My teenage daugh­ter has no friends

The Leader (Nelson) - - YOUR HEALTH - Q: My 14-year-old daugh­ter has no good friends. It re­ally both­ers her, she feels self­con­scious about it. She went to a small ru­ral pri­mary school and be­cause of her birth­day date, my hus­band, her teacher, and I had to make a de­ci­sion whether she should go

The de­ci­sion you made all those years ago about class place­ment is prob­a­bly ir­rel­e­vant now. You made it in good faith and there’s plenty of in­stances where your ex­act sit­u­a­tion has had a favourable out­come.

Some chil­dren – in fact many chil­dren – find their school­days tough for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons and it’s not un­til they leave school that they find their real friends or find their ‘‘place’’. It may be that your daugh­ter will be a bet­ter fit for con­nect­ing with peo­ple when she’s an adult.

In the mean­time, you could chat with your daugh­ter about friendship and how it works. Does she un­der­stand rec­i­proc­ity, lis­ten­ing, shar­ing? Does she ask peo­ple about them­selves? Does she give off an air of des­per­a­tion? You could also set up a meet­ing with her teacher to see if there’s an as­pect of your daugh­ter’s per­son­al­ity that might cause her to be on the outer.

You say your hus­band was her teacher in the early days. Did he no­tice your daugh­ter having any trou­ble with so­cial cues?

An­other sug­ges­tion is that you be­friend some of the moth­ers? In­vite fam­i­lies over and let your daugh­ter so­cialise in a group sit­u­a­tion. Th­ese sug­ges­tions will only work if your daugh­ter ac­tu­ally wants your help. It may be that your strate­gis­ing and in­ter­fer­ing makes things worse for her.

If that’s the case, you might just have to be em­pa­thetic and lis­ten. Help her find joy in things that are more alone. Once she loses the panic and des­per­a­tion, she’ll be more at­trac­tive to her peer group.

You can guide your daugh­ter in all as­pects of so­cial­i­sa­tion but at the end of the day, she’ll have to fig­ure this out for her­self. We want to fix things for our chil­dren but this may be one thing you can’t fix.

Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and writ­ten three nov­els for young adults, in­clud­ing Stick­ing With Pigs which was re­leased in March 2018. (One Tree House). As one of seven sis­ters, there aren’t many par­ent­ing prob­lems she hasn’t talked over. To send her a ques­tion email life.style@stuff.co.nz with Dear Mary-anne in the sub­ject line. Your anonymity is as­sured.

123RF

Many chil­dren find their school­days tough and it’s not un­til they leave school that they find their real friends.

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