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Navigating the Playground with ADHD

It's 1pm. The bell rings. It's time for lunch. I’m not hungry. The medication reduces my appetite. I don't like school meals anyway, so I decide to see what's going on in the playground.

I take a sip from the water fountain, then join some classmates playing football. They say I can only play if I go in goal. I don't like playing in goal, so I leave the pitch and walk further along the playground. A group of girls are playing hand tennis. I ask if I can join in. One of the players tells me that it’s too late because they've just started a new round. I feel a sense of rejection. The people I thought were my friends don't care about me. My negative emotions start to swell as I walk back in the direction I came. I give up on the playground and go inside the school building. I make my way upstairs towards the library. Maybe some friends are hanging out there? I see Natasha, Alex and Nathan sitting round a table together doing some work. It looks boring. I ask them what they're up to. They tell me to go away. I walk down the corridor and see two pupils playing cards in an empty classroom. I'm not so friendly with them, so I continue along the corridor. I decide to make my way to the music room to see what's going on. A kid runs into me. He's being chased by another pupil. They look like they're having fun. I wish I had a friend to chase me around the school. I try to open the door to the music room, but it's locked. Mrs Jackson tells me that there's choir practice and to come back tomorrow. The boredom in my head intensifies. I don't know where to go next. I look at my watch and see there's 15 minutes left of lunch. I walk downstairs, back to the lunch hall. I hear shouting. Three Y11s are having a food fight. I keep my distance and watch and laugh with some of the other pupils in the crowd. After a few minutes it gets out of hand. A senior member of staff ushers everyone out of the lunch hall. There’s five minutes left of break. I collect my bag from the bag rack and walk slowly towards my form room. My thoughts are going round in my head. I tell myself I don't have any friends. It's a painful realisation. There's obviously something wrong with me. It's probably my fault. There's a reason why no one wants to hang out with me. I'm a weirdo.

Should I tell my parents? No! It's too embarrassing. They wouldn't understand anyway. Hopefully things will get better tomorrow …”


The playground can be a brutal place for any child. ADHD doesn’t just affect students in the classroom, nor does it mean that they’re always getting into fights. For many children with ADHD, the biggest struggle is the negative perception they get from their peers.

If your child has ADHD, it’s likely they’ll be focusing on many negative thoughts throughout the day. It’s the small moments in the playground that can make all the difference. The negativity remains with the child throughout the school day and will likely find a release later in the evening.

If your child is stressed or angry at the end of the school day, it could be the result of loneliness, rejection, boredom or bullying. If the child suffers in silence, these feelings will likely develop into harmful negative perceptions over time. It’s so important for children with ADHD to have a support system to get them through the challenges of childhood. If you suspect your child is having a hard time, a mentor or coach who understands your child’s ADHD can make a huge difference to their life.

- Ben Isaacson (ADHD Coach)

If you are looking for support for your child with ADHD, please get in touch with us to find out about our brand new ADHD Coaching Programme for Kids.

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Verity Johnson
Verity Johnson

Welcome Ben! Such a powerful and painful piece to read. I have a 12 year old boy with ADHD and ASD with so many amazing qualities and yet mainstream school resulted in him going to A & E. It's heartbreaking. He is now being home-schooled and thriving both emotionally and with his work. But every day is a worry to me as his mum; am I doing enough for him? Thank you for sharing.

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