Vanessa Armstrong says she feels a little nervous every time she goes out with her son Aiden, especially when he’s interacting with other children. She worries her son will have trouble controlling his impulsivity and other kids will make fun of him for it.
“I tend to gravitate toward families who either deal with ADHD in their home or have some experience with it,” the London, Ont., mom says. “I have also learned that Aiden does better in one-on-one situations, like playdates, versus at things like large birthday parties.”
Follow these tips to set up playdates that work for your kid with ADHD.
1. Pick the right parents
Today’s Parent launches ADHD book for Canadian parentsExperts agree it’s important to choose children (and parents) for playdates who are compatible, such as those you meet through an ADHD parenting support group. The last thing the parent of a kid with ADHD needs is to feel judged.
2. Keep it small
Kids with ADHD tend to do better with one or two other kids than with a large group.
3. Keep it short
Limit a first playdate to an hour to reduce the chance of something going wrong.
4. Talk to the parents
If the playdate or birthday party isn’t at your house, be open with other parents about your child’s ADHD. Make sure they know what to expect and how to handle any outbursts. If your child is on a restricted diet, this is also your opportunity to make sure parents know to stay away from snacks that contain dyes or other ingredients you’re trying to limit.
5. Turn off devices
Playdates can help children with ADHD build their underdeveloped executive functioning skills, especially if they’re not distracted by tablets or video game systems.