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Ask a Professional: My teenage daughter has no friends

Ask a Professional: My teenage daughter has no friends

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Linda-ROPro

Ask a Professional: My teenage daughter has no friends

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I am so sad for my teenage daughter she has no friends. She started crying the other day and told me she gave up on friends they always made her a option. I asked her what she meant and she said I was never one they picked or wanted to hang out with "I was a option if they didn't have nothing else to do."

She stated she got her feelings hurt all the time and just decided that no one wanted to be her friend and now accepts being alone. It breaks my heart she is the sweetest kindness child I know I watch her be alone daily never is she invited anywhere, she has a phone no one calls her it breaks my heart. I invite her with me I can't get her to go or so anything she does home school because she cried everyday she has to attend school.

I'm worried, she seems to be ok but I know deep down she wants a friend to go out with everyone leaves her out never do they try and invite her she is really shy is what I have heard other teenage kids say about her. Never nothing bad.

I have tried to make arrangements for her to meet up with a friend and they do and then nothing Please help any ideas or advice.

Thank you from a concerned parent

Lonelydaughter

 

Dear @Lonelydaughter

It must be heartbreaking to see your daughter feel so rejected by her peers, particularly when you can see what a lovely person she is.

You mention that she is quite shy, and it makes me wonder if she may be experiencing some social anxiety. This is really common, particularly if she feels others have judged her in the past. Sometimes people with social anxiety can appear withdrawn and quiet in social situations, which can make it hard for other people to feel connected with them, and get in the way of making friends. For this reason, addressing social anxiety and learning social skills can be helpful for some teens who have difficulty making friends. There is some info about social anxiety for teens here: https://au.reachout.com/articles/social-anxiety-disorder

Sometimes it can take some time for teens to find a group of people they connect with (and who they can feel comfortable with and supported by). Looking for hobbies and activities which involve spending time with others can be a great way to meet people who they have things in common with. It can take time for friendships to develop, and this also gives them an activity to do which they find rewarding and engaging in the meantime

However, this does involve your daughter feeling willing to reach out and try to connect with others, and it’s understandable that she doesn’t feel able to do this right now given she is feeling really hurt.

Online groups (like the RO forums) can sometimes be a little easier for teens, as they may not feel as vulnerable as a face to face connection.

It could also be really helpful for your daughter to talk to a professional (such as a psychologist), which could give her some time and space to talk about how she is feeling, and also can be helpful if there is underlying social anxiety or self-esteem issues which are contributing to the situation. A GP can refer you to a local mental health professional.

You seem like a really caring parent, and this is a tough situation. Don’t forget to also look after your own wellbeing (here are some self-care ideas), as this can help ensure you have enough emotional energy to keep supporting your daughter.

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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