• Other Friendship Advice

My daughter is being excluded by her friends

Published: November 15, 2014 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
A mom worries that her 13-year-old is being left out and excluded from social get-togethers with her soccer team.



My 13-year-old daughter plays club soccer and her team practices three times a week, and has games and tournaments around ten months out of the year. Obviously the girls spend a lot of time together.

It is a large team and while they are all friendly to each other, there are two separate groups. Within the last six weeks, the group my daughter thought were her friends have started leaving her out. They will talk in front of her about plans they have and, of course, it is posted all over social media. She is the only one in her group not be included.
They are nice to her at practice, but do not ask her to join in for non-soccer related things. She didn’t have a fight with one of them or a conflict, so she can’t figure out why they have stopped including her.

She is lucky to have a nice group of school friends as well as neighborhood friends, but it is still very hurtful to her. We carpool with one of them and I know all the girls’ parents well. We have an upcoming tournament and with the way things are going, I am not sure how they will be act towards her.

I have advised her to seek out other girls on the team, but she seems unwilling to give up this group. I am not sure how to help her, but I see this starting to affect her playing on the field as well as her confidence in general. Any advice would be great.

A concerned mom


Dear Concerned Mom,

Watching your daughter being left out and excluded must be very difficult. You probably want to jump in and change things.

You can help build her confidence by reinforcing her school and neighborhood friends. When she talks about her friends say things like “That’s why Jennifer likes to hang out with you” or “See how thoughtful you were when Rachel’s gerbil died? You’re a good friend,” By showing her concrete examples like this, you give her evidence that she has positive friendship qualities that people like.

If she has one friend from the group with whom she feels most comfortable, she might ask that teammate if there’s a reason she’s no longer included. Be sure, if chooses this route, that she’s prepared for an honest answer that might feel unwanted and/or hurtful. She might not get an answer or an honest one either, because most 13-year-olds have rudimentary communication and conflict resolution skills.

Also, this is a good opportunity to talk about how she deserves to be treated by her peers (and whomever she eventually starts dating). Reinforce that she should treat others respectfully and to expect that from her friends. Ask lots of questions to see where her mind is at. For example, “What would you do if a friend started treating you badly?” “Would you still want to be friends?”  That way you can gauge if she blames herself when others are unkind or exclusionary and coach her accordingly. You can allow her to control the conversation while gently steering her toward healthier thinking, if need be.

Lastly, you might want to speak to the soccer coach discreetly and ask if he/she has any ideas about how your daughter is getting along with others and performing on the team.

Teen allegiances change quickly so I hope the situation changes soon and your daughter doesn’t feel discouraged about her participation on the team. Whatever happens, this is a teachable moment, too bad it’s such a painful one.

Signed, *Amy Feld

*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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Category: Child and adolescent friendships, Helping children deal with friendship problems

Comments (7)

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  1. Mrs. Chen says:

    Hi concerned mom,
    Take Lauren and Lily’s advice — DO NOT have your daughter ask any of these girls why they don’t seem to like her anymore. That is an invitation for them to double up on bullying her. The girl your daughter confides in will share your daughter’s insecurities with the rest of the gang. They will all bond over their power (now proven) over your daughter. I have 11-yo and a 14-yo girls and I have seen this happen many many times.

    13-yo girls don’t need a reason to gang up on someone. They just need someone to follow. The ringleader is usually someone who is more mature and power hungry. She watches a lot of teen movies and mistakes “mean girls” for “popular girls”.

    There are any number of qualities that can contribute to your daughter looking “vulnerable” to the ringleader:
    – Is your daughter less interested in fashion and boys than these girls?
    – Does your daughter still play with “kid toys” like dolls, play kitchen?
    – Is your daughter friendly to everyone, even to the kids who are clearly considered “losers”?
    – Does your daughter care about your opinion and doesn’t try to hide it?
    – Does your daughter have a somewhat unusual hobby or interest in a particular book or character or old TV series?
    – etc. etc.
    As you can see, many of these qualities are actually lovely qualities that you should be encouraging her to keep rather than lose, just to fit in with a group of clueless 13-yo’s.

    The only way to combat this situation is for your daughter to walk away. Like someone else mentioned — treat them as “teammates”, not “friends”. She thinks these girls are “cool” with their mean and manipulative ways. You need to help her see these girls as who they really are — clueless teen girls who misunderstood what it means to be “popular”.

  2. Lauren says:

    Hi, I just wanted to add that there is a very good book entitled Who’s Pulling Your Strings? by Harriet Braiker, PhD. There is a chapter about teen girls, cliques and mean girls. It’s not exactly like your daughter’s situation, but it’s similar. It’s in Chapter 2, Act 4. I thought that it might be helpful for you regarding your daughter’s situation. Just a suggestion. I hope that it helps a little.

  3. Lily says:

    Hi Mom, I don’t believe they don’t like her. Maybe they do things that your daughter wouldn’t, which is good. Maybe she seems like a home body and the girls exclude her from their outings for that reason. Your daughter sounds like she has a friendly personality, and from what you mention she has her friends from the neighborhood. I agree with Lauren, girls can be clicky and mean, which is attributed to jealousy. Don’t have your daughter approach them. It’ll only open up a can of worms. They will gossip about her, and will probably tease her in a way. Tell her to keep it to a minimum, continue to be the way she is, and to keep her other friends. She’ll be alright. Just the fact that she has you and talks to you shows a lot.

  4. lottie says:

    Hi concerned mum,

    Both Amy and Lauren give interesting and helpful advice which I agree with.
    Something I would like to add is the maturity of some 13 year old girls.I clearly remember being that age believe or not!I was well mature maybe to do with being sexually abused(another story)from a young age.
    You can get a 13yr old who is that age but some act years+++ older. Is your daughter still a 13 yr old or a 25yr old? If the group doing the excluding are over mature they wont include your daughter and being very honest you should count yourself and your daughter lucky,don’t go there.They wont even think it is mean they are too busy being TOO grown up.I doubt jealousy comes into it.
    We read in the media about youngsters well advanced these days,do you get my jist? Well years ago it was going on long before it made headlines.I am being very honest so please do not be offended and I sincerely hope nobody else is with what I write.I am not saying the group of girls are sexually abused just could be TOO GROWN UP FOR THEIR
    OWN GOOD. This is written in the kindest way possible. Take care Lottie

    • Amanda says:

      This grown up business starts much sooner than 13 years old. My daughter is in first grade and I remember her being left out of little cliques when I went on field trips with her in kindergarten. The girls were gossiping about other kids and bragging over shopping and name brands….on the other hand my daughter knows about none of this and is in a completely different world than them. This year while she is in 1st grade she came home and told me that some of the girls are so sneaky and they always tattle tale on her for EVERYTHING and one of them even brings makeup to school at 6 years old. To cut a long story short she is being picked on under the teachers nose but when she dares to take up for herself she is louder than the rest and not on the same preteen mindset as these other 1st graders…yes I said preteen mindset even though they are only 6.

  5. Lauren says:

    Hi Concerned Mom,

    I am so sorry to hear that your 13 year old is going thru this”exclusion” treatment. It is wonderful,though, that you are such a caring mom. Your daughter is fortunate in this respect.

    I really like Amy’s response. It is all excellent advice. I just want to say that these girls are not your daughter’s friends, but instead they are well and truly just team mates, and mean girls at that.

    Now your daughter will learn the valuable art of diplomacy, which will actually serve her well all of her life. As these girls are team mates, your daughter would be well advised to think of them as only that, and be friendly, but not invested or even interested in their friendship. This way she can enjoy the team sport, but not be put off by their lack of friendliness towards her.

    Again, these girls are not your daughter’s friends, but your daughter will emerge as the better one by taking the high road of diplomacy while being a good team player. A good team player with those girls, and a friend with other girls outside of the team who are not “mean girls”. This way she can use her precious time to find and develop other more suitable friendships with ppl who have better characters and more compassionate hearts.

    From my experience, I don’t believe that asking one (or more) of them why they exclude or why they appear not to like her, her would ever do any good, but in fact, it may do more harm than good. Mean girls are like that , and it’s often quite random or based on some form of jealousy or envy. Usually one dominant personality starts it and the followers go along with the dominant one; thus forming that horrible grouping we have come to know as “mean girls”.

    This way , she can stay with the team, enjoy the sport and have a good social life outside of the team and those girls. Your daughter will also learn from this experience how NOT to treat others.

    I moved quite a lot when I was in grade school and high school, and I encountered my fair share of mean girls. Here is a mild example: At one school one of the girls from a clique, walked past me and said “You think you’re smart, don’t you? Well, we don’t like you.” (I got high marks in school). Sometimes, mean girls are just not worth figuring out regarding their motivation.

    I wish your daughter all the strength ( and diplomacy) in the world. She will emerge as the better, stronger person all round.
    Best wishes,

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