9Yo Has No Friends at School...

Updated on September 01, 2012
J.A. asks from San Francisco, CA
18 answers

Hi parents,
My 9 year old daughter just entered the 4th grade. She has been at the same school since kindergarten, but over the last few years all of her friends have left to other schools. Now she is having a really hard time connecting with other kids in her grade.
She is a very unique kid-very creative, loves to read and play pretend. She is not interested in playing sports, boys, or pop culture icons.
I am really worried about her not having friends at school. She tells me she just reads at recess because she doesn’t have anyone to play with. She is not being picked on or bullied, just kind of ignored.
She is generally very well liked, but kind of odd. My heart is just breaking for her. It feels so awful to be alone and isolated amongst a group of peers. I have tried setting up playdates with other families, but not with a lot of success.
Her school is a k-8, and I’m especially worried about her continued isolation as she moves in to middle school.
We had the opportunity to move her to a different school, but we like her teacher a lot, and I can’t feasibly send her and her brother to two different schools.
Any advice is greatly appreciated!!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Tulsa on

If she is not upset, don't make her by talking about it. I would join scouts, 4h, or art class. One or two friends will make a huge difference.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

About age 10 I drifted, too. Never had a single friend in middle school, high school or college. I was a creative type who loved to read and write. Went on to get advanced degrees. But all the social relations expected in school? Not for me.
Is that bad? Maybe not. Maybe. I don't know, but it's who I've always been.

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

Your daughter has to be the one to try and reach out to others. She is choosing to read a book during recess then going over to the swings. The simple act of putting down the book and watching people will help. When kids see another kid reading during playtime, they are more likely to not go over and bother them. If the kid is sitting there, looking around, taking it all in, then other kids are more likely to go over and ask her to join in.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Sometimes you have to teach your kids how to be social. My daughter is 11 and I have to teach her how to go up to other kids. I have to help her on what to say to get it going. Once she's made it through the initial stage of getting to know someone, her true personality comes out and she's fine! But those first steps are hard.

You might have to role-play with her. Use dolls or pretend to be the other child.

Does your school have any club she would be interested in? Art Club? Battle of the Books? I was a shy girl and my mom pushed me to join lots of different clubs that fit my interests. Theater, Battle of the Books, etc. Check your local library too.

Your daughter may need a push to make new friends. I did. But it was worth it! The best thing is to start with a club that fits her interests. From there she can meet other kids and friendships can grow. It doesn't have to be sports!

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Is she happy being alone?
I ask because I spent three years doing 4th/5th grade yard duty and every year there were two or three girls like this, sitting alone, reading, daydreaming, wondering around the perimeter of the blacktop. They always looked so sad to me, but the more I got to know them I realized they weren't really sad at all. They just couldn't connect with what the other kids were into, they were more cerebral and mature, which is not a bad thing!
We always kept an eye on them, and tried to engage them as much as possible, but more often than not they preferred to be alone.
So talk to your daughter about it. Ask her if she really likes being alone at recess and go from there. You might also want to sign her up for some outside of school activities, just to widen her circle of potential friends. If she's not into sports you could try Girl Scouts, martial arts/dance or an art or drama class, whatever she's into. Ultimately that's how we make friends, by connecting with people who share the same interests :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

San Fran is a big city, maybe they have a kid's book club with a get together?

Suggest she look around when the class has library time, see what other kids are checking out or returning, she can approach someone who's chosen a book she's already ready or one that looks interesting for her to read next (good conversation starters). Maybe she can even see if the librarian can suggest someone who has a large check out roster? Not sure if that's allowed or not. Just an idea.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think other kids would play with her if they knew she was interested. Usually the kids that isolate themselves are left alone.

Our school has started having parents volunteer at recess where they lead games like 4 square, etc. Nothing terribly athletic, just fun games (jumprope, walking around playground, etc.

Maybe you could volunteer and get your dd involved that way.

Does your school have girl scouts? Book club? I run the book club for my dd's school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

If your daughter really does want to play with someone tell her to look for another child that is not playing with anyone. Someone who is just playing by herself on the swings or someone who sits on the bus by themself for example. Make sure she knows how to start a conversation and if she doesn't then role play with her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Get her involved in some craft classes - painting, pottery, sewing, knitting/crochet, etc.
Girl Scouts
She may not like sports, but I still think taekwondo is a good idea.
Is SHE upset about it, or are you projecting your anxiety into the situation?
Some kids just don't run with a pack and they like being loners.
It's ok to be different and it's wonderful to be a late bloomer.
Not every girl keys into pop culture and boys (thank goodness) till they are older (middle school, high school, sometimes college).
With my son, maturity wise he was always ahead of his age group, so all through elementary school he got along with people, but he didn't have any close friends.
Now that he's in middle school (6-8 here, he's starting 8th grade next week) - his peers have caught up to where he's been for years and he is now a popular guy.
Heck, if your girl were 4 years older, and we were on similar coasts, I'd love for our kids to meet.
Your daughter sounds like a lovely level headed person and she sounds fine to me!
Enjoy her!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Is she unhappy? I know this is hard for you to see her go through, but how does she feel about the situation? If she is unhappy and sad I would consider moving both of them to a new school so she can start fresh. I recall 4th and 5th grade being positively awful - thats when the girls start to become the mean girls and clicks form, and the clicks usually hang around for years and years to come. Lots of the girls are maturing so fast and are becoming "tweens" already and probably are totally into sports boys and pop culture stuff, so she probably is having a hard time connecting with them. I think its great she is not into all the pop culture mess, but maybe it would help her to find some sort of club or sport she can relate to. Does not have to be mainstream, just anything that she finds interesting could get her in touch with kids she has more in common with. I would try hard to figure out how she is really feeling and go from there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Well... here's an outside the box possible solution.

We homeschooled for 5 years (I am NOT suggesting homeschooling, but it's another option)...

Most of my son's SOCIALIZING happened in the evening and night. Why? Because around here public/private schools go from 8am-4pm. And THEN most families are dual income. Which means daycare from 4pm-6pm.

And most of his friends were in public/private school.

He had TONS of friends. Just not from school.

- Drama class
- Sports
- Scouts
- etc.

You've said your daughter is gifted with having serious interests at an age most kids don't, and that sets her apart (yes, I'm rephrasing). Which can make her odd-girl-out. This is likely to be a continual problem, as her interests, while not unusual (artsy & bookish ... Yeah! MY kinda girl!), usually continue while other girls start getting very boring (boy crazy).

Drama Class (playing pretend).

Around here there are Saturday classes through the Seattle Children's Theatre, as well as school break camps (we did both, even though we were homeschooling, that's when the camps were offered!), Bathhouse Theatre, Seattle Rep, Seattle Rep, etc.

There are less expensive options (community centers, etc.), BUT if you're low on funds... DO check with SF's theatres that offer children's acting, writing, production classes. Because after the scholarships my son got, it was LESS expensive to be taking classes through real theatres with amazing pros... than the cheaper (in all ways) community center options.

Acting may not be her schtick (although if she's the "leader" of pretend games AND a reader... she may very well 'duck in water' as a director or screenwriter.

The DramaCrowd in most highschools is as sought out after as the Varsity SportsCrowd. And it's MOSTLY made up of the 'elementary odd balls' who were still doing "baby" stuff (<grin> like playing pretend!!!).

She might HATE theatre. But it's an option. So is:

- Art (visual if she's not into performance art; painting, photography, clay, glass, textile.... TONS of art options)
- Scouts
- Science
- Languages

SOMETHING. Something outside of school hours that she can go to 1x-5x a week that gets her into a group of kids that like the same things SHE likes.

Otherwise... it's just luck.

I moved all the time growing up. Sometimes I was MissPopular!!! and other times I was Loner/Loser! Same kid. It's just that in some schools there were a lot of people "like" me (or who wanted to be like me), and in other schools, there weren't. It's PURE LUCK whether or not the composition of a class/school makes someone a superstar or an outcast or just lost in the shuffle. Whether you have 1 friend that is so wonderful the rest of the school could fall off the face of the planet, or 100 friends, or are all by yourself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree with Megan, I think your daughter is sort of choosing this. I was a bookworm as a child too, and I hardly had any friends until I was in 7th or 8th grade. I just wanted to read all the time. My eight-year-old daughter loves sports, is very social, and has lots of friends (despite the fact that she's pretty self-conscious about her weight). So I do think it's sort of in her control. A new school wouldn't help if she kept the same habits. Does she want more friends, or do you want her to have more friends? My best friend has never had friends, usually only 1 friend at a time (I've been pretty much her only friend for 15 years) and she likes it that way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Megan C from Manassas has a point.
I too have one of those creative, isolated, beauties. He never reached out, he preferred to keep to himself. My heart broke too, but these are arenas they have to sort out themselves. We can advise them and perhaps sugest and make playdates for them, but if they are not receptive, regardless of what you try, it will not work. She's 9, give her some time, you'd be amazed at how perceptive they are at this age, she knows what she wants in a friends and it is possible, no one at her school has what she is looking for. In the interim, why don't you sign her up for art classes, acting classes or music classes so that she could perhaps meet other children with similar interests to her own. Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

sounds like my daughter. The book is just a way to avoid social contact when she is unsure of her place. If it is a one on one thing, she will connect and play just fine, but if there are 2 or more kids already playing, she will refuse to join in and will sit behind her book. She also hates getting sweaty. Oddly, I thought she was a wallflower because she says she has no friends, but the teachers have always looked at me like I am crazy and I saw lots of kids surrounding her at camp asking her to play. She just doesn't know how to build a connection. She started a new school this week and we role played how to start up a conversation with other kids and how to join in the group. She told me that the first day she just wanted to bring a book to recess instead of playing with others. I told her to leave the book in the classroom and try to socialize. She hit it off with another girl that is sort of a loner and isn't interested in meeting other kids right now. I know it is hard, but my suggestion is to put her in activities where she can become comfortable with other kids and to role play with her. The rest is up to her.



answers from New York on

My oldest had the problem that the girls in her class where not the type of girls you'd want your daughter to hang out with. Foul language, smoking (cigarettes/pot), multiple boyfriends, cutting class, etc. She was teased about being "a nerd" because she didn't do those things. She knew she was doing what was right and even though the teasing (and it got worse in 8th grade) bothered her, she came out on top because she was the one who was honored at graduation and made a top notch school. Her friends from the elementary school weren't in her class, but they began to "change" also. My youngest is kind of ignored because she doesn't watch Jersey Shore, Glee, and go to the local club on teen/tween night. (These kids are only 12-14 and the pics they post on their face books are unreal!!!) She also knows she's living a respectful lifestyle and that's best for her. Her 2-3 friends are in a different class also. I try to have the other 2-4 girls over to swim, do a
movie night (make popcorn, paint nails, style each other's hair), or take them bowling, to the park, to the beach, etc. Quite honestly, if I don't offer the kids don't get together. Sadly, the other moms don't care if their kids just sit and play on the computer or jump rope on the sidewalk.
I decided to enroll them in some local activities and they thrived and made lots of "friends", but the majority of parents weren't interested in continuing "friendships" outside of the particular activity. A lot of the moms I made friends with have boys, so that was a problem too.

Perhaps you can try library programs(they might do a book club-since she likes reading), girl scouts, or even approach the school administration. Someone told me they had success when they spoke to the school AP about after school programs. Once the school allowed kids to stay after and play in the gym (do whatever they decided on those days), her daughter connected with kids as shy as her. Even working/volunteering at VBS (the church wasn't even our religion, but was open to everyone) helped my kids socially.

I wish you the best of luck and please let us know if anything helps :))


answers from Phoenix on

My daughter is "odd" also. She has Asperger's Syndrom which is a social disorder. I believe you need to teach your daughter to be interested in other kids, even if they are different than she is. My daughter tends to only focus on and talk about what interests HER. We have had to explain to her that she needs to also be interested in what other kids like and do so she can have friends. They have a program at her school that helps her (and other kids with the same issue) figure out how to fit in better socially. She also had this in elementary school. So maybe ask the school if they have a group for kids that need help socially or work with her yourself. Just my opinion. Good luck!



answers from New York on

oh poor girl but i know how it goes my daughter was like that till she hit high school she had no friends till she hit high school know she has loads sum from chess,cheerleading , softball , netball and the lisit goes on dont be to worreid but if things do move on next year and she still dont have friends u might have to think - just think about moving her to another school or homeschooling her till she hits middle school then put her back in her old school also invole her in girls scouts my daughter went through girls scouts and made friends not from her school but she made friends i hope the bestest luck for u and your daughter i give u my wishies



answers from Sacramento on

So, you don't mention how she feels about this. Is it making her unhappy? Perhaps she's fine with sitting and reading rather than playing with the other kids. It does sound like the 'problem' may be that she just isn't all that social herself and that if she wanted to put out the effort, the other kids might be friends with her. I'm not trying to be critical of your daughter. I understand, because I wasn't the most social kid in school either.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions