Building Social Connections: Supporting Your Child's Friendships

Building Social Connections: Supporting Your Child's Friendships

Making and keeping friends when you are a kid can be hard, particularly when the child has been diagnosed with ADHD or autism. Building social skills and fostering positive relationships can be challenging for children with ADHD, but with the right guidance and support, they can thrive in their social lives. In this blog, I'll share some tips and strategies that parents can use to help their child make and keep friends.

  1. Teach social skills
    Children with ADHD and/or autism may struggle with social cues, making it difficult for them to navigate social situations and build friendships. As parents, you can help by teaching your child essential social skills, such as:

Listening: Encourage your child to practice active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and asking follow-up questions. You could work on this skill each night at the dinner table.
Taking turns: Teach your child the importance of sharing and waiting for their turn during conversations and activities.
Empathy: Help your child understand and express empathy by discussing emotions and encouraging them to consider the feelings of others.

  1. Encourage participation in structured activities
    Structured activities, such as sports, clubs, or classes, provide a controlled environment for your child to socialize and build relationships with their peers. These activities often have clear rules and expectations, making it easier for children to navigate social situations.
  2. Create opportunities for playdates
    Arrange regular playdates with classmates or neighbors, as this will give your child a chance to practice social skills in a familiar and comfortable setting. Be sure to provide structured activities during playdates, as this can help minimize conflicts and keep the children engaged.
  3. Foster open communication
    Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and experiences, both positive and negative, when it comes to friendships. This open dialogue can help you identify any issues your child may be experiencing and work together to find solutions.
  4. Model positive behavior
    Children often learn social skills by observing the behavior of their parents and caregivers. Be mindful of how you interact with and others, especially your child; make an effort to model positive social behavior, such as active listening, empathy, and effective communication.
  5. Collaborate with teachers and school staff
    Maintain open communication with your child's teachers and school staff to stay informed about their social progress and any challenges they may be facing. Together, you can develop strategies to support your child's social development at school. *Pro tip: Did you know if this is an area of weakness for your child and your child has an IEP, you can add social skills as a goal on the IEP? You are NOT alone in teaching this skill.
  6. Be patient and supportive
    Building friendships and social skills takes time, particularly for children with social skills deficites. Be patient with your child's progress and offer encouragement and support along the way. Celebrate their successes, no matter how small, and remind them that setbacks are a normal part of growth.

By following these tips and providing consistent support, you can help your ADHD child develop the social skills they need to make and maintain lasting friendships. Remember, every child is unique, and their journey to building friendships may look different. Be patient, understanding, and supportive as your child navigates the world of friendships.