Building Lasting Friendships

Everyone needs friends.  However, making friends isn’t always easy and for our children it can be even harder.  Sometimes our children have behavioral problems that cause other children to shy away.  Sometimes there are communication problems, either with the lack of communication or with speech that is difficult to understand.  As parents, we often have to step in and help our children learn the social skills to develop and keep friends. 

A couple years ago, I attended a seminar on helping our kids make lasting friendships.  The speaker shared several activities she had done with her own son to help these friendships grow.  As my daughter begins her school years, I have tried many of these suggestions and will try many others in the years to come.  The information was invaluable and I will be sharing many ideas over the next several weeks. 

The following suggestions are a great way to get started: 

Volunteering:  If you have other children, you have probably been regaled with many stories of their school day and who they played with.  But, if your child is like mine, that communication is not there.  For that reason, it is more important than ever to get involved volunteering at your child’s school.  If possible, try to volunteer in the classroom.  This way you have direct contact with the other children and can see which children are more likely to be a friend to your child.  If you can’t be in the classroom, it is still beneficial to be in the school and see your child in his/her school environment and get to know the staff at the school.  Sometimes observing from afar can be just as helpful as up close observation.

Parent Communication:  Send a letter to your child’s classmates’ parents introducing yourself and your child.  Share some information about your child and try to answer a few of those common questions kids might have, like “why doesn’t she talk”.  Depending on the age, you don’t want to get too technical.  Keep it simple.  This also gives the parents your contact information in case they have questions or concerns. 

Presentation:  Go to the school and give a 15-20 minute presentation about your child’s likes, dislikes and challenges.  This allows the other children to realize  that they are more alike than different.  It also allows the children to ask questions and helped them understand why your child may have done some of the things s/he did.  Again, keep it age appropriate and you may want to have your child out of the room for the Q&A section.

Next week I will continue this discussion of friendship and social acceptance for our children and give some additional ideas.

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