ADHD and Bullying: How to Help (page 2)

By — Bullying Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Mar 19, 2012

How You Can Help

Although there are no easy solutions, research on bullying has shown that educators are in a strong position to help—and assertive parents can empower teachers to make a difference. Here are five ways that teachers, with the support of moms and dads, can help children and adolescents with ADHD who are bullies or victims:

  • Monitor Peer Relationships. Since children and adolescents with ADHD are at risk to be victims or bullies, it’s important to watch how they interact with other kids. Parents and teachers should keep the lines of communication open when they are concerned that a child may be a bully or a victim.
  • Implement Anti-Bullying Strategies. Modeling respectful behavior, developing and enforcing a code of conduct, encouraging children to report bullying, and praising children for cooperative and respectful behaviors with each other can all reduce the occurrence of teasing, aggression and exclusion in the classroom and school yard.
  • Create a Peer Conflict Mediation Program. When children with ADHD learn strategies for successful conflict resolution by being trained as conflict mediators, they are often able to apply them to their own conflicts. Conflict mediation programs involve teaching a large group of students strategies for resolving conflicts such as talking about feelings appropriately, asking questions that lead to compromises, and working together to find solutions. Schools with a large number of conflict mediators have lower levels of aggression on the playground than other schools.
  • Identify Behaviors that Provoke Victimization. Watch children with ADHD carefully to figure out which behaviors seem to upset or annoy their peers. Use modeling, explicit teaching, and role-playing to help them identify their own social problems, develop social goals, generate positive alternate behaviors, predict the consequences of their actions, and plan the steps to reach their goals. Through asking questions, help them understand different people’s views, and coordinate their needs with those of others. Include children without ADHD in the training to provide helpful, positive peer models.
  • Find Playground Pals. Friends of children with ADHD are typically people with similar interests and compatible personalities. Place them together on the seating chart, and have the children do group work together—as long as they’re not disruptive to the rest of the class.

Despite being prone to involvement in bullying situations, kids with ADHD can steer clear of aggressive situations with their peers with your help. Let them know that you’re available when they’re upset, listen to them, show that you care, and help them with problem solving. Your efforts to prevent bullying will pay off, at school and at home.

This article is based on the following research reports:

Cardoos, S.L. & Hinshaw, S. P. (2011). Friendship as protection from peer victimization for girls with and without ADHD. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 1035-1045.

Cunningham, C., Cunningham, L.J., Martorelli, V., Tran, A., Young, J., & Zacharias, R. (1998). The effects of primary division, student-mediated conflict resolution programs on playground aggression. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 39, 653-662.

Shea, B. & Wiener, J. (2003) Social Exile: The cycle of peer victimization for boys with ADHD. Canadian Journal of School Psychology. 18, 55-90.

Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence.

Timmermanis, V. & Wiener, J. (2011). Social risk factors for bullying in adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 26, 301-318.

Wiener, J. & Mak, M. (2009). Peer victimization in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychology in the Schools, 46, 116-131.

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