How to Improve Social Skills in Children with ADHD

Many parents ask themselves how to improve social skills in children with ADHD. Children and teens who have ADHD tend to seek approval from others. If they don’t get it, they may have self-esteem issues and develop a fear of failure. Having good friends during childhood is an important part of avoiding this type of insecurity. Mary Fowler, a mother of a child with attention deficit and author of the parents guide “Maybe You Know My Teen”, says that having good friends during childhood may mark “the difference between everything going well, or having a troubled teen, who doesn’t study, does drugs, and gets in trouble with the law.”

improve social skills in children with adhd

Children with ADHD tend to have problems with aggressiveness and impulsive behavior that complicates personal relationships. Making new friends and maintaining them is a challenge for children that have attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

This is why, before starting to work on strategies to improve the social skills in children with ADHD, it’s important to understand some of the reasons why they have trouble relating with others:

-Difficulty interpreting social situations

-Problems assimilating to rules and respecting limits

-Demanding attention and approval from others

-Trouble controlling their emotions

-Difficult keeping secrets or promises.

To make up for the social complications that come with these symptoms, it’s important to practice activities that will help these children improve their social skills and how they relate to other people. They will learn tools to relate to other people with less impulsiveness and how to better interpret different social situations.

What Strategies Can You Use To Help Improve Social Skills in Children With ADHD?

-Teach your child social behaviors as if it were a scene in a play. How to say sorry when you hurt someone, how to thank grandma for the cookies…. Give them different scenarios and teach them how to react to them.

Give positive reinforcement and reward them when they react properly to a certain social situation or when they progress. “Good job saying please”.

Show the child models that show the behaviors that he has to internalize. There are different social interactions that you can show your child: videos, pictures, drawings, using dolls…

Encourage your child to express what he’s feeling in different social situations: “How do you feel when someone says thanks for something?”.

Increase social consciousness and make him know that actions have consequences that affect other people.

Make opportunities for your child to make friends: meet with other parents and their kids to organize a play date outside.

Work with your child’s professor to make sure the child is comfortable in class and that it’s an adequate environment for someone with ADHD. Specialized teachers can also help you make training methods to help the social skills of the child.

Training social skills in children is focused around increasing proper social behaviors and decreasing inappropriate behaviors, depending on the context.

These skills will carry over to other situations, which will ultimately improve your child’s quality of life. To improve social skills in children with ADHD, different aspects must be trained:

-Identify the appropriate behavior for different social situations. They should learn how to interact socially and the parts of the socialization process.

-Understand that our actions have consequences and how we influence our environment.

-Develop empathy to be able to manage different conflicts and respect others’ rights.

-Train assertiveness and improve emotional expression and social communication.

-Train the basic social skills, like greetings, politeness, apologizing, etc.