Purposeful Parenting Month: How parents can help ADHD children make friends?

In the words of American author Helen Keller, “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” The presence of friends makes this world a better place to live in. While everybody wants to have good friends, children with a mental health problem need them more. Kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) find it difficult to make and maintain friends. They are often rejected by their peers and judged by teachers for their poor social skills.

Peer-rejected ADHD children are more vulnerable to problem behaviors, including defiance, rule-breaking tendency and aggression. Therefore, it is important to help these children make friends and parents can help. Parents of ADHD children should teach their children the art of making friends. Here are a few suggestions that parents can consider to help their children take control of their emotions and display amicable behavior:

Teach and reward: Parents can consider a weekly incentive-based fun reward program in which they, along with their child, can work on one or two social skills, including sharing or taking turns. The child would then get a pre-decided reward for displaying the desired social behavior in his or her routine life. The parents, especially the mother, can help her child interact with peers. However, it is important that the parents do not get disheartened if the child fails to exhibit the social skills immediately as it is not as easy as it may appear. It is crucial to have patience until the child learns to act on this reward program.

Encouraging movement and sleep: Parents should encourage their ADHD children to participate in physical activities. These activities, including organized sports, can help them channelize their energy through healthy ways and direct their attention on specific movements and skills. Other benefits of physical activity may include improved concentration, reduced depression and anxiety, and better brain growth. Furthermore, it helps children with attention deficits enjoy better sleep, which, in turn, may alleviate symptoms of ADHD.

Parents should target a sport that suits their kids’ strengths and interests. Individual or team sports like hockey or basketball that require constant motion can fit the bill. Parents can also consider martial arts, taekwondo or yoga that are known to enhance mental control. It is always good to allow some buffer time to help the body relax before bedtime. Activities such as reading and coloring before bedtime can help enjoy a good sleep. Moreover, spending 10 minutes cuddling with the child gives him or her a sense of love and security while allowing some time to calm down.

Positive attitude: Positive attitude can have a tremendous influence. It can help parents empower their ADHD child to deal with the challenges of the disorder. Calm and focused parents are in a better position to connect with their children and help them learn to be calm and focused as well. However, it can be difficult at times to maintain composure. In this situation, it is crucial to keep things in perspective. Parents should not forget that their children are battling a mental health disorder. Moreover, they should not have unreasonably high hopes. Children take their own time and parents have to acknowledge that. Finding pleasure in “what’s achieved” than “what’s not” is good for both parents and children. Most importantly, parents must believe in the child’s ability. Parents can also maintain a list of things that are valuable, unique and positive about their children.

The United States observes July as the Purposeful Parenting Month to boost positive ties between parents and children. During this month, children are home for vacation. So, it gives parents enough time to have open discussions with their child and get an opportunity to understand how they feel about sensitive issues in life.

Seeking treatment for mental health problems

Mental disorders such as ADHD or depression can be treated with timely medical intervention. The 24/7 Mental Health Helpline offers valuable information on screening and treatment of mental health and mental disorders. You can call at our 24/7 helpline 855-653-8178 or chat online to know more about mental health rehabilitation centers in the U.S.