(Would you rather read? A TRANSCRIPT is at the bottom of this post.)
Tara wonders what to do when a friend becomes less interested in hanging out with the group.
Scroll down for some DISCUSSION QUESTIONS you can share with your child, plus how to submit your child’s question.
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I've put together a Fall Friendship Bundle of three webinars and other written resources to help you help your child build strong and caring friendships.
Here's what's in the Fall Bundle:
1) Friendship Skills – for Kids! (ages 6-12)
My best-selling webinar on friendship teaches kids five important skills: Reaching out to make friends, Stepping Back to keep friends, Blending in to join with friends, Speaking Up to share with friends, and Letting Go to accept friends.
2) Friendship in the Digital Age
My live presentation to parents on how digital media affects children's communication and socialization. It looks at video game playing, cyberbullying, and social media "depression," and compares them with in-person experiences.
3) Making Up and Breaking Up with Friends - Q&A session
Children's friendships often hit snags; misunderstandings, disagreements, and hurt feelings are common but often painful experiences. I answer questions from parents about how to help kids cope with conflict.
Until Sept. 30, 2023, the Fall Friendship Bundle is available for only $70. That's $17 off compared to buying the webinars individually. You'll be able to watch the webinars at your convenience. You'll also get brand new written notes plus a companion guide to help you remember and use the tips. Click the button below to learn more!
Please help the podcast grow!
I can’t do it alone. If you love the Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic podcast, please help it continue and grow by sending in your child’s question about friendship and by asking your friends to submit their children’s questions. Here are the instructions:
Adults, please use your smartphone's memo function or an audio app to record your child's question. Hold the phone close to your child's mouth to make sure the recording is clear. Have your child state:
1) their FIRST NAME (or another name),
2) their AGE, and
3) a BRIEF QUESTION or concern about friendship. (Please do not include any friends' names.)
Email the audio file to DrF@EileenKennedyMoore.com. I’ll answer as many questions as I can. (Obviously, this is not psychotherapy, and it’s not for emergency situations.)
Think About It Questions to discuss with your child
Have you ever switched friendship groups? What led to that change? How did it work out? To what extent did you stay in touch with your previous friend group?
Were you surprised to learn how often kids’ friendships don’t last a full school year? Why or why not? What are some reasons why friends might grow apart?
What are two things you should definitely NOT do when you sense a friend is pulling away?
Why does Dr. Friendtastic recommend talking to the leaning-away friend one-on-one? Why might that work out better than having the whole group confront this friend?
Have you ever reconnected with a friend after you grew apart? What led to you reconnecting?
Hi, there! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.
Let’s hear today’s question:
My name’s Tara, and I’m in 7th grade, and I'm wondering, what should you should you do if one friend starts to kind of lean away from the group?
Hi, Tara, thank you for sending in this question! It sounds like your friend is less interested in being part of your group than she was before. It also sounds like you’re not sure why this is happening, and you might be feeling confused, hurt, angry, or rejected.
We all like the idea of best friends forever, but scientists have found that changes in friendships are common for kids. Among first graders, half of friendships don’t last a whole school year. Among fourth and eighth graders, one out of every four friendships doesn’t make it through a school year.
There are a lot of reasons why a friendship might fizzle. Sometimes there’s a big blow-up, but more often the end of a friendship involves a gradual fade. Kids are constantly growing and changing, and sometimes it just happens–through no one’s fault–that friends grow apart.
Maybe you and your friend have different interests now. That could make hanging out together less fun.
Maybe your friend is super busy or stressed, or in different classes, or on a different sports team, so you just don’t see each other as much anymore.
Maybe you’ve been super busy and your friend thinks you’re not as interested in being friends anymore, so she’s hanging back.
Maybe there was some misunderstanding, and she thinks your group doesn’t want her around, or maybe there’s been some change in your group that makes it less fun or less comfortable for her to hang out.
Maybe your friend has made some new friends, and she’s trying to divide her time between your old group and the new group. She still likes you, but she also wants to be with the new friends.
So, how can you handle this, especially when you don’t know why she’s leaning away? Well, there are a few things you should definitely NOT do. You should definitely not tell everyone she’s mean or stuck up. That’s not kind, and it’s probably not true.
Even though you might feel hurt or angry, you also should definitely not yell at her. That’s not going to make her want to hang out more with you!
What you could do, if you want to repair the friendship, is approach her one-on-one–so she doesn’t feel ganged up on–and ask her about it. You could say, “I’ve noticed you haven’t been hanging out with the group as much lately. What’s going on?”
Now, maybe she’ll tell you about a problem, and you could fix it or explain something to work things out. But she might just say something vague to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
Either way, if you want to rebuild the friendship, tell her how much she means to you. You could say, “I miss you” or “I care about you” or “Our friendship matters a lot to me.”
Then invite her to do something fun with you or with the whole group. Having fun together could rebuild your connection and help her remember why she enjoyed being with you before.
If she says no, that’s okay. Your invitation says you want to reconnect. Maybe she’ll respond by inviting you some time, or maybe she’ll rejoin your group later. You could wait a week or two and invite her again. If she says no to three invitations, let it go. Be friendly when you see her, but give her time and space to come to you.
I don’t know if the distance you’re sensing with your friend is a temporary break, a longer-term cooling, or a full break-up. But if this friendship was good before, try to leave the door open to reconnecting by being friendly when you see her.
This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question.
And be sure to check out my books for kids about friendship: Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, and my new book, Growing Feelings: A Kids’ Guide to Dealing with Emotions About Friends and Other Kids. They’re available through your library or wherever you buy books.