We often hear people with PWS described as being the “mayor” of his or her community because the ability to make acquaintances comes quite naturally. Parents of PWS children often describe their kids as someone that everyone in the town knows and likes; but the challenge comes when it is time to move from acquaintances to being and having a true friend. The ability to have meaningful relationships is essential for anyone to have an abundant, quality life, including those with PWS.
There are a number of things that you can do (and not do) to help your child along in obtaining meaningful and fulfilling relationships:
1. Play fair. It is tempting to let your child win at games because he or she has so many challenges. Why not let them have some success when you have control over it? While it is true that success breeds confidence, always winning also makes for a child with unrealistic expectations.
2. Hold your child accountable. Poor behavior is poor behavior, regardless of the diagnosis. After a behavioral incident, give your child some time to calm down and regroup and then go over the incident. If you allow your child to say or believe that any acts of violence, tantrums, or verbal outbursts are because of PWS, you are doing a disservice to your child. Children will often meet the expectations put on them and a child with a developmental disability is no different in that regard. There will likely be slips along the road, but continue to make your expectations clear.
3. Practice saying nice things about people. Get your child in the habit of complimenting others, especially peers.
4. Focus on the positive. Finding one good thing about someone you don’t like teaches children that people are not all bad. There may be something about a person that they don’t like but asking them to talk about something good about a person that they don’t get along with is an important life lesson.
5. Mistakes are okay and human. Never give up.
6. Allow for risk taking. We grow and learn as a result of our successes and our failures.
7. Keep trying.
8. Have fun!
9. Avoid blaming other people in front of your child. You may have legitimate issues with
teachers, other parents or providers but being critical of them in front of your child teaches them that it is okay to be disrespectful.
10. Embrace every success and learn from every failure.
Manager of PWS Services