Difficulty Making Friends

I recently attended another thought-provoking, entertaining and compassionate workshop by Rick Lavoie. I used his teaching ideas often in my book. This workshop was based on his new book, It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend. Lavoie addresses with complete compassion the difficulties children with all types of learning problems from Aspergers to dyslexia have making friends and understanding the basic fundamentals of social interaction. He understands intensely that these children long for friends and acceptance but instead they often cause exasperation and alienation, because they do not get the fundamental rules of social success. For many children this can snow ball into being so desperate to make friends, they unwittingly drive away those who would make the attempt. Lavoie maintains and I would agree that learning social interaction skills is much more important than learning the mechanics of reading, writing and math. “These children are socially out of step with their classmates and peers, and often they are ridiculed or ostracized for their differences. A successful social life is immeasurably important to a child’s happiness, health and development.” It affects their self esteem and impacts their success in school.

This is something that can be addressed in our churches, even for one hour on Sunday morning. We can create a safe space for the child to learn and experiment with the art of making friends. In his book, Lavoie provides step-by-step instructions for helping children with learning disabilities go through almost any social situation, including choosing a friend, going on a play date, conducting a conversation, reading body language, overcoming shyness and low self-esteem, keeping track of belongings, living with siblings, and adjusting to new settings and situations. While this book may feel either too specific or too comprehensive for your use, I feel the information and ideas are important for our ministry to all children. I know it is unrealistic to adopt and entire program of teaching social skills, however it will provide much fodder for thinking outside of the box.

Categories Tips for Inclusion for Churches | Tags: | Posted on April 20, 2008

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