“Dear Bec, My daughter has been dumped by her friendship group …”
EMAIL FROM A READER: My daughter was dumped by her friendship group …
I was given your website from a lovely lady at work.
She has no friends of late and is having panic attacks going to school as she had a major fall out with friends, she thought were her friends, one being her best friend from birth who has turned on her.
I am getting her help at head space but not helping yet and I have her on happy calm ( natural anxiety relief ). The past holidays she stayed in her room with no friend catch ups, I cry a lot at night worrying.
I was wondering what the best way is to help her.
**** I have since spoken to this mum and the friendship group have simply dumped her daughter for being ‘too quiet’ (read: boring). They have excluded her from sleepovers and all catch-ups with no real explanation. Can I gently suggest that you if you notice YOUR own tween or teen has suddenly dumped a friend and is excluding them – that you get curious and chat to them about what’s going on? This behaviour is incredibly hurtful for the child being excluded.
I can hear your stress and worry in your email.
The first thing I need to emphasise is that I’m not an expert. Dealing with something like panic attacks — you want to be getting advice from a professional who can help your daughter with that.
If you’re struggling to get an appointment to see a counsellor or psychologist, useful resources for anxiety include
New Access Mental Health Coaching from Beyond Blue This is free mental health coaching for TEENS or ADULTS who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate anxiety or depression. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/…/newaccess-mental-health…
Maggie Dent: Calming Teen Anxiety
The phenomenally popular Maggie Dent – former teacher, counsellor and educator – shares strategies and resources to help parents of anxious teens. Cost: $30
This is another free online program but this time it’s for the KIDS/TEENS to do online. The Brave Program has been developed by the University of Queensland .
Karen is an Australian psychologist whose website offers free advice for kids, teens and adults on managing anxiety. Her children’s picture books are EXCELLENT and I have known teenagers who have found them useful in understanding their anxiety. https://www.heysigmund.com/
Okay … a few tips on dealing with the friendship aspect of all this ..
1. Does she have friends OUTSIDE of school you can connect her with? It’s really important for teens to have friends outside of the school bubble so that when school friendships implode (which they do at some point) – they have other people in their life reminding them that they’re likeable. Family friends. Primary school friends. Cousins. Friends from sport / drama / church / art class / dance class. Cultivating outside of school friendships is key. And if she doesn’t have any — start thinking about activities she could join which might help her to meet like-minded people.
2. Double check with your daughter that she hasn’t done something that offended her old friendship group. Is an apology in order? Has your daughter done something to this group that warrants her offering a sincere apology? Understanding how to apologise properly (and not justify your behaviour) is really important and it can help repair and even strengthen friendships. (It may be your daughter has done NOTHING wrong and this is a really awful group of girls who have just started excluding her for no reason other than she’s quiet.)
3.. I have a webinar on how to repair friendships which might help https://rebeccasparrow.com/repair-friendships/
4. . Identifying groups with a ‘vacancy’ sign …
She might want to start searching for that group of kids who are open to new people sitting with them. Some groups (sadly) are closed to new people and others are open and very relaxed about new people floating over to them. Every grade has a group who allow people to come and go — they tend to be a very relaxed, friendly groups. See if your daughter can identify that group at school. It would give her people to sit with at lunch time if she’s feeling lonely.
5. Get her moving on mornings or weekends. See if you can get her outside for a walk. Start taking her on long walks on the weekend or to the beach. Nature is wonderful for our mental health.
6. Giving back – get her baking on the weekend or at night to donate to the staff at the RSPCA or a police station etc. Doing good deeds for others helps get us out of our own problems.
7. Briony Benjamin has a wonderful journal called Life Is Tough But So Are You which could be great for her to write in https://www.booktopia.com.au/…/book/9781922616388.html…
And remind her that this will pass. It will. If she could step back and look at her life like it’s a movie — this would be the big moment when the mean friendship group dump her and then … she’s forced out of her comfort zone and she finds her tribe.
She can do this.
Finally you can try watching my webinar The Friendship Reset together which might also help. help.https://rebeccasparrow.com/friendship-reset/
I leave you with the wise words of Rebecca Campbell … ‘You are not for everyone’ from her book Light Is The New Black.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.