Improving social skills for ADHD takes time and effort. Just by nature, individuals with ADHD struggle with many social settings. Things that come natural for most people such as listening to someone else, casual conversation, or striking up friendships, present struggles for people with ADHD. You can identify five of the biggest social struggles for individuals with ADHD at the post at this link.
These struggles can also look different for different people and age groups with ADHD. For instance, a child with ADHD learning to interact in the classroom might look drastically different from the adult with ADHD trying to connect with co-workers.
Unfortunately, we cannot provide the one easy answer that will fix every social interaction. We can, however, provide some strategies for you to use for hopefully improving social skills for ADHD in your life and circumstance.
Improving Social Skills for ADHD in Children
As mentioned before, improving social skills for ADHD looks different for kids and adults. As a parent, you may have found yourself asking, why does my ADHD child have trouble socializing?
To get to the bottom of this, let’s look at the issues further. Let’s first look at kids and the different environments in which they might need some help on improving their social interactions.
For improving social skills for ADHD in children in the home, you need to learn to set boundaries. The most important boundaries surrounding social skills should involve the activities that draw your child into solitude.
For instance, many ADHD children love technology and video games. While video games can provide benefits, you need to understand why you have difficulty getting your child to stop playing them. Unfortunately, many video games limit social interaction and replace it with fantasy and role-play. Fantasy and role-play have their places, but they cannot be your child’s whole life.
If your child likes to play video games, make sure to limit their time playing them to no more than 30-60 mins each day. To help encourage your child to play with others, you could offer them additional time if they play a game that involves others such as a racing game or sports game.
In the classroom
Improving social skills for ADHD in the classroom can present difficulties for you as the parent. This can be particularly difficult because you aren’t in the classroom with your child on a regular basis. What you can do that can provide benefit is work to build community with the families of the kids in your child’s classroom.
You should make every opportunity to attend any parent gathering for the school. Strike up a conversation and get to know other parents of kids in your child’s class. Through building relationships, you can work with other parents to help encourage positive social interactions between all kids in the classroom. If you find it challenging to connect with other parents, you can find tips on building better relationships at this link.
Additionally, you should ask your child about how they feel about school and their classmates. Ask them specific questions and get to know the kids in the classroom as your child sees them. The more you know the more that you can help recommend ways to foster more social interactions with kids your child knows.
Ask about common interests and attributes your child admires in their classmates. Encourage your child to ask other students to play games with them or do things together outside the classroom that they both enjoy.
Ultimately, your job as the parent when it comes to the classroom should be to present and encourage a positive feeling towards it. You need to show that you have excitement towards school. Your child will see your excitement and get excited themselves and want to get more involved in the social aspects of the classroom. Your excitement will make your ADHD child excited about school and making friends.
In sports and community activities
Team sports and other community activities just might provide one of the best environments for improving social skills for ADHD in kids. Team sports provide many different types of social interactions. All within one sport, you child has a social relationship with authority in their coach, one of comradery in their fellow team members, and one of respectful competition in their opponents.
When you enroll your child in sports, you want to first introduce them to each of these relationships. To help build their social skills, you need to teach them how interactions with each group should go.
Tell them that they need to show respect to their coaches. Show them how to be a good team player by cheering on their teammates. Finally, let them know that everyone loses sometimes. Teach them to be a gracious loser and to show respect to their opponents.
Many of these lessons take time and effort on your part. Make sure you go to practices and games and exhibit positive behavior that your child can emulate. Your child mirrors many of their actions and responses off of you. As a result, you should always show respect to coaches and referees. This teaches your child that authority matters and that each person should be treated with dignity. If you want to get your child involved in sports, but don’t know where to begin, check out this post on the best sports for ADHD.
Similarly, community activities such as boy or girl scouts, Community Theater, or something similar, provide just as many great opportunities for improving social skills. These activities introduce your child to more relationships than just the family and school dynamic. The more environments that your child has access to, the more well-versed they will become in any social setting.
Improving Social Skills for ADHD in Adults
Not only do kids need help with improving social skills for ADHD, but so do adults. The environments that adults function in and the ways ADHD might appear might be different, but still adults with ADHD many times need just as much help with their social interactions. Just as with kids, let’s look at three of the most important areas that adults might need help with social skills.
For romantic relationships
Romantic relationships may present the most difficult social interactions for adults with ADHD. In fact, ADHD tends to have a large impact on marriages that unfortunately many couples struggle to overcome. For this reason, we start looking at improving social skills for ADHD in adults in looking closer at romantic relationships. Whether the relationship has just begun or you just celebrated your 10-year anniversary, chances are there exists room for improvement.
Any long-term relationship presents unique challenges. With ADHD added into the equation, some of those challenges become more difficult. In order to improve your connection in a relationship, you need to focus on making sure that your partner feels loved and appreciated.
Unfortunately, many adults with ADHD struggle with empathy. ADHD and empathy don’t have to sink your relationships, though. You can work to make understanding better.
For improving social skills for ADHD in romantic relationships, you need to focus on building understanding. To improve your relationships, make a reminder to ask your partner two specific questions about their day each and every day. Also, ask them specifically how they feel about decisions you make. This doesn’t have to be every day, but should occur fairly regularly so they hear that you care. When they tell you how they feel, make sure to acknowledge their feelings and be considerate of them.
Finally, to improve social skills in romantic relationships, remember that actions always speak louder than words. Relationship take hard work and effort to be successful. Ask your partner often what you can do for them to help them out.
If your partner asks you to do something, make special effort to do it well and soon. Showing that you hear and care through actions will go a long way towards building a stronger relationship connection.
Within the family
Secondly, improving social skills for ADHD in adults should include looking at interactions within the family. These interactions can include between parents, between parents and kids, or between parents and extended family.
Unfortunately, as people, we tend to take our closest most important relationships for granted, particularly within our own family. To help improve your family relationships, you need to recognize this weakness in particular and other weaknesses as well. Recognizing weaknesses in familial relationships can help strengthen the home environment.
For building better social interactions at home, you need to become adept at asking questions and listening. Ask questions about your family’s day and likes and dislikes. Hear them out when they speak and learn to respond to what they say and try to incorporate things each family member likes to do as you plan activities and events.
One important thing that should apply to all relationships especially those within a family is humility and being able to acknowledge your own mistakes. To help improve social skills within your family, you need to start with personal reflection.
You should consider how you have treated each member of your family. Consider how you may have said or done something that might have hurt or disappointed them. Relationships within the family should be built on trust and trust needs to involve admitting when you have done something wrong and trying to make it right.
Improving social skills for ADHD within the family will take some time. This dynamic, though, has a profound impact on your relationships in other environments, so be sure not to ignore or take your family for granted. Maintaining positive and healthy relationships at home should take priority in all your social interactions.
Finally, more than likely, no matter who we are, we could use help improving social skills for ADHD in the workplace. Depending on your particular work environment, this could be more or less difficult. No matter the environment, though, you can still work on your social interactions any time or anywhere.
In order to improve social skills you need to have as many opportunities for social interactions as possible. Although intimidating, getting better at being social requires you to be proactive. For the workplace, this means making the extra effort to ask questions about your co-workers and get to know them better. If you need thinking of questions to ask, you can try some of the ones on this list.
One task you can try would be to list out for yourself certain things that you want to know more about your co-workers. After you have a list of things mapped out, you need to then do the harder work of engaging your co-workers to find the answers to your questions. Work on making the questions you ask natural and part of normal conversation. Focus in conversations on always finding out something new about your co-workers. This way you will never run out of things to talk about.
Also, to help improve your social interactions, make a note to follow up with each co-worker about one specific thing they mentioned they liked. Maybe a week later, you can ask them a follow up questions about a favorite song or sport. Show interest in what they have interest in.
Much of social interaction depends on building a connection over common interests. Seek out these interests and once you have identified them follow up and build on them.
Improving Social Skills for ADHD Takes Time and Effort
Social skills typically do not come naturally for most people with ADHD. Many individuals with ADHD need to give special attention towards better improving their social skills. The good thing happens to be that many things about our social interactions can be learned. Some people have personalities, which make them better adept at certain social situations. Still, we all can learn to improve our social skills with time and effort.
If you find yourself at a lost in social situations, you shouldn’t feel as if you are weird or alone. Many people struggle with different social interactions. You can build your social skills over time. Take some of the advice from this post and try to put it into practice this week.
Make some way of measuring or judging your progress so you can know the impact the changes have. Hopefully, this can provide encouragement for you. Improving social skills for ADHD might be a slow process, but you can get there with the right tools and right input of time and effort.