Does your child face challenges making friends?

Having friends contributes to children’s social-emotional development, helps to build self-confidence, and assists in developing physical and communication skills.

For children with a disability or development delay, challenges engaging with play, or physical challenges, can sometimes get in the way of making friends.

Our Occupational Therapists work with families and early childhood educators, supporting them to put in place the foundations that can support children to develop the skills they need to make friends.

Here we provide top tips for supporting children to make friends.

  • Children make friends through play. Your child may need to learn how to engage with play before trying to play with others. Follow your child’s lead and interests to support simple, individual play and add more cooperative play step by step over time.
  • Use short and simple instructions, breaking down the rules of cooperative play into simple steps. For example, “First we catch the ball, and then we run.”
  • Use social stories and visuals to help your child understand what to expect from play activities. Resources are available online to buy, just search for “social stories play." 
  • Give your child some conversation starters for them to use. For example “I like playing dress ups too” to help them join other children in games.
  • Help your child to name and talk about their emotions.
  • Try modelling taking turns. For example “now it is your turn to throw the ball."


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