Ask an expert: My daughter’s friends are leaving her out – what can I do?

My 10-year-old daughter is being left out by her friends, and keeps getting upset about it, which upsets me. Is there anything I can do to help?

Parenting expert Tanith Carey, author of The Friendship Maze says: “At some point, every child will come home saying they’ve been left out at school. But if your child was once part of a group of friends, and now finds herself always on the sidelines, she may be being deliberately excluded.

“There are many possible reasons. It may be the child who has the most social status wants to redraw the walls of the clique. This may be because she sees your daughter as a rival, wants to flex her social muscles and your child is the easiest target, or your daughter has broken one of the unwritten rules of the gang, which could be anything from wearing the ‘wrong’ kind of school shoes to liking the ‘wrong’ pop band.

(iStock/PA)
(iStock/PA)

“Firstly, give lots of support. This is taking place within the social microcosm of school from which your daughter probably feels there’s no escape. The fear of being visibly alone at break or lunch may be so great that she may be nervous of going to school each morning.

“Next, lend her your perspective. Tell her about the times you were left out at school, you had fall-outs with friends and how it didn’t last forever. To help her understand what’s happened, explain how cliques work too. Researchers have found that whenever humans form groups they assign each other roles. In girls’ cliques, it can be anything from Queen Bee, to Sidekick, Messenger , Target or Wannabe.

“When you help your daughter work out where she fits in, she’ll realise being left out is mostly to do with clique politics, not how likeable she is.

“Rather than hang around waiting to be readmitted, it may also be time to help your daughter move on. Be supportive in your efforts to help her find new friends and set up play dates with others. And don’t forget to make sure your child sees her mates outside school, so she knows she’s still liked outside the fraught social hierarchy that grows in classrooms.

“Finally, set aside one-on-one time with her – so she feels both loved and valued by you. Remember you were her first friend and your child will get the main messages about how likeable she is directly from you.”

- Press Association

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