Kids with ADHD, just like kids without ADHD, can be either very popular or not so popular at all. And of course, you have some that fall in the middle.
I think that the more severe the ADD symptoms, along with the ability to manage or not manage them, determines to a great extent whether one has friends or not.
Kids who manage their symptoms poorly, or whose symptoms are more impactful on their lives, often seem to be the ones who get labeled. They are the trouble makers or the dumb ones or the insert-your-derogatory-word-of choice.
A child whose symptoms show up early – say before around age 7 – may have a tougher time making and keeping friendships. Symptoms that impact their lives at such a young age are often strong ones. Social skills in particular, along with hyperactivity, are affected.
The younger a child is, the harder it is to help them manage. It’s harder for them to note when, for instance, their hyperactivity becomes a problem, much less be able to check it.
Kids with less severe symptoms can have problems with friendships too.
They may feel different from others and become shy or withdrawn. Those kids often end up making friends with whoever will have them – or at least whoever they feel will have them. Thus you end up with your child bringing home a future ax murderer and introducing him as his best friend. The future ax murderers of the world recognize weakness and prey upon it.
Sometimes, especially when a bright kid with ADHD starts to have trouble in school, you find yourself parenting the class clown. Being funny deflects attention and pain away from yourself and focuses it elsewhere. Your little clown has found a way to be a popular kid.
So what can you do?
For those with severe symptoms – or those who exhibit their symptoms early – make sure you are getting the best treatment you can. I would definitely advise an appointment with a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD. There may be other issues going on here. ADHD always comes with other things like anxiety, learning disabilities, depression and more. You need to find out everything.
Next, work with your child to help them see when they are acting inappropriately. Maybe you can come up with a subtle signal to let them know that they need to control themselves a little.
And of course, the other side to that is to help them learn skills to keep their symptoms under control. A professional such as a social worker, psychologist, or coach might help.
If your little darling is bringing home future ax murderers, first of all – head those friendships off fast! Next find other ways for your child to meet and interact with others. A team sport or an activity outside of school with new kids might do the trick.
Finally, the class clown is really crying out for some help. Check into learning resources, talk to the teacher about what she thinks might help, and do what you can to help them get their grades on track. Once they are more confident in their abilities and find that their grades more accurately reflect their intelligence, they are more likely to keep their antics at a reasonable level.
Friends are an important part of life. Kids with ADHD can make lifelong friendships. Sometimes it just takes some work.