Nurturing Social Skills in Hyperactive Children
Kids display an amazing variety of social skills and styles. Some kids like to have one or two close friends, while others are happier having a big group of buddies. Most kids eventually find their niche in the social scene. However, learning social skills can be challenging for kids with extreme personality traits.
Children who are hyperactive, impulsive and/or disruptive for example, may struggle to make and keep friends. Such a child behaves like a bull in a china shop, and has trouble waiting his turn during games and conversations.
If your child is hyperactive and impulsive, try these tips to tame his social skills:
- Find a positive outlet for his energy. Let him tackle household chores that make good use of his boundless energy. Have him run out to pick up the mail, roll the garbage and recycling bins to the curb, and rake the leaves for you!
- Watch him carefully in high-risk situations. Step in to avert his disruptive behavior when necessary, and give him specific, constructive feedback.
- Praise his positive behavior early and often. Frequent feedback is especially important for hyperactive children. Tell him right away when you “catch him being good.”
- Set well-defined playtime rules and boundaries. Kids who tend to “bounce off the walls” feel more secure if they have rules to rein them in. For example, allow your child to run around at the park as long as he doesn’t push other children or go beyond certain boundaries (like the edge of the parking lot).
Four Tips to Nurture Social Skills in any Child
No matter what social skills a child has (or lacks), there are a few basic tips parents can try to improve his social success:
- Find teachable moments in everyday life. Relationship skills and habits learned at home set the stage for how your child relates to others. For example, playing board games with the family – waiting for his turn and being a good sport -- helps your child learn how to play cooperatively.
- Practice what you preach. Model good social skills for your child. Do you interrupt other people during conversations? Do you display road rage and honk your horn in heavy traffic? The example you set makes a bigger impression than you think.
- Get to know your child's friends. Pay attention to how they interact with, influence, and react to your child's behavior. Give your child feedback about what you observe.
- Praise the positive. Compliment your child when he treats others with respect and care. Give him specific feedback, such as telling him how patient and polite he was at his friend’s birthday party.
Could it be ADHD?
If you consistently practice the tips described above, and your child wants to change his behavior but has a hard time doing so, it’s possible that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD. Your child’s pediatrician can help you start the process of having him evaluated for ADHD.
For more information on this topic, see:
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