Patient Blogs | ADHD in Children
Interacting With Other Children
photo of boy being bullied in school

All children want friends. It is a normal part of growing up: Make friends in your neighborhood or school and play at school and after with those friends. For children with ADHD, however, that may be a struggle.

Children with ADHD have poor impulse control and have trouble reading social cues. They could interrupt, have trouble taking turns when playing games, have trouble understanding that other children don’t want to play, or they could be more easily frustrated and lash out.

When my son, D, was younger he really struggled in groups. Activities like kickball, group lessons in school, even playing games with his siblings could set him off with little to no warning. Children with ADHD are often emotionally immature compared with their peers, and this was always very evident with D. There was a small group of boys he grew up with that regularly made fun of him when he would have an outburst due to losing a game or not understanding something in class.

When he was in 5th grade, one of the year-end activities was a gradewide kickball tournament. I dreaded this for the whole year. When his class lost, just as I had feared, D had a meltdown complete with yelling, kicking, even throwing himself on the floor. It was as if he was a toddler having a temper tantrum. It took him a long time to calm down.  As children get older, they begin to recognize differences in other children and it can be very upsetting to a child with ADHD. He is in high school now and with the help of years of behavior therapy, he has learned to handle his frustrations much better.

What did we do to help him? We have tried many things. The most successful and helpful for the family was behavior therapy. We’ve had counselors come to the house and we saw therapists in their clinical setting. We currently have a counselor who specializes in relationship development intervention (RDI therapy). It helps with building social and emotional skills. Honestly, this has been incredibly helpful as D has always struggled with controlling his emotions.

Medication has also helped. Medication helps D control his impulses, and that helps his interactions with his peers. He still doesn’t have any close friends, but he is friendly with a lot of people. His brother says he sees him talking to a lot of people every day and has positive interactions. Because D also has high-functioning autism, this has been a long, often hard, road.

Perhaps the hardest for us as his parents has been patience and consistency. D doesn’t always respond to us positively, either. The therapists we have had over the years have helped us as well. I always say I have learned as much as, if not more than, D has from all of the wonderful professionals we have known.


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Photo Credit: Niedring/Drentwett / Cavan via Getty Images

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Stephanie Steinmetz

Stephanie Steinmetz

Diagnosed since 2009

Stephanie Steinmetz is a married mom of three children with ADHD and was herself diagnosed with the condition as an adult. She is self-educated in all things autism, ADHD, allergies, and anxiety in children. She loves to travel and loves the beach. She works in the clinic at an elementary school and lives in Florida with her husband, three kids, and three pets. 

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