Children with special needs should be offered opportunities to create friendships. Some children will make friends very easily while others may need a little help from adults. Here are a couple of ideas on how to create peer interactions for children with special needs.
- Encourage and arrange play dates
- Organize the area in which the children will play
- Have more than one of the same toy so children can play with the same toy, imitating and mimicking each other
- Join in and play to keep interactions going
- Never force friendships between children of any age or ability
“Friendship among typically developing children and children with special needs is not only possible but beneficial. With support and encouragement from adults, young children with and without disabilities can form connections that not only provide enjoyment but help promote their growth and development in multiple domains”. (eXtension.edu, 2011)
We would love to know your ideas on how to encourage friendships for children with special needs.
For more information on friendships and children with special needs: Peer Support for Children with Special Needs
BFF – do you have one? I see kids of all ages using this notation. And at the time they really are sure it’s true. I had a best friend all through my grade school years. Then in high school we quickly drifted apart and I found new groups of friends. Some stayed with me through college. Three are still a part of my life. As an adult I’ve accumulated many more friends. Some I consider BFFs.
The point is – friends move in and out of our lives. Sometimes as parents we get upset over the friends our children choose. But unless something dangerous is going on, trust your child’s choice in friends. Your son or daughter will pick friends who have shared interests – for example sports or music. Maybe they will be in a club together. Then as interests change, the friends may change too.
As a parent it’s hard to watch this friendship dance. But if you are patient, most of the time the kids will handle things on their own. They learn the “give and take” of friendship and how to work out problems.
One thing you can do is encourage a wide network of friends and provide opportunities for kids to be together. Then stand back and watch the magic of BFFs unfold.
Does anyone want to share a friendship story?
As I read the information on friendships I thought about writing about children – because that’s what the blog is about right? But the last part of the podcast really struck me. Where do children learn about friendships? From the adults role-modeling around them. My children are learning about friends from me and I learned from my parents.
So I spent that last several days listening and watching what my children see me say and do around and with my friends. Then I spent some time watching my children with their friends. Yep, sure enough it looked similar.
I want to repeat the 3 bullets from the podcast –
- provide emotional support
- teach acceptable behavior
- teach important attitudes
So I sit here pondering are there things I want my children to learn about friends from their friends? Are their things I want my children to learn about friends from me? Yes and YES. And I want the strongest most important lessons to come from me! So it will be up to me to model about friends to them. Hmmmm Why do these blogs always turn into something I need to do? 🙂
Share your thoughts with me on how you have modeled about friendships to your children.
Parents want their children to have friends, but childhood friendships can be puzzling. One day a child is part of the “in group” and the next day he or she is on the outside. What’s a parent to do?
The good news is that parents can help children develop the skills they need to make and keep friends. Join us this month as we navigate through the world of children’s friendships.
Listen to a brief podcast on Children and Friendship:
Podcast: Play in new window | Download