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Ask the Expert: My Teenage Daughter Has No Friends

My 15-year-old is struggling to make friends. Well, she’s not struggling. My husband and I are struggling with the fact that my daughter has no friends. We don’t care that she’s not popular; we just don’t want her to be socially isolated. She says she has friends at school (to eat lunch with, walk to class with, etc.). But she rarely hangs out with friends outside of school. Thoughts?

Teen life coach and workshop facilitator Barb Steinberg, LMSW responds.

1. Gather information.

Set the stage for your daughter coming to you for help by opening up a conversation with her about her friendships. Is your daughter really struggling with friendships? Ask her, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning she has the perfect amount of friends and wouldn’t change a thing about her friendships to 1 meaning she would like to change everything about her friendships, how she would rate the current state of her friendships.

If she takes her friendship “temperature” and rates it at a 7 or higher, that is an indication that you will encounter resistance around making any changes in her social life. She does not seem to need help making friends.

If she shares a number which is 6 or lower, you might consider following up with a related series of questions:

What would you change about your friendships? Would you change the number of friends you have? Do you want to be closer to the friends you currently have? Would you like to have one best friend or a few close friends? How many times a week (or a month) would you like to hang out with friends outside of school?

All these questions help you better understand what is enough for her.

2. Separate your own emotions.

Remind yourself that how she assesses her friendships is separate from how you may feel or what you may observe. Perhaps you are an extrovert and draw energy from being around others, and she may be an introvert and not need as much social interaction as you.

We all want what is best for our daughters and want to do our part in helping them become happy and confident. Parents, however, must be careful not to assume what we want for our daughters is the same as what they want. We may also need to remind ourselves that our girls’ social status is not a reflection on ourselves or how good of a parent we are.

3. Support her in creating and maintaining the genuine friendships she wants.

While you think she has no real friends, it’s possible that your daughter is maintaining friendships from home, via her phone or electronic device. In this case, you may want to encourage a balance between her “virtual” or online friendships and the experiences she will share with friends IRL (in real life).

Ask your daughter to pick out someone she would like to spend more time with. Since she is still learning how to navigate friendships, you may need to coach her on how to invite someone to join her in a fun activity, how to respond if she gets turned down and how she should respond when she receives an invitation from a friend.

Talk through different strategies she could use to address whatever anxiety she might have.

If she is still having trouble making friends in high school, you might consider putting your heads together to sign up for an activity outside of school which she is passionate about. This might provide her with an opportunity to connect and engage with similar minded peers. If nothing else, you are helping encourage her in spending time doing something she loves, which will help her confidence.

Excerpted from “Ask the Expert: My Teenage Daughter Has No Friends” in Your Teen magazine for parents. Read the full article online.

Source: Your Teen | Ask the Expert: My Teenage Daughter Has No Friends, https://yourteenmag.com/social-life/teenagers-friends/teen-friendships | © Your Teen Magazine

If you have concerns about your child or teen, CHC Care Managers can arrange a free 30-minute consultation so you can explore options with an expert. We invite you to call or email our Care Managers at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org to set up an initial Parent Consultation appointment. CHC teletherapy services are available now.

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