How Can I Help my Child with ADHD Make Friends?

Parents often come to me feeling helpless and devastated as they watch their child struggle with loneliness and self-doubt. They long for their child to have friends, feel confident, and just want them to be happy. Kids with ADHD often struggle to make and keep friends. Here are some of the most common struggles I hear from clients:

  • They feel unwanted
  • They’re trying to self-protect to avoid rejection
  • They are inflexible
  • They don’t like the other kids
  • They’re shy or come on too strong
  • They’re missing social cues
  • Their social skills need improvement
  • They have low self-esteem and negative self talk

While we can’t totally solve this problem for our kids (and boy do I wish we could), we can offer support and help them create an environment where relationships can thrive.

Get Educated.

Learn as much as you can about ADHD. Understanding the way your child is wired is vital. They frequently have tendencies to hyper-fixate, miss social cues, and experience greater feelings of rejection (Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria) than their peers without ADHD. These unique struggles hinder relationships and good self-esteem. and are amazing resources.

Get Curious.

Some kids only desire one really good friend while others long to be part of a friendship group. Knowing what would make them relationally fulfilled is really important. It can be easy to project our own feelings and assume we know, but it’s always more helpful to find out how your child feels.

How does your child feel about their friendships (or sometimes lack thereof)?
Do they feel liked and included?
What story are they telling themselves? (Nobody likes me, I’m weird, etc…)
What do they wish was different?
Which of the struggles listed above apply? Are there any other obstacles?

Set the Foundation.

Many kids with ADHD could benefit from working with someone to increase their self-esteem and improve their social skills. A credentialed ADHD coach is a great place to start. Look for someone that specializes in working with children and teens. Here’s an article about finding a great coach. I often see children self-sabotage due to low self-esteem or impulsive behavior. It’s crucial that your child gains clarity about what they want, improves their confidence and social skills, and has actionable steps to take. Parent coaching can be a helpful tool as well, especially if Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is in play.

Take A Step.

When your child is ready to take a step, here are some practical ways to find and nurture prospective friends. Be sure that your child is aware and in agreement every step of the way.

  • Talk to your child’s teachers and school counselor. They may be able to connect your child with other students or keep a lookout for friendship opportunities.
  • Join a club or sport that aligns with your child’s interests. Roblox, horse riding, legos, books, music, etc. Finding like-minded kids can be a great starting point since they can bond over their shared interest. There are many online groups available as well.
  • Set up mini goals. For example, if you have a shy child, set a goal to compliment someone this week. Something as simple as “I like your shirt” can open a door and build confidence.
  • Depending on age, consider intervening and setting up some play dates. One-on-one is usually ideal. Consider an activity rather than free-play for the first get together.
  • Be a good friend to your child. Model how it looks and feels to be in a healthy relationship. Play a fun board game, go out for ice cream, go shopping, and be a safe space to share. Make sure they know they deserve to be treated with kindness and the importance of extending that kindness to others.


Why Will No One Play with Me? by Caroline Maguire

Friends: Making Them & Keeping Them by American Girl is great resource for girls in Elementary school or middle school (ages 7-13)

If you're ready to take the first step to work with a coach, book a free introductory call with me at to get started! No strings attached.

Ashley Dahl

Ashley is a professionally trained coach with over 10 years of experience. She attended the iACT Center (an ICF accredited program) to get her ADHD coaching certification and also has a background is in Early Childhood Education (Western Governors University). She specializes in ADHD coaching for children, teens and adults; health and wellness coaching, relationship and boundary coaching, and parenting support.