Kids can be powerful allies for their peers with disabilities — which can promote inclusion and help everyone grow. Here are some ways your child can become an awesome ally.
1. Be inclusive
Teach your child to include everyone in play — or at least to make sure everyone's invited. It's as simple as just saying hello!
2. Speak up
Remind your child that if they see someone being treated unfairly or being excluded from the group, they can be the one to say something. They can invite that child to join them or tell others their behavior is wrong.
3. Keep learning
Talk about different disabilities with your child, and keep the conversation going. Understanding and acceptance start with knowledge, after all. Here are some books with disabled main characters that can help.
4. Play without barriers
Remind your child that everybody wants a chance to play. Remind them it's okay to change the rules a little if it means everyone can play!
5. Just ask
Talk about how it's okay to simply ask your disabled friends how you can best support them. Sometimes, they might not want support at all — and that's totally okay! This shows you respect their boundaries.
6. Learn patience
Everyone learns and communicates in their own unique way, and none of those ways are wrong — even if they are different. Sometimes, it might take someone a little longer to do something, and that's okay, too!
7. Use affirming language
Don't speak about disability like it's a negative thing. It's just different!
8. Be a helper, not a hindrance
It's okay to help your disabled friends, but only if they need it. Let them take the lead and tell you what they need. And if they say they can do something by themselves, let them!
9. Don't consider it a "good deed"
Having a disability can be extremely isolating for kids. But forcing your children to play with their disabled peers by saying "it's the nice thing to do" isn't going to make them more inclusive. It teaches them that disability is "less-than", which it isn't.
10. Just normalize disability
The best way to teach your kids how to be more inclusive is to normalize disability and differences of all kinds! Teach your kids that everyone is different and that everyone wants to be included. Teach them how much everyone can bring to the table, and how much fun it is to have friends who are different.