This isn’t news: school can be a rough place for kids with the ADD/ADHD brain type.
Hopefully your children are in an environment that understands the idiosyncrasies of different learning styles, and with enough diversity to provide a more forgiving idea of what “normal” is. But even in the best school system, there is no predicting the way that children will treat each other socially. Sometimes, the dynamics simply get mean, and ADD/ADHD children can be easy targets.
If your child is in one of those classes, the one where the kids suddenly seem more like hungry sharks, you need to get a few messages across to your child, and repeat them until they are totally ingrained.
- When the group becomes the most important thing, the group will try to pull everyone into down. Maybe there is one (troublingly) bossy kid at the center, or maybe it’s just a sort of gang. Warn your child that they might be hostile towards non-members. Also reiterate your family’s values to your child, and your expectations for his or her behavior.
- In the best sense, a group that is a team tries very hard to stick to the same plan and work toward a shared goal. A team won’t work if it’s just a bunch of individuals doing their own thing on a field. But in terms it of social groups, the goal is usually less about victory and more about “being cool.” What sort of behavior does that entail? What about that behavior is inappropriate, unsafe, or generally not okay?
- By nature, groups thrive on mediocrity. If you want to be exceptional, then the group probably isn’t the place for you. Fitting in to a strict mold usually means hiding what makes you unique: talent, style, creativity, and anything else that makes someone notable. Remind your child why all of those special parts of who he or she is are worth expressing!
- It’s never okay to pick on someone weaker just to fit in. Maybe your child ends up in the clique, or outside of it but not a target of bullying. Address peer pressure before it becomes an issue, and make it clear that participating in the bullying of someone else “because everyone else does it” in is not acceptable.
It is important for children to understand this advice, and the deeper principles of conduct underneath the advice, before the age of 13. If not, the teenage years will be filled with some rocky social behavior in which your child learns The Golden Rule the hard way. Teens are not usually open to this sort of message if elementary and middle school has already been full of bullying and cliques. Your advice will go in one ear and out the other, since your son or daughter will feel so sure that their peer group’s behavior is acceptable and cool. They need to be shown the bigger picture. Tell your kids early and tell your kids often, “Question the group, don’t follow it.”