Family & friends

How ADHD affects social relationships

Children, teens, and adults living with ADHD may have trouble making and keeping friends. Their symptoms and sometimes “irrational” behaviour are not usually met with understanding, especially in children. It can be hard for people living with ADHD to insert themselves into conversations, because they tend to interrupt and have a hard time following along.

Family and friends of someone living with ADHD may find support groups beneficial. It may even help for them to note when they are having a hard time understanding their loved one’s behaviour, so they can work through it together. In addition, a mental health professional can work with the person living with ADHD, their family or friends, or everyone together.

ADHD and siblings

Siblings of children living with ADHD often feel sad, worried, or nervous, in part because family dynamics tend to be formed around the child with ADHD. Here are some issues that may come up in relationships between siblings:


A child living with ADHD may be envious of the opportunities and successes his or her siblings achieve at school. On the other hand, siblings may be jealous of the child living with ADHD and the additional attention paid to him or her by their parents.


Siblings may resent their brother or sister living with ADHD for being treated differently and for taking up their parents’ time. Similarly, children with ADHD can resent a sibling without ADHD, because that sibling is the “normal one”.

Low self-esteem

The child living with ADHD may have low self-esteem, especially in comparison with his or her brothers or sisters. However, siblings may also have low self-esteem if they experience the stigma attached to the condition and worry about their brother or sister.


Differences that siblings see in the child living with ADHD, whether real or perceived, can cause outbursts of anger that are sometimes very disturbing. The behaviour of children living with ADHD can lead to arguments or sibling rivalry.

Attempts to draw attention

Siblings may see the attention given to the child living with ADHD and want to mimic the child’s behaviour to get time and attention from their parents.