Day 26: How do you Teach Your Child to be a Friend?

When it comes to behavior, my daughter is so inconsistent and it puzzles me. 

There is one part of this journey that I struggle to wrap my mind around. 

My daughter does this thing where if she respects someone, she generally listens to them and is kind to them. 

But if not, she will do everything in her power to provoke them and war with them. 

For instance, she will fall in line for her Karate Master but not for the bus aide that calls her a brat. She will behave perfectly for one babysitter and be a terror for another. 

She will brush her teeth after I tell her about cavities and smelly breath.

But it will have to be the tooth brush she chooses and on her terms.

Like most other things she tries to control, we have behavior plans in place for them.

Recently, I have noticed some social concerns with her peers. 

When she was in daycare, she would just ignore or not play with the children she wasn’t interested in. 

I think there would be issues if a child she didn’t want to play with continuously pursued her against her will. 

But now that I have to arrange playtime for her amongst people that I know, I notice some concerning things. 

There are some children that Ally (I assume) feels superior to. 

She will then act that role and try to rule them and direct them, which often leads to quarreling where someone is screaming. Sometimes it is her and sometimes it is another child. 

And it really sucks because it is often the children of people I am friends with. 

For whatever reason, my daughter gets along best with girls who are just as bossy and independent as she is. 

Ally recently made friends with a new neighbor. She has played with this girl a few times for hours on end without fighting. 

They have the same interests and seem to enjoy playing with the same toys. 

She is also one of the first girls she has had to play with outside of school. Maybe that is why she has been so good—because she wants someone else to play dolls and princesses with. 

Last week, she went to this kid’s house and I dropped her off for the first time. 

I had never dropped Ally off at anyone’s house for a playdate before. I was so nervous and spent over twenty minutes of reciting rules to her before she left. 

No bad words. 

What to do if her friend doesn’t want to share a toy. 

How to be polite. 

Use your words when you need something.

Don’t call anyone smelly and weird. 

No potty talk.  

Don’t scream.

When I tell you it is time to come home, no tantrums. 

She was able to perfectly recite it all back to me and spewed off all of the right answers. 

This surprised me because it seems like she can do this but only when she wants to. 

As if this were a therapy lesson and her friend was the reward. 

I was nervous for the entire three hours or so that she was there. 

Nervous she was going to be bad. 

Nervous she would have a meltdown. 

Nervous she might get aggressive. 

And I hoped I wasn’t annoying when I checked in often to make sure she was playing nicely. Because I want her to have a friend so close by. 

A girl friend. 

I was relieved when I found out how perfectly behaved she was. 

So I let her go back again today and as I sit here writing this and trying to fight the urge to text her mother to check in more than once, I hope she is being good. 

We recited the rules again and again before she left. 

Sadly, I had to remind her about all of the kids she no longer plays with so she understands. 

I can’t help but worry that this progress and a new level of “success” is temporary. 

It’s like I always have my guard up and am waiting for her behavior to collapse again. I worry about her making and keeping friends.

Stubbornness and control go hand in hand with autism. While she can hold it together to play with a child she finds fun and engaging, I hope she can learn to hold it together to be nice to other kids as well. 

This is a major step forward for me to see first hand and I just don’t want to take any more steps back. 

Update: She was not so good this time. Her friend told me that Ally pulled her hair and threw her toys. She said the F word and got upset that her little cousin was there. While she was not bad the entire time, I am mortified. Is it always going to be this way? I truly don’t understand why she can’t use her damn words instead of pulling hair and getting physical!

We are having a major issue right now where Ally wants one child’s undivided attention or she gets emotional and destructive. I have zero idea how to even begin to combat that or if we just keep her alone at home forever.

She just does not understand. And I am trying so hard to figure this out.

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