Drag or Join Your Child with ADHD,
Autism and/or Anxiety
Parents often tell me that their child would rather play video games or engage in some solitary activity than participate in a family or social activity.
- "Why doesn't he want to do anything fun?"
- "She throws a fit when I try to get her to do something with the family."
- "He won't learn to be social if he doesn't want to do anything."
- "He should want to hang out with us."
The "logical" thought is that any child would be excited to go hang out with the family or do something social with peers.
Shouldn't we just "drag" him with us? Shouldn't we just make him hang out with other kids?
Yes and No
There are numerous reasons why your child would prefer to engage in a solitary activity. Here are a few -
- Fear of rejection. My oldest son has been rejected so many times by peers (severe ADHD). If peers called you "Strange", "Weird" and "Crazy", would you avoid social interactions? Probably.
- Anxiety. When a child is anxious, he/she tries to control the environment and the people in it. People are not always predictable so social interactions can be scary and uncomfortable.
- Social skills deficits. What happens when you don't know what to say or the right time to say it?
- Limited interests. Some children have limited interests. When you suggest taking them away from one of the only things that bring them joy, they may resist.
Sometimes we need to meet them where they are.
Dragging them away from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity will likely cause significant anxiety. Join them. Take time and learn about their likes. Consider the following when joining your child:
- Praise him
- Don't give any commands
- Show interest
- Ask some questions about his activity
Your child is playing video game. Consider the following comments or questions when showing interest in their play.
- "Wow! You are doing such a great job building. "
- "I really like the waterfall you made."
- "You are great at playing ______"
- "What is your favorite thing to do in ________?"
*Keep in mind that it is VERY IMPORTANT for your child to join the activities of others.
However, we are MORE likely to drag than join. Don't forget to take time to join your child in her/his interests.
Hang in there, Friend!
Holly Blanc Moses
Mom/Psychologist/Behavior Analyst WHO GETS IT!