muscle to achieve independence.
Those with ADHD frequently struggle with friendships. They’re often isolated and withdrawn. Some choose not to socialize. If they do, they may be rejected.
Worse, isolation and rejection may lead to other problems like depression and anxiety.