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True Friends: Kids of All Abilities Benefit from an Inclusive Circle of Friends

Well-Being

Friendships give your girl the opportunity to practice—and experience—kindness, patience, acceptance, joy, and support. Her friendships help her learn about herself and others, develop confidence and empathy, and teach her to navigate the inevitable challenges that social situations sometimes bring. Through her friendships, your daughter not only gains a sense of belonging, which is a fundamental human need, she also develops social competence. Friendships, in short, are an invaluable part of growth.

Too often, however, children with disabilities are inadvertently excluded from opportunities to form these kinds of enriching, authentic friendships. It can be challenging for kids of all abilities to overcome their shyness, anxiety, or uncertainty when they want to reach out to someone new, especially if that person seems different from them. But encouraging your girl to be open to all kinds of friendships and appreciate difference can help her develop a diverse and vibrant circle of friends full of kids who understand, appreciate, and bring out the best in one another.

Making a new friend takes time and even a little courage, and sustaining a meaningful friendship takes care. When your girl meets a person who has a physical, developmental, or neurological condition, assure her it is okay to acknowledge difference and remind her that a disability is simply a part—but not the whole—of who a person is. Finally, encourage her to be bold enough to start the conversation.

 

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Adapted from American Girl magazine and Friends: Making Them and Keeping Them.
©2018 American Girl. All American Girl marks are trademarks of American Girl.

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