lifechallen... asks:

how can i help my eight year old daughter be social and not be afraid to make friends?

My daughter is quiet around children and says no one likes her as a friend. I'm a worried parent who has signed her up for sports at our neighborhood park so she can socialize but once we come home my child cries and feels like an outcast.
In Topics: Friendships and peer relationships
> 60 days ago



Sep 21, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

when your child is expressing upset about her social relationships, it can indeed cause a parent to worry. Signing her up for sports at the park was a good idea, but may be one she is not quite ready for if she does not yet have the skills to introduce herself and get to know other kids.

If she is expressing discomfort about knowing how to make friends, you might try a couple other things first.

first, you might have a talk with your daughter's teacher to see what is going on in school, which is the key social setting for kids. It may be that what your daughter experiences inside of herself is not what is actually happening at school. If it turns out that the teacher confirms that your child is struggling with making friends, you can also speak to the guidance counselor to see what programs or classes the school has to help kids with social skills.

It sounds like your child is young, though you do not say her exact age.
If she is in elementary school, the guidance counselors can be very helpful with suggestions.  In middle school there are often programs set up to help kids with friendships. high school may not have the programs, but a high school guidance counselor might be able to help you think through options for helping your daughter.

In addition, if she is young, you might try having your daughter identify a friend she might like to come over for a "play date." Even better talk to the other child's mom. You might invite the mother too. In this way   your daughter can see you interact with a peer, which would offer a modeling experience. And of course, she will be on home territory, which can make it a safer experience than the playground.

If nothing works, or even if some things do work, you might want to have your daughter evaluated, and possibly receive some therapy from a professional social worker or counselor. A professional can help identify and correct underlying issues that may be contributing to the problems.

Good luck, and don't give up. Lots of kids are shy, and with your caring and support, she will grow.

Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
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