Life skills


This section helps you to:

  • Identify how parents, carers and teachers can help children with ADHD to develop and maintain friendships.

On this page:

  1. Developing and maintaining friendships ↓
  2. Overcoming barriers ↓

Developing and maintaining friendships

Developing and maintaining friendships are important for all children; however, it may be more difficult for children with ADHD.

A major issue is that children with ADHD are generally unable to read the signals of good communication, signs that most other children do understand. Children with ADHD may also appear different and amusing to others initially, but the novelty of their behaviour may wear off. They may also reach emotional maturity at an older age and therefore need additional adult support.

While parents/carers can’t force friendships between children, there are some steps to support and maintain friendships, for example:

  • Let your child invite friends home, but set clear rules
  • Only invite up to three friends home at any one time to prevent any situations getting out of control
  • Agree when they can see their friends and make clear to everyone the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable
  • Think carefully before taking your child’s friend away with you on a trip – factors may emerge that will cause problems and destroy the friendship
  • If your child wants to invite friends of different sexes, make sure there is an equal number of girls and boys
  • Discourage all trade and money transactions between your child and their friends and siblings.
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Overcoming barriers

Friendship skills, communication, social skills, positive self-esteem, self-knowledge, appropriate behaviour, interpreting others

Parents should encourage their children to find arenas for excellence, using their creativity and good spirit to help and inspire others. Social training can also be used if problems persist from the age of 10 years. The use of social media may also help to promote a network of friends with similar interests; however, it is important for this to be supervised and for parents to be aware of signs of cyber bullying.

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Coghill D, et al. Child Adoles Psych Mental Health 2008;2:31.

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Dosani S. Calm your hyperactive child (2008). Oxford, UK: Infinite Ideas Ltd.

Elia J, et al. Child Adoles Psych Mental Health 2008;2:15-23.

Klassen AF, et al. Pediatrics 2004;114;541-547.

O’Regan F. How to teach and manage children with ADHD (2010). Nottingham, UK: LDA.

These materials have been produced with practical advice and guidance provided by the expert European ADHD Awareness Taskforce.