11/15/2010 03:31 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Should a mom worry about her daughter making friends?


Dear Irene,

My 7-year-old daughter, soon to be 8, seems to be having some problems, and I am not sure how concerned I should be. I have two daughters; the younger one is 6. Even while writing this I am thinking, they are babies, but I do have concerns about my older daughter.

She doesn't seem to have any close friends. She is in second grade, and no one ever invites her over, and there is no one she has invited over. When we go out in the community, kids know her, and say hi to her. She has labeled herself as a tomboy and seems intent on following that stereotype. Please believe this is nothing that we have put on her. I think that she is only trying to distance herself from her sister.

My 6-year-old is a social butterfly. The phone rings a lot for her, and she has been invited to several, small group sleepovers and parties. My older daughter only gets invited if the entire class is invited. She has never had a sleepover. She has latched on to my younger daughter and er friends.

She seems completely unaware of society's rules, or does not care at all. I believe it is already affecting how the girls in her grade see her. I don't want her to be something she is not, but I don't want her to ostracize herself at such a young age. She is smart, creative, artistic, and sensitive, while my younger daughter is more "la, la, la." Please advise on how I can help her, with out making her feel like something is wrong with her. Should I take her to counseling?



Dear Fran,

Like adults, children differ in their interests and friendship styles. Some kids are people magnets; others prefer more alone time or time with siblings. All children, even siblings, differ from one another in the rates at which they mature.

If your daughter is happy and seems to be doing well in school, I'm not sure that anything is "broken" simply because she is a tomboy or because she likes playing with your younger daughter and her friends. Although she is chronologically older, since she is less outgoing by nature, she is probably picking up social skills from her younger sister (the social butterfly) that will serve her well.

Whenever a parent is worried about a child, it is prudent to talk to someone objective who has more experience with children that age than you do. In this case, I would ask for a meeting with your daughter's teacher and see if she can allay your anxieties. I'm sure if she thinks something is wrong, she will let you know.

Hope this helps.


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Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Her recent book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, was published by Overlook Press. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog and at