July 02, 2015

Q: My 12-year-old daughter has real friendship troubles. She has two friends that are twins and all three of them have been inseparable since kindergarten but this year, they seem to be losing their closeness for no reason. This has happened in a matter of a couple of months which is why it is such a hard thing for her to deal with and cope with.She is also unable to make new friends. She won't stand up to others when they tease her, she just sits there and takes it. My daughter is very unhappy and feels very lonely at school. She has very little self-confidence and has very negative feelings. How can I help her?

A: The 7th grade is a classic time for many changes in friendships and social relationships, even long-standing ones such as your daughter has experienced. It is not clear to me whether you are concerned about actual bullying--in which case you might meet with your daughter's teacher to learn more about whether this "teasing" is a problem or simply ordinary 7th grade ribbing.

You can best help your daughter by being a good listener and respectful supporter. Explaining that many 7th graders share her loneliness and suggesting tactfully that she might reach out actively to get to know some fresh faces may help. Joining an activity such as photography or sports or a special club may be an avenue for forging new relationships. Follow the lead of her personality and interests, so that the brainstorming comes from her participation too. Paradoxically, your being a temporary best friend and spending time with her picking updated clothes, hairdo, and other mother-daughter teenage activities can boost her spirits to find new connections with her peers.

Answered by Dr. Elizabeth Berger


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