Children with ADD can often have difficulty with social interactions both with peers and with their family. Such children often get “wound up” and “don’t know when to stop”. They thus, tend to violate other peoples boundaries”. The result is that they can alienate others without really understanding that they are doing so, why, and without really meaning to. Several things can be done to help with this phenomenon:
- Allow “senseless fun”. At home and with the family, the child needs to be able to have some “silly time” with parents and siblings and not have all playtime structured towards goals (e.g. games). Concurrent with this, any specific difficulties in particular relationships within the family between the child and either parents or siblings should be brought out into the open and discussed, perhaps with professional assistance.
- Peer interactions need to be somewhat structured and supervised by adults – especially early in the relationship with a new friend. The first time a new friend comes over to visit, the activities should be kept structured by the adult (for instance taken them to a movie, go bowling, etc.). This allows time for the two children to feel like they are having fun together (what could be better than going to a movie sitting in the dark and eating popcorn?) while providing little to no opportunity for them to “bug each other”. It is always best to cut off the time the children have together a little bit too soon. Do not give things time to deteriorate. Better the child go home sooner than they wanted to and want to come back than to stay a little too long and have things deteriorate into something unpleasant.
- Telephone use should be strongly encouraged. Kids with ADD often discover that they are great at talking on the phone. At the late elementary school age, they can become the first kid in their class to be actively reaching out and “touching someone” and this can greatly enhance their standing in their peer group. Too often, parents take the opposite tact, trying to discourage kids from spending time on the telephone. This is just the wrong idea for a kid who has ADD and peer interaction difficulties. You might even want to consider getting them their own phone line.
- Sleep away summer camp can be a wonderful experience for the older child with ADD. In most cases, if the child is taking any medication, it is best to continue that while at summer camp.
- For kids aggressive impulses, learning to discipline and control those impulses is very important. Sports which involve a great deal of practice and discipline imposed by a respected coach or teacher (e.g. karate, football) can be very beneficial in this regard.