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Teen Daughter - no real friends or social life - advice ?

(22 Posts)
kalkem72 Wed 25-Nov-15 22:40:52

DD age 14 1/2 appears to have no real close friends and no social life what so ever. She spends all spare time either doing homework, watching tv/films or on her phone. I have noticed since starting high school over a year ago her closest friends have all gradually moved on and made new friends whereas she hasn't. I have spoken to school and there are no real problems there, she has friends at school but doesn't seem to communicate with these outside of school and says they are just 'school friends'. I have spoken to her and although she appears not to care or not worried but I know deep down she is. I have tried to encourage extra curricular activities either at school or elsewhere and she flatly refuses to even try. I am always happy to have people over so there is no issue there either.

I don't know what else to do or try - or do I just leave her and hope she comes out the other side? It really upsets me to know that her old friends are now meeting up or having sleepovers etc with new groups and she is sat at home on her own.

whattodoforthebest2 Wed 25-Nov-15 22:56:27

I know how you feel and how worrying it is.

My DD (now 16) had a terrible time at 14. Her friends were chopping and changing constantly, one minute being friendly and the next distant. They seemed to be very insecure at that age and desperate to fit in.

Whilst I understand your concern, I think you should leave her to get on with it. Try not to make a big deal of it, but be there so that if she wants to discuss her friendships with you she can. If she has any extra curricular activities going on, encourage her to stick with them, so that at least she has other opportunities to make and sustain friendships away from school.

Hopefully in time it'll sort itself out.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Wed 25-Nov-15 23:00:17

How was she at junior school? Does she want `that kind` of friendship? Does she want to be invited, or try to arrange stuff? Is she worried about reaching out? Sounds like a people watcher to me.

kalkem72 Thu 26-Nov-15 14:58:46

Thank you both for replies. I think she is really wanting that one special friend who gets her and can boost her up to be honest. I have explained that this isn't always how it works and its better to have a few close friends who have different interests. I feel for her so much but at the same time feel as if she isn't helping herself either. She has a phone so she can send a text to ask if someone if free to do something instead of having to ask face to face.

She is very introverted and lacks confidence and sometimes over analyses/gets anxious about silly things. I think you may have hit the nail on the head by saying she is a people watcher and would much rather be asked than do the asking - but at the same time no one does!

I do feel as if I have tried all avenues and can really do no more other than to let her get on with it -as upsetting as it is :-(

kalkem72 Thu 26-Nov-15 15:01:12

A teacher at school I have spoken to about her has suggested about her getting a job - as she feels this may boost her confidence a little and get her involved in something - plus a bit of extra money for herself. I think this will be the next idea perhaps in the new year/spring.

Kleinzeit Fri 27-Nov-15 09:46:07

My DS has social probs and went through a phase like this at about the same age. I worried about it but felt there wasn’t much I could do. I tried to make sure that the rest of DS’s life was going OK – not bullied or unhappy in school, getting some exercise (weekly swimming lesson) and doing something positive at home – we got him a cookbook and he cooked dinner once a week and he’s quite a good cook now! DS also started doing Duke of Edinburgh, it didn’t directly help him make friends but it did get him out of the house a bit. Dunno if your DD would consider that? A part-time job sounds like a very good idea too, DS worked in a charity shop for his DofE volunteering and that helped his confidence a lot.

Anyway, by about late 15-16 DS started to come through that phase. He found some friends and even goes out with them now and again. One of the girls in his little group seems to organise them and energise them, young teenagers can be amazingly bad at getting their act together and if she didn’t run things sometimes I think they’d still never manage to meet up at all!

kalkem72 Fri 27-Nov-15 19:09:10

Ah thank you Kleinzeit - that has made me feel better. I am such a worry guts about it all but do think she is not doing much to help herself - and there really is only so much I can do/advise. It is so hard when I know what she needs to do to help herself but she just doesn't! She goes to a piano lesson once week for half an hour but this doesn't give her the opportunity to meet anyone. She is doing well at school, gets homework done on time and sorts herself out etc so that's one blessing I suppose.

I will look at the Duke of Edinburgh as a friend of mine son's does that too - it might be something she can get into. Other than that I really have no clue - just hope that one way or another she will come out of it I guess.

OnADarkDesertHighway Sat 28-Nov-15 11:46:01

I was painfully shy as a teen and had no social life. Had friends at school but seeing them out of school meant I needed to ring them (pre mobiles and internet) which was an ordeal for me or risk them saying no. Went to a disco once and I hated it. Dancing so not my thing.

When I left school and got a job I was forced to do things and I gained confidence and gradually became more social.

I have lots of friends now and I have done since my 20s.

For me it was just confidence. Funnily enough the majority of the time doing my own thing did not bother me as a teen.

Your DD will grow out of it most likely. My mum worried about me however I was ok on the main.

lbab1702 Sun 29-Nov-15 08:49:29

My DD is 15 1/2 and exactly the same. Rarely sees her friends outside of school. I am sure she would like to get out more but I she doesn't think she has that much in common with them. She is happy doing things with me, so I try and get her out of the house shopping or going for a walk at weekends. I hope when she goes to 6th form college next year she might meet people she connects with better. I also hope she will get a weekend job when she turns 16, which might also help. I worry all the time about her, as it doesn't seem healthy to isolate herself. She is shy, lacks confidence and definitely would prefer one friend rather than be part of a big group.

looksupatthe Sun 29-Nov-15 17:50:14

I was exactly the same as a teenager. I was shy and very introverted, and I preferred to spend my time at home. I also had social anxiety, which built up when I was about 15, and at that time, you couldn't have paid me to go out and do anything with friends in case I wore the wrong thing, said the wrong thing ect. Maybe you could slowly build up your daughter's confidence, and talk to her about how you felt growing up. My parents never did this and it all came to a head one night when I flatly refused to get out the car to go to a dance (my parents had spent over £100 on the ticket, dress and shoes). Ask her what she worries about and try to help her work through them; encourage her to try them. I think the worst thing for me was I knew I couldn't carry on being shy and anxious but I didn't know how to break out of it. If my parents had asked me "Can I do anything to help you?" it might have made a lot of difference.

LoudButProud Sun 29-Nov-15 21:25:35

Hi, maybe she needs a confidence boost? Pethaps a new bold haircut. Red hair is very in at the moment- her peers will be naturally drawn to her! Good luck

paintandbrush Fri 04-Dec-15 12:07:21

This was me at that age. what really helped was

a) heavy involvement in focused extra curriculars- I spent about 10 hours a week in orchestra and so on and did eventually become friendly with all the people who were constantly around me, and

b) getting facebook- absolute godsend because shy people can say stuff there without having to fight to make their voices heard. Getting likes might give her self-esteem a boost too.

a lot of bitchy stuff goes on on FB too though, so keep an ear to the ground.

purpledasies Fri 04-Dec-15 12:58:52

Does she use social media much? That can be a great substitute for face to face interaction, and is also often used for organising things. It's also good for people who prefer to watch from the sidelines a bit at first.

An extra-cirricularl activity where she's one of the older ones might help boost her confidence. If she plays piano you could see whether an orchestra would have her to play percussion?

Onlyonamonday Fri 11-Dec-15 23:23:38

My oldest dd ( now 20) was like this at that age worried me for a while as her younger sister was very sociable and outgoing.
Dd1 had friends at school but didn't see them much at home.
Looking back I was more worried than she was .. I would question and be concerned around her which only made it more of an issue .. When dh said to take a step back and let her be , it was the best advice.
She did well at school and is now at uni having made fab friends and having the time of her life.
I would keep a close eye but not make it an issue. She knows you are there.
14 is an age where socially things are constantly changing.
She will blossom into her own person.

longingforfun Fri 11-Dec-15 23:33:01

My dd was the same -few friends and no social life, never included in any schoolfriend meetups but wasn't proactive in joining in. She's in her twenties now, left uni, still no real social life, still an introvert but seems very happy with her longterm boyfriend.

Diane31 Wed 16-Dec-15 10:04:51

My 13 year old is extremely shy and had selective mutism when she was aged 3-6 but thankfully came out of that. We live semi-rural but not too far from town or anything really but not within walking distance of primary or high school. Daughter did ok in primary really, always had friends, went to parties and sleepovers but on starting high school, after a few weeks in, she hated it. Her friends were moving on and doing sports etc. Something my daughter struggled within due to never getting help with lefthandedness at school. Her nearly 15 year old brother has highfunctioning autism but is doing well and is happy at his special school but again this may have affected Jessica to a degree as all her friends had siblings and neighbourhood friends around the school where as we had to get the bus home from school so rushing to the bus-stop to be home in time for son's special school bus. All that is in the past but after a term in year 7 high school (a large nearly 2000 pupil high school even though it is only in a village(!) though a large commuter villagem she started to refuse to go to school, wouldn't get out of the car to speak with pastoral so I took her out and tried home ed. Something we have always been curious about. It was ok for a six months or so but now daughter is desperate to start back at a new school to it is proving difficult. Our local home town, only 15 mins away which I think will be good for social reasons, has schools that are oversubscribed and we are one digit out of being the right postcode though before they all became academies we had the right postcode. Waiting to see if two other schools in neighbouring LEAs have a place. My daughter stays in her, isn't interested in much, not music, films or reading or anything. She enjoys her horseriding an hour a week but doesn't really mix there. We made a couple of friends in home ed but daughter wants to move away from the whole home ed thing now. I think even when she gets a school place, it will be hard for her as she is so shy. I think the idea of getting a Saturday job is a good one. Daughter has just turned 13. It really is very very hard. Anyone in the south Manchester/north Cheshire area???

Diane31 Wed 16-Dec-15 10:06:57

Looksupatthe, that sounds very similar to how my daughter is now. Primary school was ok, shy but coped and went to parties etc. I do try and talk to her but she pushes me away at the moment.

Diane31 Wed 16-Dec-15 10:13:52

.....going to look up Duke of Edinburgh....thanks to this post I have one or two ideas. All the best to you all. Tis so hard at times!

Micah Wed 16-Dec-15 10:25:03

Google "the introverted child"

I think they key issue is is she happy? Does she like socialising at school, then coming home and having some alone time? Many people do, and if that's what she wants to do then back off.

I was like that as a teen. Socialising at school was more than enough, and I just found it exhausting the thought of having to deal with more people after school too.

My mum thought the same as you- No friends, should be out doing stuff, meeting people. She was constantly on my back, why don't you ring x, ask y to to this, z is nice, why don't you ask her round. She meant well, but honestly all it did was make me feel like there was something wrong with me, and I always felt a little voice saying that I was abnormal whenever I was alone and happy. I constantly felt I should be "making an effort".

Leave her be. I have an introvert daughter and what is helping her is telling her there's absolutely nothing wrong with being alone if she wants, saying no etc. She seems to be happy knowing her social life is on her terms, and nobody thinks she's a sad loser if she wants to stay in.

With regard to extra-curricular- team activities might be logical to an extrovert to force her to make friends, but I'd look for more individual stuff. Then she can go along, get on with it, and if she's not immediately involved in the social side it won't stand out. Stuff I enjoyed was First aid, (the red cross had a teen night once a week- that's good because you are told how to interact with people, and a lot is role play) swimming club, dance, drama, teen gymnastics, anything where I didn't have to "organise" or fit into a team.

But please, please, don't make her feel like she should have a big social life. She might not want one, and that's OK, really it is. I still don't have a social life, and I love it like that.

gleam Wed 16-Dec-15 10:34:18

Everything Micah said.

Diane31 Wed 16-Dec-15 10:37:39

That is good advice Micah for the post-starter and has helped me too. I feel like that with my daughter (always did) but personally, I just have to get her back into school!

kalkem72 Fri 18-Dec-15 20:33:30

Hi all - sorry I haven't been back on here - I have just re-read all your lovely replies. There is some fantastic advice there. She admits she doesn't like big groups and I have backed off with the asking "why don't you see if so and so is free" etc. She has a phone and contacts on there - so really is up to her to make arrangements. We made some small head way last weekend - we went to see a show and she was asking about joining a group to do the same. She is taking drama for GCSE which is quite uncanny really - but I have tried to encourage the joining a group so help her with confidence and meeting new people, so we will see how we go with that. I don't have much hope that it will happen but at least the seed has been sown. I have also mentioned to her music teacher to encourage her to join the school band although dd didn't seem to enthusiastic about that!

I don't feel there is much else I can do other than to back off, be supportive and just be there. Like many of you say perhaps its just the awkward age and in a few years she will feel more comfortable around others.

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