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How to Tell When Someone Is Nice: Answers for Kids With Autism

Medically reviewed by: Catherine Flaherty, PhD and Laura M. Dewey, PhD

When people are nice, it means that they like you. When making a new friend, choose someone who is nice to you.

What Do People Do When They Want to Be Your Friend?

When people are nice, they may look at you and smile. They may use words to let you know that they enjoy being with you, such as "I like playing with you."

People who like spending time with you will say yes when you ask them to do something. If they're busy and say no, they might suggest a better time to do something together (like after school or on another day).

What About When People Don't Want to Be Your Friend?

Just as people give clues when they like being with you, they also give clues when they don't want to spend time with you. Someone who doesn't want to be with you will:

  • turn away from you
  • not look you in the eye
  • not smile at you
  • say no every time you ask him or her to do something together
  • tell you with words that he or she doesn't want to be with you (example: "I don't want to play with you.")

If someone doesn't want to play or be your friend, that's OK. Leave that person alone. Go find someone else to play with who wants to be your friend.

How Can I Tell When Someone's Being Mean?

Sometimes kids are mean. They may:

  • talk when you are talking
  • roll their eyes at you
  • not include you in activities
  • call you names
  • tell you to go away
  • hit or hurt you

People who act this way are called bullies.

Are They Laughing At Me or With Me?

People who bully may laugh when you're around — but it's not because they're being nice. They may be laughing at you, instead of with you. So, how can you tell the difference?

Someone who is laughing with you enjoys being your friend. After you tell a joke, they will laugh or say, "That's funny!" or "That's a good one!"

Someone who is being mean and laughing at you may roll their eyes and laugh or look at someone else and laugh. They may not let you finish talking before they begin laughing.

What Should I Do About It?

If someone is mean to you, leave right away.

If someone is mean to you on social media, in email, or in texts, don't respond. Tell an adult you trust what happened. Someone like your parent, teacher, or coach can help you figure out what to do next. Sometimes just ignoring a person who is being mean can help a lot.

Choose to spend time with people who are nice to you. Don't spend time with people who are mean.

Medically reviewed by: Catherine Flaherty, PhD and Laura M. Dewey, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2018