Making friends is not an easy skill for many people to master, particularly teen girls who can often feel shy and self-conscious. While you can't make friends for your daughter, she could benefit from some help and advice from you about navigating that social minefield -- after all, you were her age once. A teen who is struggling to make friends is unlikely to transform from wallflower to social animal overnight, so remember to take it one step at a time.
Encourage your daughter to join a club related to a hobby or interest. She may find it easier to make friends with other girls that are similar to her. Clubs usually have a structured or focused environment that should also make it easier for her to mix.
Suggest your daughter invites a girl from school or a club to the house for tea or sleepover or for a trip out to a restaurant or the cinema. Barbara Boroson, Scholastic author and autism spectrum educator, points out on the PBS Parents website that socializing is often much easier in a one-on-one situation. Help her plan some activities before the event, such as some crafting or pampering, to give them something to focus on and enjoy together.
Give your daughter a confidence boost by reminding her of all her good points. Tell her, "You would make a great friend because you are so kind" or "People will like you because you can make them laugh." Explain that everyone finds it hard making friends and it is a skill that she can practice and get better at, just like a sport. Say, "The more you try talking to people, the easier it will become."
Help your teen identify girls she could be friends with by talking about her interests and personality and trying to match-make. Ask her, "Are there any girls at school you think may be similar to you?" She doesn't necessarily have to hook up with another "shy" girl, but it may also be difficult for her to befriend the leader of the pack. Advise her to aim for someone else who appears to be on her own rather than groups of girls.
Set your teen some goals to work towards. The first might be that she tries sitting near others during lunch at school. When she can do this comfortably, have her try talking to another girl during break or in class, eventually aiming to ask another girl to meet up out of school.
Give some tips about talking to others and forming friendships. Suggest she tries saying something kind to another girl, or asking another girl where she bought her bag or shoes. Other conversation ideas could be "What bands are you into?" Suggest she tries doing something kind. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., suggests on the Psychology Today website that simply lending a pencil or helping another girl carry some books can be a good way to start a friendship.
- Lots of family trips and experiences, such as restaurants and holidays, can help to boost your teen daughter's confidence. This can then lead to her having more confidence with her peers.
- Try not to label your daughter as "shy" as if it is a permanent part of her personality. Instead talk about the fact that she is "feeling shy."
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