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mom2cassie
mom2cassie asks:
Q:

My 12 year old daughter does not seem to be able to make friends. How can I help?

She has had one friend for many years, but this friendship has always been tumultuous and the friend has always seemed to use her.  Now she is in middle school but hasn't made any new friends.  She says no one wants to be her friend and she feels picked on at school.  Her teachers seem to think she is too sensitive and gets too upset about little things.  She does well in school and the adults all think she is wonderful, but she seems unhappy when it comes to her social life.  How can I help? or do I just sit back and hope things get better as she matures?
Member Added on Feb 3, 2010
I do not think she is depressed.  She is generally happy most of the time.  She has activities she likes to do.  She is in dance, drama and horseback riding.  She isn't afraid of making new friends, she just reports that other kids don't like her and don't want to be friends with her.  I asked her if she wanted to see a counselor and she has, in fact, talked with the school counselor, but she says that it wasn't very helpful and she doesn't seem to want to go that route.  Do you think I should take her to one anyway?  I think, she doesn't see that she plays a part in her inability to make friends.  She thinks it is everyone else's fault.  When I try to point this out to her, she gets angry and accuses me of always taking everyone else's side.  Frankly, I can't seem to say anything that doesn't make her mad at me.
In Topics: Friendships and peer relationships
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Monika
Feb 3, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Being a teen is stressful.  Teens experience rapid changes in their physical, cognitive, and psychological domains, and they try to make sense of them, while trying to figure out who they are.  They want to fit in with their peers, and in mid-adolescence, they tend to spend more time with friends than with their parents.

Your daughter sounds unhappy from your description.  She has no friends, she is very sensitive and easily disturbed emotionally, as her teachers told you.  Academically, she does well, but there seem to be deficits in her social life.

How do you find her emotional state?  Is she happy or sad most of the time?  Is she moody and cries easily?  How is her self-esteem?  Do you think that she is depressed?  If so, counseling might help in boosting her self-esteem that is crucial in interpersonal relationships.

Please read these articles:

Milestones of Adolescence
http://pluggedinparents.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=350&Itemid=201&ed=28

Encouraging Healthy Self-Esteem
http://www.pluggedinparents.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=442&Itemid=0
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Additional Answers (28)

BarbK
BarbK , Teacher writes:
How about your daughter inviting a few friends of for a small party?  They could make pizza and watch a movie.  Tween girls also like making something like designing T-shirts or beaning.  This way when the girl wear their craft projects to school, they will feel connected.  Also, keep the line of communication open with your daughter.  

I think you are doing the right thing by asking what you can do to help.  Sitting back in this day and age is not a good enough approach.  

Hope it works out for you and your daughter!
> 60 days ago

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AIRIEL
AIRIEL writes:
No its not to do with her maturing some kids are just nasty , my daughter is a nice girl and i feel cause she dosn't act like other kids in our area she gets singled out . Just like your daughter she had one friend who used her for what she could really days out pictures and the next minute we wouldn't see her for weeks on end. Put a stop to it we did. My daughter is a nice kind  caring young girl . Occasionly she can come accross snotty but i think she is just very wise when choosing her friends,she dosn't like to swear and always sticks up for other kids if she feels they getting picked on . The only way she could make friends in our area is if she was rude nasty swore played nick knock and was nothing but naughty . Id rather she made no friends if that was the case.It breaks my heart so much i think this holiday she's been so lonely and bored ,im desperate for her to meet nice young girls like her self and form lasting friend ships x x
> 60 days ago

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Lisab74
Lisab74 writes:
Hi, my daughter has no friends too, it breaks my heart, it's been the school holidays and nobody got in contact she had invited five friends to her birthday sleep over and everyone said they couldn't come, but then she found out that one of the other girls was having a sleep over and she was the only one not invited she was so upset,this group were new group as the last group she was with just used her and left her out of everything and would post stuff on face book so she could see she wasn't wanted,she is pretty slim funny I just don't understand we are not strict I just don't get it,my husband says what does she needs friends for, but I think she's sad and really missing out, just one friend would do, I have heard from another mum who's child is alot older never had any friends her mother asked if she wanted a 18 birthday party and the daughter replied no I've got nobody to invite and that really upset me, I don't want my daughter to be like that just one friend will do xxx
> 60 days ago

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feliciaky
feliciaky writes:
you can try introducing her into age realted groups so she can bulid her self confidence and learn to be able to make friends by herself eventually.
> 60 days ago

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amomandmore
amomandmore writes:
My 12 yr daughter is in the same spot.  1 friend who uses her when noone else is available and now she dropped her.  We have tried everything but she just can't seem to make and keep friends.  She is immature for her age but aware that the kids are mean to her.  I think that she has learning difficulites make it even worse.  I just don't know what else to do to help her.  It is just heartbreaking!!!!
> 60 days ago

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aqblickley
aqblickley writes:
Hi everyone,

It looks like a number of parents here are in the same boat. Being a 12-year-old is not an easy job - but I think that the daughters of everyone who has posted here are very lucky to have such supportive, caring parents.

I want to share an article we have on Education.com, called Nobody Likes Me: Helping Children Make Friends (linked in the Resources section below). It features some fantastic tips for supporting the development of friendship in your child's life. Some highlights for me:

-Offer a variety of ways for your child to socialize.
-Provide support by listening. If you can foster her knowledge that you are there for her, no matter what, she'll at least have the comfort of knowing that she has at least one loving friend.
-Keep things in perspective, and don't let her pick up on your own anxiety about the situation. These types of negative reactions are contagious!
-Show her how to be a good friend by being an example. Model the type of behavior you'd like to see in her. Be kind, give compliments, develop a sense of humor, and stay away from negativity.

I hope this helps! If anyone who has added to this thread would like to start a new question, please visit: http://www.education.com/question/ask/ and add a new question there. It takes just a moment, and you may find that you receive new insight - as our team of JustAsk Experts checks into the new questions regularly.

Good luck!

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RachelPD
RachelPD writes:
It is uncanny how similar your daughter's situation is to my younger sister's situation.  She too has difficultly in finding reliable friendships.  She is 12 years old, a 7th grader, does very well in school and has similar interests such as dance, drama, and horseback riding (w/ additional interests in basketball, piano/guitar, archery and karate).  She has an excellent rapport with her teachers and adults, however can become shy with her peers.  At home she is full of personality and wit.

We are located in northeast Ohio, and have tried to find social clubs/groups but have not had much success.

I thought perhaps some sort of penpal situation could help both girls expand their chances at friendship.  If you are interested, please contact my mother Beverly at baprn03@yahoo.com.

I understand this may come off rather direct, however I am eager to help find a positive peer relationship for her.  

Thank you,
> 60 days ago

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apalm
apalm writes:
You should tell her to talk to someone she likes and ask the person if they want to be friend. Or be her self. Ok
> 60 days ago

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Sydney'sMom
Sydney'sMom writes:
I could have written the same question. My daughter is the same way. Only, her problems started in 4th grade. She had a problem with a couple of students and she has not been able to get over this and she has had problems making friends. She has a few friends - just not a real close friend. The friends she had up to the 4th grade were here best friends. I have watched her interact with others and she feels intimidated and does not interact. When I ask her why she did not join in she says she didnt feel welcome or did not know what to say. Therefore, she will go back to the adults or sit it out. I too am at a loss as to what to do.
> 60 days ago

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maryann331
maryann331 writes:
My son is in 6th grade and can make friends easy but cant keep them.  He has Aspergers.  He is also picked on frequently. Does she exibit any signs of Autism or Aspergers?? Google it...
> 60 days ago

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LaurenC.
LaurenC. writes:
I know this thread is a year old, but I am experiencing the identical scenario with my 12 year old daughter and was wondering if any of you have found any truly helpful solutions ????? It is so painful to see my daughter, who is such a good kid, be so excluded and borderline bullied by her peers.  She is VERY sensitive which is a wonderful quality but presents many challenges as well. She is resistant to therapy and I have tried involving her in multiple activities outside of school but her confidence is so depleted that she is not opening herself up to others. TOUGH situation !! Any advice would be greatly appreciated !!
> 60 days ago

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LaurenC.
LaurenC. writes:
I know this thread is a year old, but I am experiencing the identical scenario with my 12 year old daughter and was wondering if any of you have found any truly helpful solutions ????? It is so painful to see my daughter, who is such a good kid, be so excluded and borderline bullied by her peers.  She is VERY sensitive which is a wonderful quality but presents many challenges as well. She is resistant to therapy and I have tried involving her in multiple activities outside of school but her confidence is so depleted that she is not opening herself up to others. TOUGH situation !! Any advice would be greatly appreciated !!
> 60 days ago

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lnault
lnault , Parent writes:
I was a pretty shy kid myself, back in the day, which made it more difficult to make friends. I think what helped me the most was getting involved in smaller group activities outside of school, where I wasn't afraid to speak up and where I had the opportunity to get to know the other kids better. It helps to be with kids who have the same interests as well.

Is there a small dance or drama class she could take that only accepts a few kids at a time?

These things do end up working themselves out in the long run. Sometimes kids are mean, and it can set your self-esteem back a notch (or make making the effort seem scary), but hopefully with time she'll make some great friends.

Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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Crymson
Crymson writes:
I could have written this letter myself.  I too have a 12 year old daughter, she happens to have ADHD...and that doesn't help the situation.  She is a very pretty, sweet girl...who has a big heart.  She has never seemed to be able to make friends and keep them.  She is teased at school...which breaks my heart.  I have tried to give her advice on handling situations.  The hardest part is that kids that have gone to school with her in her class, they tell others....thus the new kids don't want to be friends with her either.  It just perpetuates the whole thing.  My daughter would give the shirt off her back for people.  I just don't know why kids are so mean to her.
> 60 days ago

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Justamom11
Justamom11 writes:
My daughter is very smart and kind.  She has been picked on constantly for apparently because she is articulate and well spoken.  The girls pick on her constantly.  We chose to home school her a couple of years ago, which has helped, but with her social life, we have had a terrible time. She rides horses and the girls are all a bunch of spoiled rotten brats.  They are mean spirited and exclude her all the time.  She has tried to be their friends and they just ignore her and talk about her behind her back.  I tried to talk to the mothers and they seem to think that the girls have to work it out themselves, but my reasoning to that is, the girls can not work it out if they do not have guidance from an adult on how to behave.  We have been told by several girls that one particular girl is constantly saying mean things about my daughter to the other girls.  Instead of standing up to this girl, the girls go on her side and exclude my daughter.  My daughter at this time has decided that she does not want to be friends with any of these girls, so she has moved on, but the pain is still there.  She has done nothing to these girls, but be herself.  It is too bad that in this society, you have to be mean, stupid and evil to fit in.  All I can say, is that some day they will all have to answer to a higher being on their behavior and they will not be well received.
> 60 days ago

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jindy
jindy writes:
I don't have an answer and know this is an old thread but I need help and couldn't find where to put an additional question. I have a 12 year old son who is a straight a student, teachers love him, all adults love him, he is outgoing and friendly, he plays baseball, and is in the band.  He loves people and life.  He is one of the greatest and nicest kids ever.  We received 3 separate emails from 3 of his teachers this year telling us they had never met or seen such a nice and good kid who had such great character and was so bright and kind, etc.  I cried with joy for the blessing I have of my wonderful son.  However, for several years I have been so concerned that he doesn't have any good friends.  I have tried having parties....the kids do come over when offered an invitation to a movie or a party at the house with other kids.   I do it multiple times and our phone never rings.  There are all kinds of events and activities and my son is never invited.  He seems to get along with girls better than boys and even though I have been worried sick for a couple years now that my son doesn't seem to have any real friends, he thought he did and was always happy and I knew he had fun at school but I couldn't figure out why he never got invited to the birthday parties or sleep overs or anything else.  He didn't seem to notice it.  However, his "girlfriend" just broke up with him....they never really did anything anyway.....after 2 years.  He immediately asked someone else that he didn't like to be his girlfriend and when I really pressed him on it he told me he had to hurry and get her because he knew no one else would like him.   He was crying and I wanted to cry so badly.  This is killing me.  How could such a great kid not have any friends and feel like they have to settle at 12?????  I also didn't mention but everyone says how goodlooking he is to and he is gorgeous.  What do I do?  He told me tonight he wishes he could just go to a new school where he could start over.  He mentioned this mean girl who said she didn't like him and why would anyone else and he didn't stand up to her.  He explained she was the top of the food chain. He realizes he is at the bottom but for him to want to move to a new school.   This is really killing me and I want so much to help him.  Can someone please help us?  I pray every night for help.  Maybe I found this site to get some help........let me know.
> 60 days ago

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17Anne17
17Anne17 writes:
I found your question, because I am wondering the same things myself about my 12 yr old. She had an incident where her cousin shunned her on the playground in 3rd grade for a period of time (kind of like a big sister being sick of a little sister thing), and all the other little girls on the playground followed suit. She was very hurt by her cousin's rejection of her and she became convinced of her unlike-ability.

Yeah, I tried to talk to my sister about it but to no avail.

It seems that the incident continues to follow her, you know how that stuff is. It kind of marks you and you carry it with you and end up reinforcing it without intending to. I am hoping it improves when she gets to High School. But, I was hoping it would improve when she got to Junior High. It concerns me. She is a great little kid. She has friends, just no friends that she hangs out with outside of school.

In the meantime, reading everyone's posts here convinced me to do something I have been meaning to do for a long time. I contacted Big Brother/Big Sister. Has anyone else considered getting their friendless 12 year old a Big Sister? I think it's a good way to offset what is going on and maybe a Big Sister will have some ideas that I don't. Also, my 12 year old has reached that point where she won't tell me everything. I think a Big Sister would help as far as having someone else to talk to who she can tell things that she won't tell me.

Also, based on these posts, it seems like every school has its share of "social pariahs" --- the kids who aren't accepted into any group and can't break into a group. I was talking to a Dad whose eldest daughter had these problems and he said it changed when she got to High School.
> 60 days ago

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billybob502
billybob502 writes:
I am a teen, and you can't really help your daughter. I hate to admit it, but she's going to have to change herself. Maybe she's childish, or maybe she is too sensitive. All you can do is help her change that.
> 60 days ago

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Esme:p
Esme:p writes:
Trust me being a 12 year old girl is not easy at all
Maybe she is being bullied, talk to her!
> 60 days ago

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tav2000
tav2000 writes:
I am dealing with a similar situation.  My 12 year old daughter will not put up with bullying, mean girls therefore she is the outcast.  She's a smart, funny and talented girl she just can't seem to find one person she can truely trust.  It seems that most girls this age want to follow the queen bee and not voice their own opinion.  I pulled my daughter out of public school and put her in a private Catholic school thinking this would help.  Well, instead of three mean girls (at the public school) there is only one (at the private school) but this one rules all and she is nasty.  She told all the other girls to ignore my daughter because my daughter had the nerve to speak up and tell this girl she was mean and rude.  Now what?  I wish there was a way to find other nice girls in the same situation and have them 'meet up' and to help them realize they are not alone and there are nice girls out there looking for a friends also.
> 60 days ago

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