How Can I Help My 11 Year Old Daughter Make Friends?

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It can be heart-wrenching to learn that your daughter has no friends. Friendships are a vital component of a child's development, and researchers from the University of Florida's continuing education extension report that a lack of friendships during childhood can cause emotional and mental difficulties in life. While you may be tempted to dive in and solve your child's problem for her, it is recommended that you empower her with tools that help her solve this problem on her own.

Strengthen Your Relationship

The relationship between parent and child lays the foundation for all future relationships, notes University of Florida researchers. Through familial relationships, children develop the self-confidence and security that are essential for them as they venture out and make new friends. Take some extra time to bond with your daughter, and remind her of how wonderful and special she is. Make your daughter aware of her personal strengths to help her develop a strong self-concept, and feel confident about making friends.

Teach Social Skills

It's possible that your daughter is having trouble making friends because she is lacking appropriate social skills. It's important to model appropriate social behavior around your daughter, such as being considerate of others, since children tend to model their behavior after how they see their parents act. Teach your daughter about the importance of sharing with others, along with appropriate conflict resolution skills. Encourage her to work out conflicts through compromise, as opposed to using harsh language or violence with others.

Share Your Experience

If you were a bit of a loner growing up, tell your daughter about your personal experiences. Better Homes and Gardens' Health and Family section suggests that you share your experience with your daughter to let her know that she is not alone in this challenge. Tell her how you managed to cope with having no friends, and assure her that she will successfully make it through this difficult phase of life.

Empower Your Child

It may be tempting to solve your daughter's problem, but empowering her with the tools that she needs to handle this responsibility on her own will be more helpful in the long run. In an article for the Huffington Post, Dr. Jim Taylor, clinical associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver, states that allowing children to make their own decisions, within a reasonable context, prepares them for responsible decision-making in adulthood. Even if your daughter continues to have difficulties, encourage her and support her, but let her make the effort to find a friend. You can also create an environment where it may be easier for your daughter to make friends by signing her up for a class or activity she is interested in, giving her an opportunity to interact with other kids her age with similar interests.