Navigating the Social and Emotional Landscape: Understanding and Addressing the Needs of Children with ADHD

Brian Lux

Director of Camp Sequoia


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) not only impacts a child’s ability to focus but also extends its influence into the social and emotional domains. This article explores the social and emotional needs of children with ADHD, drawing on research to provide insights and recommendations for educators, parents, and caregivers.

I. Understanding the Social Landscape


A. Social Difficulties and Peer Relationships

  • Research indicates that children with ADHD often face challenges in peer relationships (Hoza, 2007).
  • Longitudinal studies, such as the one by Bagwell et al., emphasize the persistence of peer relationship difficulties from childhood to adolescence (Bagwell et al., 2001). This is one reason why Camp Sequoia has weekend trips throughout the school year to help foster these ongoing connections and why many of our campers return to be part of the Camp Sequoia family multiple years. 



  • Hoza, B. (2007). Peer functioning in children with ADHD. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32(6), 655–663.
  • Bagwell, C. L., Molina, B. S., Pelham, W. E., & Hoza, B. (2001). Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Problems in Peer Relations: Predictions From Childhood to Adolescence. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(11), 1285–1292.


B. Social Skills Interventions

  • Social skills interventions, such as those implemented in summer programs, have shown positive outcomes for children with ADHD (Pelham et al., 1997).



  • Pelham, W. E., Greiner, A. R., & Gnagy, E. M. (1997). Children’s summer treatment program manual. Buffalo, NY: Comprehensive Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.


II. Addressing Emotional Needs


A. Emotional Regulation Challenges

  • Emotional dysregulation is recognized as a core component of ADHD (Barkley, 2015).
  • Neuroscientific studies, such as the one by Shaw et al., provide insights into the neural basis of emotion dysregulation in individuals with ADHD (Shaw et al., 2014).



  • Barkley, R. A. (2015). Emotional dysregulation is a core component of ADHD. ADHD Report, 23(3), 8–8.
  • Shaw, P., Stringaris, A., Nigg, J., & Leibenluft, E. (2014). Emotion dysregulation in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 171(3), 276–293.


B. Strategies for Emotional Coaching

  • Emotion coaching, as proposed by Gottman and DeClaire, can be a valuable strategy for parents and educators to support emotional development in children with ADHD (Gottman & DeClaire, 1997). Camp Sequoia maintains a 2:5 staffing ratio with extensive staff training to support this level of emotional coaching. 
  • Daily report cards, as part of behavioral treatments, have shown effectiveness in improving emotional regulation in classroom settings (Fabiano & Fatherley, 2007). Camp Sequoia uses daily and weekly individual and group metrics to empower our campers to become the best versions of themselves. 



  • Gottman, J. M., & DeClaire, J. (1997). Raising an emotionally intelligent child: The heart of parenting. Simon and Schuster.
  • Fabiano, G. A., & Fatherley, J. R. (2007). Behavioral treatment of ADHD in the classroom: The use of daily report cards. School Psychology Review, 36(2), 219–239.


III. Building Self-Esteem and Resilience


A. Academic and Personal Achievements

  • Positive reinforcement of academic and personal achievements is crucial for building self-esteem in children with ADHD (DuPaul & Stoner, 2003). Our nightly evening meetings at Camp Sequoia provide and opportunity for daily peer to peer and staff to peer positive feedback. 
  • Research by Hoza et al. emphasizes the importance of understanding children’s self-perceptions of competence in the context of ADHD (Hoza et al., 2004). Dr. Lew and his team work with our amazing kids to help them match their perceptions with those of their peers and the greater community. This helps them to focus on their victories and not to catastrophize their perceived missteps. 



  1. DuPaul, G. J., & Stoner, G. (2003). ADHD in the schools: Assessment and intervention strategies. Guilford Press.
  2. Hoza, B., Gerdes, A. C., Hinshaw, S. P., Arnold, L. E., Pelham, W. E., Molina, B. S., … & Wigal, T. (2004). Self-perceptions of competence in children with ADHD and comparison children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(3), 382–391.


B. Strengths-Based Approaches

  • Strengths-based assessment approaches, as discussed by Lopez and Criado, can help shift the focus from deficits to strengths in children with ADHD (Lopez & Criado, 2016).
  • Research by Owens and Hoza explores the positive illusory bias, suggesting that a strengths-based approach may contribute to a more positive self-perception in children with ADHD (Owens & Hoza, 2003).



  • Lopez, V., & Criado, M. (2016). Strengths-Based Assessment in Clinical Practice. Springer.
  • Owens, J. S., & Hoza, B. (2003). The role of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity in the positive illusory bias. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(4), 680–691.


V. Conclusion

Understanding and addressing the social and emotional needs of children with ADHD is essential for their overall well-being and success. By incorporating evidence-based strategies, such as social skills interventions, emotion coaching, and strengths-based approaches, educators, parents, and caregivers can create a supportive environment that fosters positive development in children with ADHD. Collaborative efforts between families and Camp Sequoia plays a pivotal role in ensuring a holistic approach to meeting the unique social and emotional needs of these children.

Want to learn more about Camp Sequoia, or looking for more resources? Check out the links below!