• Other Friendship Advice

No friends at a new school

Published: December 23, 2014 | Last Updated: December 23, 2014 By | Reply Continue Reading
A mom worries about her 13-year-old having no friends at a new school.


My 13-year-old daughter moved to her catchment school yesterday, as I can’t take her to school anymore and pick her up. She was happy to move to the new school as she socializes with he junior school friends who mostly attend there.

Thee admissions tutor asked her for a list of friends she knew. However, she called me in tears yesterday as she has been put in a class with not one single friend. In fact, one of the girls in there is a Jekyll and Hyde character she knows from he primary school; she is not a nice person and the friendship isn’t one I would encourage. My daughter left a school where she was popular to one where she has no friends.

Any advice?

Signed, Sheelah


I hope your daughter has been adjusting since you’ve written this letter. Leaving a comfortable school for a new one is often stressful, even if the move is a positive one. Many people find change anxiety inducing, especially if the change fails to meet expectations.

Given that 13-year-olds are often emotional, I’m not surprised she had such a negative reaction. I’ll bet she anticipated her new school feeling just like her old one, including her comfort level. She had hoped to have classes with one or more of her friends, but that hasn’t happened, so she has had an additional disappointment. She might even feel left out since her friends at her old school are doing things without her.

If she hasn’t already, she will encounter mean and untrustworthy people in class, and she probably has in her prior school. Undesirable and unfriendly kids exist in every school. The difference before now and then was that she had her friends around her. If the girl gives her problems you can ask her how she handled similar situations in the past.

Since she was popular at her old school, she has all the skills she needs to be popular at her new one, and she already has friends in other classes. If she hasn’t asked yet, her established friends can be used as liaisons. Her friends can tell her who would be good choices to approach. Then she can say, “Do you know Ann Smith? We’re friends. She told me you were fun to hang out with.” or something similar.

She can also join sports or other extracurricular activities where she’ll meet others who share her interests.

Remind your daughter that she has friends in her old school and friends in her new school. She can still see her friends after school and on weekends. She will make new friends too, even though that can take a little while. She can lean on her old friends until she’s more comfortable.

If a month passes and she still seems unhappy and unable to connect, you may want to suggest she speak to the admissions tutor. If this isn’t helpful and she seems depressed, you might want to take her to a few professional counseling sessions to avoid her depression getting more serious. I don’t think this will be necessary in your daughter’s situation.

Signs of depression can include:

  • Noticeable changes in sleep or eating habits, (insomnia or excess sleeping, loss of appetite or overeating)
  • Constant crying or sadness
  • Feelings and expressions of hopelessness
  • Feelings of wanting to die
  • Self-destructive behavior (drinking, drugs, self injury)
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities she previously enjoyed
  • Personality changes (from docile to aggressive or from gregarious to laid back)
  • Irritability or restfulness

As your daughter becomes more comfortable in her surroundings, she will be building resilience and strength, and will be more confident the next time she encounters a less than ideal situation.

I hope she’s already feeling better.

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

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