Dear Annie,

My daughter is starting high school and needs help in making, building and keeping healthy friendships. She came home in tears the last day of eighth grade, uninvited to various parties. She’s been in Girl Scouts since second grade with the same girls and she doesn’t seem to fit in with them outside of scouting (most go to the same school). In scouting she claims they leave her out often. She relates better with adults and kids older and younger than she is. During lunch she says no one lets her sit by them. She’s pretty, funny, witty, and smart. I just wish I understood why friends come in and out of her life, but don’t seem to stay.

Troubled Mom

Dear Troubled Mom,
It’s always troubling for me to hear that a child is being excluded (“no one lets her sit by them during lunch”) and that if the school is aware of this fact that they do nothing to remedy the situation. I realize kids have definite opinions about who is “acceptable” and who is not, but it makes my blood boil that students can get away with being so blatantly cruel to other students! Because she came home so upset on the last day of school, and there has been a pattern of her not being included by kids her age, have you had a conversation with the school counselor? Before the new school year starts you might seek out a recommendation for a local psychologist/therapist who specializes in working with teen girls. It may turn out that it would be beneficial for your daughter to have at least one session with a therapist.

Because you say that your daughter “relates better to adults and kids older and younger than she is,” I’m wondering if there might be opportunities for her to do some volunteer work in a child care center for younger kids. Many Parks and Recreation Departments offer such programs, and if your daughter is willing (and the program accepts her as a volunteer), I believe she could greatly benefit from being in a leadership position with younger children. In this way your daughter would gain some needed self-confidence that she could bring into high school with her.

You say she is “funny, witty, smart.” Is she into sports? Art? Theater? Reading? Writing? High school will offer many after-school activities that can be a new avenue for her to do what she loves while introducing her to other kids (from different middle schools) who share her interests.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

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