What Type of Friend Are You? How ADHD Influences Friendships

What Type of Friend Are You? How ADHD Influences Friendships

Whether you collect new friends easily or lean on a few, long-term friendships dating back to kindergarten, there’s no wrong way to build relationships. This is true especially for people with ADHD, who often report that their symptoms complicate, challenge, and color friendships. The ones that work are the ones that accept and celebrate their ADHD.

What Type of Friend Are You?

“I fall in the Selectively Acquisitive Friendship Style category; I am very careful and particular about who I label a ‘friend.’ Anybody who I don’t refer to as a friend is my ‘acquaintance.’ My ex used to laugh at this distinction, but it’s super important because it helps me decide how much time I spend with these people, and if I make an emotional investment in them. Yes, I help everyone when in need, but I will do it much more for my designated ‘friends.’” — BAT

“I’ve always migrated toward long-term friendships that can tolerate long gaps in communication, as well as friendships where we can talk for hours about things we’ve read or learned, or be just as happy sitting on the same couch each immersed in our own hyperfocuses.” — Anonymous

“My husband says I’m like a semi-truck with an engine that’s too small. I genuinely want to be friends with everyone, but I have difficulty keeping up with the logistics of maintaining friendships (due to my executive function weaknesses and anxiety). So, I have a long to-do list of people I need to text, call, email, etc.” — Anonymous

“Since I graduated from college, I have had trouble establishing friendships. I feel anxious about reaching out to potential friends outside of work or other organized activities; I worry that they will be too busy or uninterested in doing things with me. I once invited a co-worker and her husband over for dinner with me and my family. She accepted the invitation, but a few days later told me, ‘My life is too busy — I don’t have time for any more friends.’ That really stung!” — Anonymous

“I prefer intimate hangouts because boisterous get-togethers often overwhelm me. I tend to focus on a few long-term friendships, but being a military spouse means I have to be able to pick up new friends easily whenever we move.” — Anonymous

“I typically gravitate toward people who excite me. I’m also a bit co-dependent and find I search for long-term, meaningful relationships.” — Anonymous

“I’m extremely nervous around quiet people. I start to do nervous chatter, and they don’t reciprocate so I move on. I dread being around them! But I also get overstimulated in noisy environments. I like intimate hangouts with a few good friends who like to talk. I was the one who got moved in elementary school for talking too much. But then I’d make friends with the new table.” — Anonymous

“I would say I’m an ambivert. I can be really social for a few hours and then I’m socially spent. I have lots of lifelong friendships but also make spontaneous new friendships. However, I often don’t have the energy to maintain new relationships.” — Anonymous

“When I’m in good social form, I love talking with everyone. I’m a little afraid to put all of my friends together in one room because I’m not sure how well they’d get along. I love my ADHD friends because they are a less judgmental bunch. If I’m late or crazy-spontaneous or any of the other quirks that come with the territory, they get it. And they like me, for me. Recently, I realized that I’m a social chameleon who adapts to the people around me, hiding the ‘unacceptable’ parts of myself depending on the company. As a result, I’m not sure who the unvarnished, unmasked me is — I’d like to find that person. It probably would be less stressful and not so freaking isolating.” — Anonymous

“I really need friends who don’t need me to call every day or plan things regularly, but when we get together there seems like no gap in our friendship. We trust that we are always there for each other. My best friend and I could talk forever (we’re both time blind), and the subject can change mid-sentence or at least every two minutes. I am sure she has undiagnosed ADHD; we understand each other far too well!” — Glenda

Why unstructured free play is a key remedy to bullying

Why unstructured free play is a key remedy to bullying

October was National Bullying Prevention Month , and in my decade of teaching in high-poverty public elementary schools, I’ve seen strategy after strategy and initiative after initiative implemented to decrease bullying.

While every case is unique, having a general understanding of why a student chooses to bully can be helpful.

Kids usually bully for one of the following reasons: they are frustrated with life’s circumstances and don’t have the emotional tools to cope, they don’t have many friends and are lonely, they have issues with emotional regulation, or they feel powerless to control their life for any number of reasons. Our school’s approach to bullying is simple, yet effective: Unstructured free play. Seriously? Yes. Stay with me.

In the years since my school began incorporating more and more unstructured free play into our school day (before school by opening up our playground, during school by adding an additional recess, and after school by adding a Play Club), our students are happier, kinder, have fewer behavior problems, have made more friends, feel more in control of their day and their life in general, and in some cases have dramatically changed course from bullying behaviors and frequent office referrals to no bullying behaviors and no office referrals.

When we understand the root causes of bullying behavior, we can see why unstructured free play is helping our students so dramatically.

Unstructured free play addresses–head-on–making friends, learning empathy, learning emotional regulation, learning interpersonal skills, and it greatly empowers students by helping them find a healthy place in their school community–all while teaching them life’s most important skills like creativity, innovation, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, self-direction, perseverance, and social skills.

It turns out the skills our students need most can’t be learned through direct instruction from a teacher, but instead are acquired through real life experiences with their peers. When my school stopped treating students just as empty brains to fill with knowledge but instead holistic people with a huge social-emotional component to nurture, adding more time with their peers in free play was a no-brainer. So what have we seen, and how does this help fight bullying?
Let me tell you a story. A few years ago I had a student who walked around with a chip on his shoulder. He never smiled, never laughed, and always seemed angry. He was cruel to other kids, had frequent behavior issues in class, and in the course of one week had three office referrals from three different teachers for his extreme behaviors. Other kids would label him a bully, but where they saw a bully , we as teachers saw a hurting and lonely child in need of friends. He was the kind of student who was always disciplined by […]

Why is gamified learning through creative learning activities important for early childhood education

Why is gamified learning through creative learning activities important for early childhood education

The pandemic has been especially disruptive for early childhood learners. Bright vibrant classrooms, games and activities with peers were replaced with computer screens as a mode of learning. These challenges necessitated the need to leverage technology and make learning engaging, meaningful and personalized. Many Ed-Tech companies operating in the PreK-12 segment took up the challenge, innovated and offered exciting options for learning which included simulations, animations, video-based learning and gamification of content.

Gamified learning is one of the most prominent trends which has been successfully implemented in early childhood learning. While it was being used even before the pandemic, this approach gained particular prominence during the lockdown. How is early childhood learning impacted by gamification you might ask.

Why is Early Childhood Important for a Child’s Overall Development?

The term Early Childhood encompasses the age group of children from birth to 8 years. This is a wondrous time of development and change. These years are marked by simultaneous and integrated growth in the physical, cognitive, linguistic, sensory and socio-emotional domains of a child. All these domains are equally important as they interrelate and overlap throughout a child’s development and their journey of exploring the world.

Here’s an interesting fact; did you know that the brain of a child under three years of age is super active? It makes almost 700 to 1,000 neural connections every second! These neural circuits support and build a child’s sensory, motor, and cognitive skills and control all their responses. During this time span, brain development is at its peak and grows to 90 percent of its adult size by between the ages of 3-5 years! Up till the age of 8 these capacities are rapidly strengthened.

Therefore, this period is critical for laying the foundations for logical and creative thinking, problem-solving, learning multiple languages, forming behavioral patterns, building motor skills, and securing emotional well-being. The skills and abilities developed during these years often predict a child’s future functioning and achievements.

Let’s explore the concept of gamified learning.

Early childhood research proves that children learn best through active, sensorial exploration and engagement. Game or play-based learning nurtures the physical, social, intellectual, emotional and creative abilities of a child. Therefore, gamification of learning and engaging young learners in creative learning activities is a powerful method of optimizing a child’s overall development.

Think about a game of Ludo, Snakes & Ladders or any other game or sport that young children play. The common factors in all of them are engagement, fun, a goal and the motivation to win.

When these factors are applied to learning, the result is ‘gamification’.

Gamification helps build the learner’s engagement, clarifies or strengthens concepts and skills through an activity-based, hands-on approach to learning.
Gamification of learning has also proven to […]

What to Know Anxious Attachment and Tips to Cope

Anxious Attachment and Tips to Cope

Anxious attachment is one of four attachment styles that develop in childhood and continue into adulthood. These attachment styles can be secure (a person feels confident in relationships) or insecure (a person has fear and uncertainty in relationships).

Also known as ambivalent attachment or anxious-preoccupied attachment, anxious attachment can result from an inconsistent relationship with a parent or caregiver.

Adults who are anxiously attached may be considered needy or clingy in their relationships and lack healthy self-esteem.1

Through approaches such as therapy, it’s possible to change attachment styles or learn to have healthy relationships despite attachment anxiety.

What’s Your Attachment Style?

There are four main attachment styles. The following are some of the ways they may manifest in relationships:1

  • Secure attachment: Able to set appropriate boundaries; has trust and feels secure in close relationships; thrives in relationships but does well on their own as well
  • Anxious attachment: Tends to be needy, anxious, and uncertain, and lacks self-esteem; wants to be in relationships but worries that other people don’t enjoy being with them
  • Avoidant-dismissive attachment: Avoids closeness and relationships, seeking independence instead; doesn’t want to rely on others or have others rely on them
  • Disorganized attachment: Fearful; feel they don’t deserve love

History of Attachment Theory

British psychiatrist John Bowlby developed the foundations of attachment theory from 1969 to 1982.2

Attachment theory suggests that early life experiences, particularly how safe and secure you felt as a young child, determine your attachment style as an adult. These events shape your ability to develop trust, boundaries, self-esteem, feelings of security, and other factors at play in relationships.3

Developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth built upon Bowlby’s theory with her “strange situation” test to determine the nature and styles of attachment behavior. The assessment consists of a mother leaving her infant alone with a stranger for a few minutes. The infant’s response is observed and coded when they’re reunited with their mother.2

Exploration of adult attachment began in the mid-1980s by researchers such as Mary Main, Phil Shaver, and Mario Mikulincer.

Attachment theory’s principles are currently supported by hundreds of studies on bonding between child and parent and between adult partners.4

How Closely Linked Are Childhood and Adult Attachment Styles?

While it’s generally accepted that early attachment experiences influence attachment style in adult romantic relationships, the degree to which they are related is less clear-cut. Studies vary in their findings on the source and degree of overlap between the two.5

Characteristics of Anxious Attachment

Anxious attachment is an insecure attachment. Insecure attachment can take one of three forms: ambivalent, avoidant, or disorganized.1

It’s believed that anxious attachment in childhood is a result of inconsistent caregiving. More specifically, the children are loved but their needs are met unpredictably. A parent or primary caregiver may respond immediately and attentively to a child sometimes but not at other times.6

This inconsistency can be a result of factors such as parental substance use, depression, stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

Children raised without consistency can view attention as valuable but unreliable. This prompts anxiety and can cause a child to perform attention-seeking behaviors, both positive and negative.

Adults with anxious attachment often need constant reassurance in relationships, which can come off as being needy or clingy.1

One study showed that anxious attachment can affect trust in a relationship. Further, those who are anxiously attached are more likely to become jealous, snoop through a partner’s belongings, and even become psychologically abusive when they feel distrust.7

Recognizing the Signs in Yourself

Some indications that you might be experiencing anxious attachment include:

  • Worrying a lot about being rejected or being abandoned by your partner
  • Frequently trying to please and gain approval from your partner
  • Fearing infidelity and abandonment
  • Wanting closeness and intimacy in a relationship, but worrying if you can trust or rely on your partner1
  • Overly fixating on the relationship and your partner to the point it consumes much of your life
  • Constantly needing attention and reassurance (can be viewed as needy or clingy)
  • Having difficulty setting and respecting boundaries
  • Feeling threatened, panicked, angry, jealous, or worried your partner no longer wants you when you spend time apart or don’t hear from your partner during what most would consider a reasonable amount of time; may use manipulation to get your partner to stay close to you
  • Tying self-worth in with relationships
  • Overreacting to things you see as a threat to the relationship

Recognizing the Signs in Someone Else

A partner who is anxiously attached may exhibit similar behaviors as those listed above, but you can’t know for sure how they are feeling unless they tell you.

Signs of Anxious Attachment in a Partner

  • Regularly seeks your attention, approval, and reassurance
  • Wants to be around you and in touch with you as much as possible
  • Worries you will cheat on them or leave them
  • Feels threatened, jealous, or angry and overreacts when they feel something is threatening the relationship

Strategies for Coping

While anxious attachment can be challenging in a relationship, having a loving, healthy relationship is possible. There are ways to address and get beyond attachment problems in your relationship, including:8

Short Term

  • Research: Learn about attachment styles, which ones best apply to you and, if applicable, your partner.
  • Keep a journal: Keep track of your thoughts and feelings in a journal. This is a helpful exercise for getting out your emotions, and it may help you recognize some patterns in your thoughts and behaviors. It may be worthwhile to bring your journal to therapy sessions where you can unpack its contents with your mental health professional.
  • Choose a partner who has a secure attachment: The chances of success in a relationship for someone with anxious attachment are higher if they are paired with someone who is securely attached.
  • Practice mindfulness: Regularly engaging in mindfulness exercises can help you learn to manage your emotions and your anxiety.
How Many Christmas Presents Should You Buy Your Children?

How Many Christmas Presents Should You Buy Your Children?

One of the most celebrated traditions of Christmas is sharing gifts with your loved ones. For that reason, Christmas is one of the holidays most favored by children, who are often treated to several toys and other gifts on the day.

Toy sales in the U.S. soared in 2020, with millions of families kept home by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a February 2021 statement from the Toy Association: “One silver lining of the pandemic is that it has helped families rediscover the joys of spending time together and find value in bringing play into their daily lives.”

The association projected that this year families would be “seeking new toys that promote togetherness, as well as inclusive playthings that can be enjoyed by kids of varying abilities and interests,” the statement said.

But can these toys and other gifts become dangerous for a child’s health?

Can Too Many Gifts Be Damaging for Your Child?

There are different factors to be aware of when it comes to giving your children gifts during the holidays.

While it is possible that lavishing your child with Christmas gifts can become detrimental, it isn’t likely to “supersede parenting practices that promote resilience,” Dr. David Palmiter, a board certified clinical psychologist, told Newsweek.

Similar to playing video games, spoiling your child is, of course, unhealthy “but not nearly as damning as some might have imagined, especially if other things are going well in the family,” Palmiter explained.

The psychologist said the word “spoiled” can be seen as the opposite of the word “disciplined,” which in America, “appears to have become conflated with butt-kicking—it isn’t,” he said.

The etymology of the word “disciplined” is “to teach” and Palmiter believes that a foundational teaching, “when it comes to the bullseye of the discipline dart board,” is training your children to do things when they don’t feel like it.

“That particular psychological muscle, when well-developed, goes a long way to helping adults to reach their personal and professional goals. At birth, infants are incapable of discipline.

“We hope, as parents, that our child is well capable of it [discipline] by the time they leave home. And, if they are not, they are at high odds to boomerang back home. In this arena, the number of presents a kid receives is unlikely to be a major player,” Palmiter explained.

How Many Christmas Gifts Should Parents Give Their Kids?

The short answer? There is no prescriptive formula and parents cannot be told what’s considered an appropriate amount of Christmas gifts for their own child.

Speaking to Newsweek, David S. DeLugas, the executive director and general counsel of the National Association of Parents (ParentsUSA), said it’s up to the parents to decide “the number of gifts, the extravagance (or lack thereof) of the gifts or the appropriateness of their gifts…so long as the gifts do not cause long-term emotional harm or physical harm.

“We certainly hope parents use their specific knowledge of their child or children to avoid hurting their children by gift giving,” DeLugas said.

Palmiter said: “I don’t believe our science can tell us X number of gifts is adaptive and Y number is problematic,” explaining that “one-on-one time with a parent is much more desirable to most young children than the latest and hottest toy or gadget.”

The magic of the holidays can be captured without spending significant amounts of money, the psychologist said, and advises against stretching your economic resources for presents.

“When parents do this, I’ve found, it’s in service of trying to create a magical experience for their children. But, executed creativity does this much, much better than spent cash,” he said.

A Survival Guide for Parents with ADHD: Strategies from Preschool to High School

A Survival Guide for Parents with ADHD: Strategies from Preschool to High School

For any parent with ADHD, raising children, managing a household, and maintaining emotional health is a Hurclean task. ADHD impacts nearly every facet of parenting, so caregivers with the condition need distinct tools and resources to manage their symptoms and effectively meet their kids’ needs through every developmental phase. Here they are.

Parenting is hard. It’s rewarding, yes. But also difficult, demanding, and draining. When caregivers have ADHD, the challenges of parenting seem to multiply in number and intensity. ADHD symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, and emotional dysregulation inevitably impact the daily rhythms and responsibilities of parenting, not to mention the relationships we forge with our children as they grow.

From diapers to driver licenses, here’s advice for parents with ADHD on simultaneously managing their symptoms while raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children.

How ADHD Impacts Parenting Skills

Parenting requires the daily, dependable execution of non-novel, repetitive tasks, a combination that’s kryptonite for adults with core ADHD deficits including fluctuating attention and poor working memory. More broadly, ADHD impacts these core facets of parenting:

  • Emotional availability: When children are experiencing big feelings or challenging situations, they look for guidance and protection from their parents. But with ADHD and its own emotional dysregulation, it’s tough to be consistently present and focused to support a child’s emotions.
  • Relationship-building: The parent-child bond is the nexus of any healthy family dynamic. But many parents with ADHD struggle to stay engaged and interested while spending time with their child, especially if CandyLand is involved.
  • Planning ahead for problematic situations: Parents are continuously making time and space to reflect on what’s been challenging for their family, and how they can alter plans, procedures, and schedules for future success. But caregivers with ADHD often lack the executive function skills to do this high-level analysis, planning, and execution. Impulse control deficits may also cause parents to lash out and complicate already-challenging situations.
  • Organizing supplies and schedules: Managing family logistics and routines requires unwavering organizational skills, a known difficulty with ADHD.
  • Keeping children safe: Parents need the attentional capacity to monitor their children, whether toddlers or teenagers, without distraction.
  • Shaping positive behavior: Positive reinforcement helps establish good behavior, but it requires parents to “catch” and praise their children quickly and with meaningful details.
  • Staying regulated in challenging situations: Emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, and intense emotions are part of the ADHD experience, which makes “calm” elusive in many ADHD households. Managing stress is also an issue for many parents with ADHD.
  • Setting boundaries and giving consistent consequences.

Parenting with ADHD: Tailored Approaches for Spirited Families

The charts below highlight critical areas in each of the four childhood developmental stages, plus strategies for caregivers with ADHD to employ for each.

ADHD Parenting Skills: Elementary School (Ages 6 to 10)

Forming relationships: Children start to form bonds independently and engage in parallel play. Reflective modeling: Children adopt the social skills they see at home — from their parents and siblings or on the TV. Model appropriate interactions for your child, and be mindful of what they’re watching.
Developing interests and hobbies: Children practice and start to demonstrate skill in certain activities. Create opportunities for practice. Think: How can I give my child whatever materials they need to independently practice?
Complex schedules: More activities require more planning and materials. Externalize information. It’s common for individuals with ADHD to forget verbal instructions. Use whiteboards, sticky notes, digital calendars, and other visual organizing tools to keep track of schedules and to-dos.
Academic responsibility: Homework, tests, projects, and elevated expectations place extra demand on organizational skills. Set up “help times;” To manage frustration and frequent interruptions, establish certain times when your child can check in with you. First, make sure that they have a clear workspace free of distractions. (No screens, all supplies in one place, etc.)
Social life: Play dates and parties are still facilitated by parents, which requires clear communication and planning. Set reminders: Schedule a time every week to verify and prepare for upcoming plans. Create multiple countdown reminders until the day of the event.