At a glance
Some kids with ADHD have very strong social skills.
Their impulsivity can be a positive — if they can control it.
These kids may be more willing to take positive risks and can be very fun to be around.
Many kids with ADHD (also known as ADD) have trouble with social skills and self-control. That can create challenges in their social life. The impulsivity and lack of inhibition that come with ADHD might cause them to interrupt people, blurt things out, and speak and act without thinking it through first. That behavior often turns off their peers.
Not all kids with ADHD have trouble with friendships and socializing, however. Some have strong social skills. They may be “the life of the party” — very popular with their peers, leaders in their friend group, and a lot of fun to be around. These kids typically have winning personalities. But their social success may have something to do with their ADHD, as well.
Learn how impulsivity can sometimes turn into a social plus for kids with ADHD.
How impulsivity can lead to openness
Impulsivity and a lack of inhibition go hand in hand in kids with ADHD. While these symptoms of ADHD often cause problems, they can sometimes be a plus for kids who also have strong social skills.
These kids may be more willing to share their ideas and their true personalities. They’re often less self-conscious than other kids. That willingness to reveal themselves allows them to be more open and genuine with other people.
Lack of inhibition can make them feel freer to express themselves. If they have a unique way of looking at the world, they might reveal that instead of holding back. Their perspective might be funny, quirky, or provocative. And if they’re good with social interaction, that can make them especially interesting to be around.
The upside of risk-taking
Impulsivity and lack of self-control can lead many kids with ADHD to engage in risky behavior. But for some, it may also lead them to take positive risks.
Their lack of inhibition may make them less likely to second-guess themselves and more willing to try new things, even if it means failing. This type of child with ADHD might sign up for a junior decathlon and start training without having done any long-distance running. Or write a play and recruit other kids to perform it.
This willingness to put themselves out there can make these kids extra fun to be around. They often push the envelope — in a good way — and energize the group with their enthusiasm.
What to watch out for: Taking it too far
While these traits can have an upside for some kids with ADHD, it doesn’t take much for them to turn into negatives. If kids aren’t able to keep tabs on the social cues around them or maintain self-control, they risk overdoing it and becoming annoying to other kids.
They may say something inappropriate, tell a stupid joke or do something showoff-y. Unchecked, their impulsive behavior can turn off other kids. They can become the class clown. And that can be hard to recover from.
Kids with ADHD may be more open to sharing a unique way of thinking.
Lack of inhibition can make them feel freer to express themselves and push the envelope — in a good way.
Kids who overdo it may need help with building self-control and understanding social cues.
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About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD is an ADHD/ASD expert and a best-selling author.