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Ask a Professional: I need help for my 17 year old daughter has has no true friends

Ask a Professional: I need help for my 17 year old daughter has has no true friends

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Linda-ROPro

Ask a Professional: I need help for my 17 year old daughter has has no true friends

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I am so worried about my daughter. She is a very sweet girl. She wants a friend so bad. She just opened up to me and cried so hard that she eats her lunch at school in the bathroom. She has no real friends and doesn't get invited to hang out with other kids. She is always feeling left out. She has low self esteem and I don't know what to do to help her.

I know there has to be other kids out there feeling the same way and I just don't know how to connect her with others. Her grades have gone down this year. I am helpless. I wish I could find a forum online where she can connect with other teenagers that might need a friend. She thinks she is the only one going through this. I have seen her feeling down, but nothing like today. She is hurting so bad. I am even crying writing this. I feel so desperate to help her.
nataliestone

Hi @nataliestone,

I can really hear how heartbroken you feel that your daughter is so unhappy. 

You are absolutely right that there are other teens who feel alone. The teenage years can be very difficult when it comes to friendships and unfortunately it’s not uncommon for people to experience a time when they feel excluded and isolated.

Connecting with others online can absolutely be something young people find helpful when they don’t have friends at school, and it is great that you are looking for solutions to help with your daughter’s situation.

When supporting someone who is feeling distressed, it can be really helpful to check in with them about how you can be most helpful before offering solutions. I mention this because sometimes parents will offer ideas and solutions to their teenage children, only to find their kids aren’t wanting to take these on board.

This can happen because parents mean well and want to make things better, but sometimes the teen would prefer to come up with their own ideas, or would just like the parent to listen and provide emotional support. So you might find it helpful to ask your daughter if she’d like you to make some suggestions, or for the two of you to brainstorm ideas together.

You seem to be in the US, and I am more familiar with the online communities designed for Australian young people (such as the one we have at ReachOut), but I would also suggest that as well as looking for spaces designed for making friends, online spaces which are aimed around hobbies or areas of interest can be a great way to connect with others, so it could be helpful to consider what your daughter is interested in.

This can apply to options in your local area as well as online - local sports or community groups can provide an opportunity for her to meet different people and possibly make friends. 

Whether online or in person, making friends can take a little time, so it’s important not to get discouraged if things don’t improve straight away.

In the meantime, spending quality time together, particularly doing things that you both enjoy, can be a great way to help her feel loved and supported.

You mention that your daughter has low self-esteem and has been feeling down. I am not sure if this is because of her being lonely, or if this is something which has been a problem for her for a while, but it could be helpful for her to talk to a counsellor or psychologist to explore how she is feeling. If this is something she would be open to, your doctor should be able to connect you with local services, or there may be some resources that the school can offer.

Best wishes,

Linda

 

Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.

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