5 Ways Children with ADHD Can Make a Difference in Their Relationships with Parents, Teachers, and Friends
Deborah Farmer Kris
Testing has identified ADHD in more than 8.5 million children. While ADHD is a common disorder, some children are at greater risk than others. Focusing on strengthening the key strengths of children with ADHD can have a positive impact. In fact, students with ADHD are more engaged in education and often do better on standardized tests than those without ADHD.
As researchers dive deeper into the biological and social factors that explain the differing qualities of kids with ADHD, it’s become clear that children with ADHD have a wide range of strengths that can help them grow. These strengths differ from child to child, but they can all help kids be more successful in school.
Finding ways to leverage these strengths can also help everyone involved, from parents to teachers. Often, when kids with ADHD exhibit difficulties, the focus is often on their performance at school. Let’s take a closer look at how children with ADHD can stand out.
Build friendships with friends who share similar interests and goals.
As children grow, new friends and friendships can come into their lives. But many children with ADHD have challenges making friends. To increase the likelihood of friendships being made, it’s important to listen to kids in your child’s life. What are their questions? What types of activities do they enjoy? Do they have friends who do? With this, you can help them make friends and be connected to others in your child’s life.
Find ways to channel a child’s positive energy.
Another important skill when working with kids with ADHD is learning to channel their energies in positive ways. Studies have shown that children with ADHD are often as creative and outgoing as their peers. Yet, in some cases, they can get swept up in other activities, making ADHD a burden rather than a strength. Through direct talk or engaging in role playing, parents can help kids focus on being creative and positive and then channel the energy into activities that are out of their wheelhouse. Kids can also find ways to recognize their strengths and do extra work or activities with their teachers to boost their self-esteem and skills.
Learn to control their emotions.
As you work with kids with ADHD, you will likely find that anger, frustration, disappointment, and other negative emotions are often visible in children with ADHD. While these emotions may well be a part of any child’s development, there are some time-tested strategies to help manage these emotions, whether you see them or not. Parents who’ve coached their children through anger issues and learned how to avoid childhood trauma can help their children be more effective in managing emotions. It’s also useful to create a safe space where kids can air their frustration, allowing them to see what bothers them and making choices that are more aligned with their positive feelings. Finally, if you find that your child needs help learning to control their emotions, you can find help for this skill with professional counseling services or a child-care center.
Routines, as they have been shown to help build self-discipline, independence, and focus in kids with ADHD.
Routines are particularly helpful for kids with ADHD as they have found it helpful in school to help kids work through complex problems. Routines can help children make connections between their thinking processes, exerting control over the actions they take, and being able to make plans with confidence. Even if you don’t have a regular routine for all the things you do every day, imagine how helpful routines are for your kids. Many routines can have specific rules about homework and how to handle certain situations at home or at school.
Act like you know how things work.
Some kids with ADHD find it helpful to have a plan for how to respond to certain situations. Parents should take these opportunities to reassure children that they know how the world works and that life doesn’t always go as planned. Kids who have difficulty gaining grip on information, that won’t always be communicated clearly, might be able to gain some insight by having an organized plan. These children may be able to build a greater level of confidence in themselves by being sure they know how things work. They can also gain new and important skills, including the ability to problem solve.
Look beyond social media.
When thinking about ways to help kids with ADHD, don’t forget the most important ingredient – time. This is especially helpful when helping with schoolwork. Kids with ADHD are able to cope well with classroom interactions, but missing school work and attending events that are outside of the classroom is a pattern that can hold kids back from accomplishing their goals. So a parent’s job is to build routines and establish time to connect with children, no matter the environment.