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How to encourage my daughter to make more friends.

Discussion in 'Parents Off Topic' started by DsMom, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. DsMom

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    My daughter just started middle school (6th grade). She has had one extremely best friend since kindergarten...they do everything together...to the exclusion of everyone else. I know other girls do like her...and I don't think she is really excluded by them...she seems to do it to herself. She is pretty shy socially (coming from a once cripplingly shy mom!:eek:)...but is very confident in other ways. She never has a problem speaking publicly in class, she and her best friend even composed and sang a song at the chorus concert in the spring in front of hundreds of people. She is academically gifted and, I'd say this even if I weren't her mom, very sweet and kind. Her teachers comment on how humble and helpful she is. She is quiet and enjoys quiet hobbies like reading, girl scouts, and crafts. She is definitely not concerned with being "cool" or trendy things.

    I've tried over the years to get her to spread her wings socially and include more friends in her life...but she is always satisfied with just her best friend. Now she is in middle school and does not see her friend much...I really worry about her not having at least a small group of friends. In social situations, if she sees that a girl is talking to another girl or is in a group, she will never approach them...I think she feels she is intruding. I really feel a group of friends is important in middle school...so much changes socially...friends can be a shield and a comfort through all that.

    How can I encourage her to open up without being a nag? I'm hoping she will be able to join some clubs soon...she is not athletic and so isn't on any teams. Any other thoughts? Should I even worry about this...or just let her be?
     
  2. obtainedmist

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    Middle school is an interesting place to meet new friends, discard some and be discarded by others...it's not a place for the faint of heart! And, hearts will be broken and mended and broken again because this is a tricky age for kids (especially girls who can sometimes go through that "mean girl" stage).

    I would encourage her to get involved with things she really enjoys, and hopefully the friends will follow. Keep in mind that some kids don't need a group...just a few good friends are sufficient. These kids are going through all that hormonal/emotional stuff as it is...if you push the friend issue too much, you might put too much pressure on her or make her feel as if you think she is falling short in the social department. These kids are very sensitive to criticism at this age.

    How is she feeling? Has she mentioned that she's lonely or feeling lost at school because her best bud isn't around much? I'd take your cues from her as far as trying to help her. Good luck!:)
     
  3. Lisa P.

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    I try to facilitate my kids having lots of groups of kids they are around so they have several different groups of friends, so I think I understand your inclination to encourage her to branch out.

    However, I would caution that if your child is bright and socially well-adjusted (which your description leads me to believe she is) she may be making a good choice in the way she deals with peers. Having a good friend that she can trust and keeping a bit of distance between her and other groups may be wise. In my opinion, much of the social world in middle and high school is pretty dysfunctional and depending upon relationships formed there can be very disruptive. Light friendships have their place. :)

    I often recommend Gordon Neufeld on peer relationships at this age.

    http://www.gordonneufeld.com/

    He has some Youtube videos and MP3s that can give you an idea of his theories. I think he has some good takes, and I almost suspect your daughter instinctively understands the hazards he discusses and has chosen the wiser path than her peers have. Ignore all of the above if it doesn't fit your situation of course!
     
  4. DsMom

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    You're right that I don't want to push her too much. She does not complain...but she is not a complainer in any sense and holds a lot in. I really have to encourage her several times to open up about something that might be bothering her (she gets this from me:(). But she has never complained of a lack of friends. I just get sad when I've seen her in group situations and all the other girls and clustered and giggling...and she keeps herself apart. She will even do this if her best friend is part of the group. I also worry that her best friend will eventually find other good buds...which she really hasn't either until this point...and then my daughter will be completely alone.:(

    Thanks. I will definitely look at his stuff.

    I understand what you're saying about the pitfalls of too many and/or shallow friends. Growing up, I tended to keep just a few people close...and ignored all the teen angst of the rest! I just worry that ONE friend is not enough. As I mentioned before, if her friend should branch out and my daughter doesn't, she'll be stuck. I will never expect her to care about being Miss Popular, I never did, but a warm circle of friends she can count on if her best friend is unavailable is what I hope for her.

    That said, she and her best friend are like two peas in a pod. They have always understood each other and, growing up, always played in creative and interesting ways that I did not see other girls doing. I would never want her to lose her best friend...but wish for a broader circle for both of them. Bonds can break in middle school...if hers breaks with her friend and the middle school social groups have already been formed...well, I just worry for her because she is so quiet and does not put herself forward.

    Thanks to both of you!
     
  5. Becky Stevens mom

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    My older son tends to be more like that. He has his one best friend and his girlfriend and is happy with that. He is also not into sports but does enjoy being in chorus and doing plays. Does your daughter enjoy doing things like that? There are so many more groups and clubs in middle school then there were in elementary school. Im sure she'll find something to interest her and start making some more friends:cwds:
     
  6. DsMom

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    Thanks:). She is a big "joiner" and enthusiastic about joining something like the yearbook...I do hope she will find a few new friends that way. She is in the band and I think she wants to continue on in chorus this year. She would probably love being in plays...she definitely does not have my fear of public speaking, thank goodness.

    I don't want to be unaccepting of who she is as a person...she is the best kid imaginable...it's just she is my oldest and this middle school thing freaks me out.:eek: I went to an extremely small school...my graduating class was about 85 people! She has 350 kids in her 6th grade class alone!:eek: I don't want her to get lost in such a big crowd.
     
  7. saxmaniac

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    I think the way for kids to build strong friendships, is through lightly-supervised, loose-or-no-structure group social interactions with other kids their age.

    They need plenty of space to be able to bond and talk about things they can't talk to their parents about. That's impossible if you, or other adults, are on top of them the whole time. Of course, you can't be entirely absent, either.

    Think something like a sleepover where you're still in the house, but really just staying on a different floor and just keeping an ear out to make sure they don't get in too much trouble. Or a pool party, where you stay inside. Or dropping them all off to see a movie, and then having a bit of free time before and after to goof around a bit.

    If you can plan, or help plan, such activities like this, it will be a huge boon to their social life. Kids want to have fun, they just don't have anywhere to do it!
     
  8. quiltinmom

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    It may not be in her nature to have lots of friends. Some people would choose one or two good friends over 10 so-so friends. (I just read an interesting book about people's personality types. There is one type that it said specifically doesn't prefer to have lots of friends. This type also doesn't tend to be concerned about doing what's cool or trendy, just as you described your DD.) If she is satisfied with her social life, I'd leave it be. It isn't bad to create socializing situations with other girls, but to try to convince her she needs more friends probably won't work. It sounds like she isn't socially "weird" or anything. There may be girls at school she hangs around with (or will hang with, once the school year really gets going) that she doesn't talk much about.
     
  9. Christopher

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    She sounds like a great kid (probably in large part to your parenting skills). If she is happy with the way things are, why would you want to change her? This sounds like it is more your issue than your daughters. I would leave it alone.
     
  10. DsMom

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    You're right...it is my issue. And I would never change a thing about her...I just don't want her to be lonely. And because she does hold so much inside...I worry she won't tell me if she is.:( But I think I will back off...I don't want her to think she is being criticized...because she is the kind of kid who always tries to do her best and the right thing. You couldn't ask for a better daughter.:)

    It is interesting to read the posts that say some people are just made to not want a lot of friends. She really just must be like that.
     
  11. Becky Stevens mom

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    My graduating class was 32 and thats with 3 towns all going to the same high school:) Im hoping with that many kids in her class that there will be lots of different personalities and groups where your daughter will find her nitch
     
  12. DsMom

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    Wow! I thought MY class was small!

    I also have been hoping that the new kids in her class would provide her an opportunity to make new friends...and that's what I've been discussing with her mainly. I hope she does take advantage of that. But I do think I should stop talking about it with her now. I see now I could be making her feel bad or inadequate...and that's the last thing I want.
     
  13. Heather(CA)

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    I feel your pain, I used to worry about my oldest having friends too. When he got to HS he joined the cross country team and has been great ever since. He is also very bright. I just had an 18th surprise birthday party for him with 25 of his good friends. How about Drama? Is she into that? Try not to worry too much, everybody is different some kids like to have lots of kids around, some don't. Both are OK :)
     
  14. Deal

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    If you really enjoy your own company you are never really alone! So if she is happy and active in the things she is interested in then maybe friends aren't that important. I wouldn't worry too much.
     
  15. swimmom

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    There really isn't much a mother can do at this age except to make possibilities and opportunities available. You can't make play dates anymore :-(. You an drive her home from school if she wants to stay for a club she's interested in, let her try a sport if she wants to, let her invite over a new friend (if SHE decides to). Other than that, you can just let her know (in lots of ways) that you think she's fabulous and you love her.
     

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