I'm very worried about my 13 year old daughter.
She is an only child, always been around other adults and since being young had always struggled to make friends with her peers.
She is now at secondary school and although has some occasional friends, has never developed a best friend and her friendships only seem to dip in and out.
My daughter is such a lovely, friendly sincere girl. She is a little quirky in her mannerisms and can some times waffle on (y my own admission) about stuff for a bit too long which doesn't help her cause as people either lose interest or tell her to shut up! However I think a lot of this is nervousness as well.
She is currently in scouts and coming to the end of her time in scouts before moving onto Explorers. however, she told me she doesn't want to be the new girl again and is scared of bullying again and being ridiculed.
Her enthusiasm for getting involved in groups, activities and social situations appear to be worsening as she prefers to stay away from groups rather than trying to put herself out there.
I try to encourage her and want so much for her to build her confidence and esteem but at the same time I don't want to overpower or be overbearing and molicodle her - she does have to learn to stand on her own two feet - but i'm struggling.
I hate the fact she's an only child and I think this hasn't helped when compared to peers with siblings who have had the chance to develop their social skills.
Can anyone give any advice on how to deal with this!
Hi there Sheera,
sorry to hear your daughter's having a tough time. She sounds like a lovely girl, and with a kind understanding mother like you, I'm sure she can work through her problems and find friends that appreciate her for who she is.
do you know Hand in Hand parenting? They have a really useful approach that teaches parents how to listen to their children. By being a supportive listening parent this actually could help your daughter to heal from upset feelings about being a bit of a loner, and help to rebuild her confidence. This is a useful article that explains how this listening process works with teenagers. http://www.handinhandparenting.org/news/18/64/Supporting-our-Adolescent-Children
Hope it helps!
I'm the mom to three homeschooled introverts (and a younger extrovert!) who have had some social awkwardness and who have provoked occasional worry by their parents about their ability to make and keep friends. The three of them are older than your dd, and I can say that it gets easier. It's probably never harder than it is at age 11-14. And in my experience introverts often have a period of a year or two of real in-turning around age 13. I'm not sure it's due to lack of confidence as much as that they need to be really grounded in this new more-adult person they're becoming before they're interested in putting energy into external relationships again. My two eldest kids had a year or so where they seemed to spend most of their discretionary time in their bedrooms with almost no interest in the usual stuff. They came out of it, just naturally!
Your dd's comfort with adults will start to serve her well as her peers get closer and closer to being adults. The magnitude of subtle bullying behaviour will abate as her peers gain maturity. Quirkiness that is a liability amongst her peers now may very well be appreciated and cherished by older kids.
Some kids do not need a "best friend." My two eldest kids (19 and 16 now) have lots of good friends these days and robust social lives, but have never had anyone I'd describe as a "very close" or "best" friend. My 14-year-old met a lovely girl about 7 years ago and they've been inseparable since. I see pros and cons to it: on balance it's been great, but the friendship has also been a source of conflict, hurt feelings and misbehaviour, and more importantly I think my child's social world has been a bit hemmed in by this relationship: she's less likely to meet and hang out with others because her sidekick is always there to provide company.
With my kids it was specific interests that pulled them into the social world again. They both discovered a love of choral music and found a wonderful youth choral ensemble to join. They had violin and viola lessons and orchestras and workshops to put them in touch with others of a wide range of ages. Ds began volunteering with a local group offering safe and supervised computer gaming facilities to kids and teens in our community, getting involved in tech support and vetting software. If your dd has particular interests that might enable her to volunteer or join an program, 13 or 14 is a good age for that. It might not be time for that for your dd just yet, or perhaps Explorers just isn't the right program. She'll probably gravitate to something over the next year or two, though. Make sure you keep her informed of possibilities, especially for volunteer work. Be willing to make phone calls on her behalf if she expresses an interest. Look for ways to include her in the adult world, alongside you if need be, and to give her whatever additional personal and family responsibility she'd like.
Having said all this, it can be difficult to draw a line between peri-adolescent cocooning and depression. If you're concerned that she may be depressed, don't let my reassurances sweep those concerns under the table.
On the whole though, in my experience is that 13 is a tough year, and that's especially true of quirky introverts. It passes, though.
ETA: If she's actually lonely (and not just aimless, moody and 13), consider offering to include her in some of the social or recreational things you enjoy doing, or starting something together. Join a running club or a yoga class or a choir together, take a class in quilting or knitting or website design together.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
As the mother of a 13 year old introvert that spends most of her time alone, I understand your concerns. I am also saddened that my daughter does not have a sibling and I think that in ways our life as a little family of 3 has fostered her introversion. For various other reasons, not the least of which are her "quirkiness" and the fact that we move all-the-time, it t has been difficult for her to make friends throughout her life. In the past year or so, I have seen a marked decrease in her desire for spending time with the small group of friends that she has and has no inclination to initiate get-togethers . I have come to realize that for my daughter, spending time with people all day long during the school year is exhausting for her and she needs time to recharge. She does spend a limited amount of time in an on-line forum with girls that have similar interests, and that has been helpful in filling the need for companionship.
Miranda's insight is dead-on. I am reading again the book Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults and it has a section specifically about the gifted in adolescence. I am finding it helpful.
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