Children with special needs can often be marginalized, even in our local churches. While they might have been included in play dates and parties when they were younger, the invitations often drop off as kids grow older. Parents can empower their tweens to keep their hearts open to these kids.
Mall and movies. A social outing is an easy way to include new friends. Groups of two or three can typically add one more. If a child has special physical needs, consider inviting his or her sibling along, when appropriate, for extra assistance.
Party time. When making invitations to a birthday party, encourage your child to think about those acquaintances, at church and school and in the neighborhood, who are often excluded from parties. Depending on the child's needs, your tween might also serve as a "party coach" by giving gentle social cues throughout the evening.
Planning ahead. Whatever the activity or location, discuss ahead of time what role your child will play in extending hospitality to those with special needs. Talking about the needs of someone with unique challenges helps tweens think through their actions ahead of time.
This article first appeared in the November/December 2010 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2010 by Margot Starbuck. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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