by Heather Freeman, click here to get all our posts.
Does your daughter come home saying she doesn’t have any friends? Does she shed tears over feeling left out at school? Does she sit alone at lunch?
We know girls who are shy, or reluctant to make friends are particularly vulnerable to being left out. This leaves moms worried. Why do other girls her age seem to have no trouble in the social department, while my daughter struggles? And what can we do then, as moms and as parents, to teach our girls the skills they need to make positive friendships and maintain nurturing peer relationships?
Well, this week’s post presents five barriers she may experience to friendship making. Keeping these in mind as you support your girl will help her gain the confidence she needs to create the friendships she desires.
A lack of friends is the main worry for many moms, including me. When my daughter was nine years old I thought – “well, she’ll find a friend to click with eventually…..” But it was heart-breaking to realize it didn’t magically correct itself. It was painful to hear about birthday parties that she didn’t get invited to or witness her sadness over having no one to play with at recess.
That may have been then, but this is her now:
On top of Brave Mt. (Mt. Shavano)
At the age of 14, Bailey has accomplished so much and makes me prouder than a sunbeam on steroids. Two years ago she moved across country and started from scratch to establish a circle of friends that she is super happy with and is mom approved, she’s served as a peer advocate on her school’s student council, and most recently left home for a week to run the southwest mountains of CO, including the 14,000 foot peak pictured above with her fellow running mates.
Confident. Brave. Connected with Her Peers.
Something every parent wants for their daughter. And however reluctant they may be to admit it, every girl wants the same.
In today’s post, I share with you the 6 Signs She’s Struggling to Make Friends and how you can spot these in your girl.
Moms often play matchmaker when girls are young, but once a girl hits kindergarten, it’s up to your her to find playmates. So, I’m hoping with today’s post you’ll get to learn more about what might be keeping her from making friends so you can tackle these obstacles head on and get her from lonely to part of the pack.
So let’s get started!
You can help her, and it’s worthwhile. By understanding what she struggles with most in social settings, you can help your daughter master being a part of the social scene.
*CONFIDENCE TIP: The key, many parents and experts agree, is taking small and gentle steps that encourage positive social interaction without being too pushy. The goal is to give your daughter opportunities for rewarding social experiences that will leave her wanting more rather than feeling pressured to do something she finds difficult. Your daughter may be shy, cautious, or observant by nature, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rather than try to change your daughter's personality, you can help her stretch just enough to discover the joys of friendship.
6 Signs She’s Struggling to Make Friends
She’s Anxious. Anxiety. It can hold a girl back from interacting, reading social cues, knowing how to join in a group, or sharing – all skills required for being in a relationship with others. To help her, take time to listen to your girl. Doing so will allow you to learn a lot about her and what she’s experiencing so you can understand what is at the heart of her anxiety. Some girls feel left out and rejected by peers, while others worry about making mistakes or getting teased. Maintain an open mind and stay curious. Be supportive and offer her a caring attitude. If your daughter is not ready to talk yet, it’s ok. Be patient. You can continue bring up the topic of friendship from time and to time. In the long run she’ll learn that you are available to talk about friendships and she’ll come to you when she is ready.
She’s Shy. Some kids are natural social butterflies while others need more time to warm up to new situations. Don’t worry if your daughter is a little more hesitant in social settings. Expecting every girl to be the first to jump in or be the leader of the group isn’t realistic, so avoid labeling her as shy and meet her where she is at. Avoid the mistake of keeping your more tentative daughter at home and instead give her opportunities to meet new kids. Gently encourage social interactions so as to bridge the transition from feeling shy to becoming more interactive with others.
She Watches and Doesn’t Ever Dive In. My youngest daughter is naturally observant. Don’t be mistaken – she is learning a lot about interacting, social cues, and communication by watching. Honor her observant nature. Let her take in what is going on around her on her own terms. Give her the time she needs to warm up to a group and encourage her join in when she’s ready.
She Doesn’t Speak. While being social may come natural to some, to others her making friends depends on learning new skills - skills that she can develop with practice. Helping her develop her conversational skills, will help her as she learns how to be social and interact with her peers. The earliest lessons kids learn about communication happen at home, and it seems they make a difference. Offer concrete advice about how to make a new friend, such as questions she can ask someone. One of my daughter’s favorite questions to ask a "Would you rather" question....for example, “Would you rather ride a bike or jump on a trampoline?”
She’s Showing Signs of Friend Phobia. When you enter a social situation together – maybe it’s an art class or a soccer practice…would she rather high tail it to the nearest door? Well, maybe she could use a lesson in Friendship ABC’s. Schools don’t teach friendship. But us moms, we can. Talk it up with your girl – share what friendship means to you. Tell her about what you look for in a friend. Share with her your friends and what they’ve meant to you. Just like math, some girls need to have it unpacked and explained in order for them to get it.
- She Acts Up During Playdates. Acting up may be a sign that she is struggling with how to join in with peers. While encouraging ways to interact during a playdate will help, it may be best to teach girls how to join in outside of that environment. Try role-playing at home. Pretend you are part of a group of kids playing and show your girl how to join in by saying, “What are you playing?” “How do I join the game?” rather than, “Can I play with you?” which can result in a quick, “No” reply. Talk about body language and how it’s an important piece of the friendship puzzle. Ask her, what did my face look like when I asked? Did I smile? Did I frown? Did doing so make it more likely that you’d want to say “Yes, please join in!” or “No, we have enough players.”
In this post I shared with you the 6 Signs She’s Struggling to Make Friends and how you can spot these in your girl. Keeping these in mind will help you gain insight into her struggles and how you can best help her overcome them. In the long run she'll gain the confidence she needs to create the friendships she desires.
And instead of feeling powerless on the other side of the school yard, you can now feel empowered knowing there are ways to help her.
Once you've checked out the barriers to making friends, I'd love to hear from you today:
- What does your daughter struggle with when making friends?
Head on down to the comments and let me know.
As you've heard from the Gutsy Girl Club before, anything is possible – especially when you believe in the power of connection. It doesn’t matter what your daughter’s personality style is, there’s always the potential for her to make some awesome friends.
I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed creating it and I look forward to seeing you in the comments!”
And, if you have fellow mama bears, friends, or family who might be worried about their own daughter, I invite you to share this post.
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