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Daughter Ignored by Best Friend
Q: My 12-year-old daughter has now entered the seventh grade and her best friend (since the first grade) is ignoring her. Her friend now appears to be meeting and hanging out with new friends. My concern is that my daughter doesn't appear to be meeting any new friends to socialize with outside of school. I see her trying to hang on to this friendship. What is the best way to help my daughter through this?
A: Your daughter is going through one of the normal and very painful developmental experiences of kids this age. It sounds as if you are already making a very important step in helping her -- you are aware and you understand. As for other ways, you might plan with your daughter a very small outing -- shopping, pizza, picnic -- where she can invite one or two other girls/boys that she might like to get to know better.
Make some "dates" with your daughter for the two of you to do something special together. Perhaps the two of you or your entire family could spend some time volunteering. Encourage her to develop her talents or interests through clubs or community education. In other words, help her focus not on getting friends, but on being comfortable with herself. In doing all this she will make friends because she is an interesting and interested person.
Spend some time talking with her about what it was like for you to make friends: what you did, any problems you had with friends, and how you worked it out. Most of the time, young adolescents need to know that parents had to learn these skills, too, and that it is possible to make new friends.
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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.