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Worried Mom: My daughter doesn’t have a close friend

November 15, 2010 | By | 13 Replies Continue Reading

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

My 7-year-old daughter, soon to be 8, seems to be having some problems, and I am not sure how concerned I should be. I have two daughters; the younger one is 6. Even while writing this I am thinking, they are babies, but I do have concerns about my older daughter.

She doesn’t seem to have any close friends. She is in second grade, and no one ever invites her over, and there is no one she has invited over. When we go out in the community, kids know her, and say hi to her. She has labeled herself as a tomboy and seems intent on following that stereotype. Please believe this is nothing that we have put on her. I think that she is only trying to distance herself from her sister.

My 6-year-old is a social butterfly. The phone rings a lot for her, and she has been invited to several, small group sleepovers and parties. My older daughter only gets invited if the entire class is invited. She has never had a sleepover. She has latched on to my younger daughter and her friends.

She seems completely unaware of society’s rules, or does not care at all. I believe it is already affecting how the girls in her grade see her. I don’t want her to be something she is not, but I don’t want her to ostracize herself at such a young age. She is smart, creative, artistic, and sensitive, while my younger daughter is more “la, la, la.”

Please advise on how I can help her, with out making her feel like something is wrong with her. Should I take her to counseling?

Signed, Fran

ANSWER

Dear Fran,

Like adults, children differ in their interests and friendship styles. Some kids are people magnets; others prefer more alone time or time with siblings. All children, even siblings, differ from one another in the rates at which they mature.

If your daughter is happy and seems to be doing well in school, I’m not sure that anything is “broken” simply because she is a tomboy or because she likes playing with your younger daughter and her friends. Although she is chronologically older, since she is less outgoing by nature, she is probably picking up social skills from her younger sister (the social butterfly) that will serve her well.

Whenever a parent is worried about a child, it is prudent to talk to someone objective who has more experience with children that age than you do. In this case, I would ask for a meeting with your daughter’s teacher and see if she can allay your anxieties. I’m sure if she thinks something is wrong, she will let you know.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene


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Category: Child and adolescent friendships

Comments (13)

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  1. Irene says:

    Hi,

    I wanted to let you know that I posted a response to your post on my blog today: http://www.thefriendshipblog.com/blog/mom-concerned-about-toddler-who-aggressive-playmates

    Hope it is helpful.

    Warm regards, Irene

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m the mother of an almost-3-year-old boy. He’s an absolute delight when with mum and dad and other adults, but he’s very aggressive with other children. When he meets another child, in the street, or in a play situation, he pulls a horrid face and makes growling sounds, he also pushes children (bigger and smaller) and doesn’t seem to have developed the appropriate social skills to get on with his peers. He attended a childminder for a few months and although he enjoyed himself there, there was an older boy who displayed this kind of behaviour to my son (I witnessed this on several occasions). Do you think he’s learned this behaviour from the other child? and if he has, will he stop? I’m not looking for excuses, or wanting to point at another child and say it’s their fault, I’m just very concerned that he’s not going to make friends if he doesn’t develop good social skills. It’s difficult to know how to react in the situations where he is aggressive – please can you help?

  3. Irene says:

    Twelve-year-old girls can be vicious. One approach may be to speak to the guidance counselor in your daughter’s school to see if she has any sense of what’s going on. She probably knows your daughter and the rest of the cast of characters.

    Is the problem limited to school friends? Does she participate in other activities with girls her age outside of school?

    Best,

    Irene

     

  4. sepulveda says:

    Suzy, if she’s crying about this all the time, get her therapy. There are clinics with sliding scales.

    At her age, she really needs to find out why her intentions are failing, and why she’s not making the connections she wants to make. Does she have friends at all? Or no friends? Has she been tested for why she misses social cues? How much importance is placed in your home for having a best friend? Is it talked about a lot? Does your family go out places, and if so, does she invite other girls to come along? The girls don’t have to be best friends for that to happen.

  5. sepulveda says:

    Anonymous with the daughter in the Brownie troop–seriously try out at least three other girl scout/brownie troops in your area, if you can. I don’t know where you live, but the tone and behavior of different troops varies widely. There might be another troop with more open leaders and girls. Another alternative is 4H. Yes! There are 4H chapters all over the place. You don’t have to live in a farm area to have one nearby, and the type of children who sign up might be different in attitude to what you’d find in Girl Scouts. Try and do more investigating for your daughter.

    My daughter was in Girl Scouts for years, and even so, she’s really only kept in touch with one girl from that troop over the years.

  6. suzy says:

    I have a 12 year old daughter that i’m very worried about. She has tried for years to have a best friend and she always get’s hurt. She’s a good girl, makes good grades but theres something about her the other girls don’t like. I’ve seen her cry over this so many times. It breaks my heart. Very worried mom.

  7. Irene says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and experience with another poster! What a great group of readers I have!!

    Best, Irene

     

  8. Irene says:

    This school year is almost over—you and your daughter may have simply run into a cliquish group that has been together for a long time. I’m hopeful that things will change dramatically for the better next year.

    One idea: Why don’t you speak to your daughter’s teacher so that her new class placement maximizes opportunities for her to meet new friends?

    Also, is there some summer activity where your daughter might make friends in a small group? Perhaps a swimming class or sport?

    My best, Irene

     

  9. Anonymous says:

    I too and very concerned about my daughter. She is 8 yrs old and in 2nd grade. We moved here about a year ago and We live about a half hour from school and it seemslike she never is asked over for playdates from people at school. She is in a brownie troop but I feel that some of the moms are very clicky and kids are clicky. I have a son who is aq year younger and is constantly asked out on playdates. He has 3 this week during our spring break. My daughter does have friends in the neighborhood but just doesnt have that close buddy at school. I feel so bad for her. She doesnt seem to mind or notice to much but has made some comments about it. I worry that since some of the moms in her class have developed relationships since they have been in school for a while now and do not let outsiders in. Most of the people I speak to are in my sons grade & class. I try to be as involved as I can with kids but it just seems this class my daughter is in is tough. I dont know what to do. It makes me so sad for her because she is such a good kids and probably yhe most thoughtful person I have ever met… Any advice???

  10. Julie says:

    School is very limiting when it comes to friending. I agree with the other poster to try and get your daughter involved in activities she might enjoy, that involve other children. It can be girl scouts (but the right troop is *important*), but do it soon, as troops can be cliquish, depending on how it’s run and the girls involved.

    Try signing her up for art classes, or take her to the library for story hour with other kids. If there’s a park & rec dept in your down, they might offer classes for children her age. Get her involved in martial art lessons (for little kids).

    But seriously, I was one of those kids my teachers always said “Marched to her own drummer”. I never “got” social cues, had no self-confidence, and still don’t “get” other people. I was also lectured by my mother about how I had “no friends”. I did, I just wasn’t like my mother and had to have alone time. Please don’t harp on the subject with your daughter. Just be proactive and TALK to her, if possible, about what she likes to do. Also, you might have to tell her outright that a friend also makes calls instead of waiting for others to call her. That to have a friend, you have to be a friend, which means reaching out sometimes.

  11. Irene says:

    Thanks for chimining in with your thoughts/experience. That’s sad about your sister because depression is very treatable. It has to be very frustrating that she is so resistant to treatment.

    Best,

    Irene 

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been in your shoes before & my suggestion is to
    put the older daughter into a group of some type.
    Girlscouts, soccer, whatever & make it a point to try and
    get to know the other moms. This will at least have her
    around her peers outside of a school setting and if it
    doesn’t work out try a different group.

  13. Laura says:

    As long as this behavior doesn’t persist in making her NOT want to have new relationships, I agree there’ s nothing pathological here. But here’s my case as an example:

    I’m the younger, more outgoing, talkative sister, even though I had trouble feeling part of a group in school; I made it through. My middle sister is sandwiched between a loquacious older and younger sister; she has always been withdrawn and depression prone, socially anxious.

    In my case, I regret my parents not taking my sister to counseling early in life since she hasn’t developed the self-help skills to face new situations and seems to have exceptional trouble adjusting to life’s ups and downs. She refuses to go to counseling or take medication when she gets a depressive episode. She resents me giving her advise but then tells me that she needs to be pushed to do something. It’s always contradictory and she’s very petty – which she actually admits to – strange, I know. So I do encourage the parent here to take the time to allay fears and get a second opinion so to speak.

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