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How Can I Help My Child Make Friends?

Updated: Jul 17, 2020


Help Them Understand What a Friend Is

Sounds basic, right? But starting with the basics is critical for developing social skills. We have seen children who think of bullies as friends, for example, so this distinction matters.

Use simple language. For example, ask, “Do you like to spend time with somebody who calls you names?” And “Do you like to spend time with someone who is nice to you?”

Be literal, because your child will be, too. Avoid saying abstract things like, “Friends are people who care for the real you and accept you for who you are.” Instead, say, “Friends treat you nicely, ask you what you like or want to do, and say things to make you feel better when you are having

a tough time.”


Offer Real World Practice

Parents often fear the public setting. Perhaps you’ve experienced one too many meltdowns. That is understandable, but getting your child out into social settings is crucial for practicing social skills.

You can minimize behavior risks by involving your child in planning. If you’re planning a trip to the zoo with the family, have your child help pick snacks to take and develop a schedule, for example.

The idea applies to planning a hang-out session with a friend, too. Have your child think about activities he or she wants to do and this new friend may want to do. Then plan a schedule together that incorporates both. Doing this teaches the social compromise involved in all friendships.


Build Off Your Child's Interests

Have you ever made a friend based on a common interest: music, sports or a hobby? That works for children with autism, as well.

If your child really loves chess, find a chess club. If your child loves art, sign up for an art class. These offer built-in interests and conversation points — and a fun setting for social interaction.

"When you cut it for me, write it for me, find it for me, open it for me, tie it for me... All I learn is that you do it better than me. "

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