5 Friendship Lessons for My Son

As TJ gets older, and third grade seems to be quite the year of transition from little kid to big kid, he’s coming to me with more and more problems with friends. It’s not like kindergarten anymore, whether everyone liked playing with everyone else. The kids have developed a sense of self now, and they’re beginning to sort out who is like them and who is not. Unfortunately, some kids who TJ had considered friends have now decided that TJ is “weird.” And they’ve told him so. And my heart broke when I said to him, “But I thought you liked being weird,” and he replied, “It’s different when someone calls you weird.”

I think it’s hard for any kid to muddle through the mess of school-age friendships, but kids on the autism spectrum, kids like TJ who have Asperger’s, have an even bigger challenge because they are already at a disadvantage for understanding social situations. So I’m trying to come up with lessons to teach him about friendship that I had to learn the hard way growing up, lessons I still don’t always process properly when applied to my own life. Let me know if you have any other friendship lessons you’ve tried to teach your kids.

Not everyone wants to be friends with you.

This can be hard to accept when you want everyone to like you, but the simple truth is that not all personalities are compatible. And most likely, if they don’t want to be friends with you, you probably wouldn’t really want to be friends with them anyways. Even if you think you do.

People aren’t always nice.

There are some people who like to be mean, who say and do mean things just because they like to make other people feel bad. I don’t know why people have to be mean like this, because I don’t understand it either. I try to be nice to other people as much as possible. There are other people who aren’t really mean people, but they say or do mean things because they think it’s funny. Or because they think their friends want them to be mean. Or because they’re in a bad mood and end up taking it out on other people. Sometimes people say or do mean things and they don’t really mean it. Maybe they don’t realize that they’re hurting your feelings. Maybe something you think was mean isn’t actually mean, but you just misunderstood it. Misunderstandings happen a lot.

You don’t have to be included in everything.

It feels bad being excluded from things, but you can’t be a part of everything. It’s one thing if there are 25 kids in your class, and you’re the only one who doesn’t get invited to a party. But if three or four kids are doing something and don’t want you to join them, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Think of how many times you’ve only really wanted to play with a few of your friends because you had the perfect amount of people for your game. Try not to let it bother you unless it seems like people are trying to make you feel bad about specifically excluding you. Then you can talk to a teacher or another adult and see whether or not there’s anything they can do about it.

People change.

As you get older, you’ll find that you grow out of things you used to like doing, and you’ll find other things that suddenly become interesting. Just think of all those “little kid shows” you don’t like anymore, but you used to watch them every day. Sometimes friends are like that. You often make friends because you share similar interests, and as your interests change, it may not be as fun to hang out with them anymore. It’s sad when a friendship ends, but sometimes it’s just because you’re both different than you were before, and you’ve both found new friends that “fit” better with what you like to do. Just try not to let it turn nasty or be mean to each other about it.

Be the best friend you can be.

There will be many times when you have disagreements with your friends, or people are mean to you, or you feel left out of a group. You don’t want to make other people feel bad the way you feel bad when these things happen, so do your best not to do these things to other people. Be kind. Try to make other people feel included. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Christina Gleason (975 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.

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