We can’t all be social butterflies. Some of us, the 🐛social caterpillars🐛 of this world, just need more time and more support to help us make friends.
The first years of high school can be a rollercoaster for any kid. But for our autistic or ADHD kids who are more caterpillar than butterfly, it can be extra intense.
If that’s your child's journey, here are 5 top tips on ways you can practically support them as they seek out and start to build new friendships in high school. 🚀
1. Provide validation and reassurance
The number one thing to remember is not to brush off your pre-teens struggles. Making friends can be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, so let's not go saying 'it'll be fine' or 'you'll just find friends' (because they're not feelin' it!) Instead, validate their feelings - whether it's loneliness, hurt, fear, or the worry of not making friends.
Let them know it's completely okay to ride this emotional rollercoaster. Assure them that they are a great friend, highlighting their awesome qualities and the value they bring to relationships. Just like building a super cool LEGO set, friendships take time and a bit of support. By giving them the thumbs up and being there for them, you'll boost their confidence and resilience as they set off on their friendship adventure. 🎢
2. Explore Friendship Spots Together
High school's like a maze of people, but you can help your child find their tribe.
Encourage your kiddo to chase their interests and hobbies, as it's the secret path to meeting like-minded pals. Maybe they're all about art, music, sports, or something super specific. Get a list of clubs, read it through with them and help them decide on ones to try. Or, brainstorm alternative spots to socialize during breaks and lunch, like cozy corners in the library or volunteering for cool projects where they'll meet like-minded people.
These shared adventures can plant the seeds for fantastic friendships. Keep in mind that quality beats quantity every time, so focus on helping your child find a tight-knit group where they feel like they totally belong. 🌟
3. Help Solve Friendship Puzzles
As your child ventures into high school, it's vital to help them crack the code of friendship formation. One step at a time is the name of the game. Start with learning more about the peeps they meet. Teach them the magic of active listening and how to ask questions to uncover the hidden gems in their new pals.
In today's digital world, friendships often bloom beyond face-to-face. Guide your child to explore fun ways to connect with their new buddies through calls, texts, or apps. This not only supercharges their relationships but also offers a lifeline when they need support.
Little hiccups and clashes are part of the friendship journey. Help them understand how to smooth things over with effective communication, conflict resolution, and a big dose of empathy. Encourage them to express their thoughts calmly and kindly while truly listening to their buddies' perspectives. Remember, it's perfectly fine to have differences, and working through them can actually make their friendships stronger. 🤝
4 Keep the Old Flames Alive
While your child is making new friends at high school, it's also awesome to make sure they don't lose touch with their old buddies from primary school. It's like having the best of both worlds - old friends and new pals. This combo can offer comfort during the wild transition.
You might need to put in some extra parent power here. Set up lunch meetups or outings with their primary school friends to keep those golden connections alive. Or team up with other parents to plan weekend hangouts. These familiar faces are like a security blanket and create a support system where your child can share the highs and lows of making new friends.
Keep reminding your child that they're a rockstar friend and that building new friendships is a journey, not a sprint. Encourage them to bring the confidence from their existing friendships into their interactions with new buddies. Show them their superpowers and how they light up others' lives. 🌟😃
5 Join Forces with the School Squad
High schools often have superhero teachers who look out for students' well-being. Get to know your child's form teacher and keep the communication lines open with them. Share the scoop on your child's friendships, both the wins and the puzzles. This will help the teacher understand your child's needs and provide the right support if social bumps pop up in class.
If you're ever concerned about your child's progress in building friendships, don't hesitate to connect with the special education support team, even if your child doesn't have an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan). Arrange meet-ups with them to talk about your child's friendship hurdles and feelings, like the rollercoaster of loneliness, rejection worries, and social jitters. Some special education teams are friendship experts, and many are fantastic listeners. If you feel heard, encourage your child to have a chat with them too. 💪👩🏫🚀
Navigating the wild world of high school for your autistic or ADHD child might feel like a rollercoaster, but with these tips, you'll be their trusty guide. By helping them spot potential friendship treasure troves, solving the friendship puzzles, and joining forces with school allies, you'll boost their well-being and school spirit. Remember, you're not alone in this adventure; together, you and your child can make high school a thrilling and empowering journey. 🎢👨👩👧👦🌈