What to Do if Your Tween Feels Left Out

Help a Child Who Feels Isolated

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Growing up is full of challenges but the tween years can be particularly difficult for children. During the tween years, children are constantly evaluating their status with peers, and that often leads to bad behavior as tweens juggle for social top spots, often times ignoring, bullying or leaving out others, even former friends.

If your child is receiving the cold shoulder at school from friends, former friends or from classmates, it could make for difficult times at home. And to make things worse, your child is older now, and fixing their problems aren't as easy as they used to be. Let's face it, a cookie and a smile can only get you so far these days. With that in mind, the suggestions below should help you perk up a child who's feeling left out by peers.


If your child complains about being left out, try not to act too quickly. Parents sometimes rush in too quickly to try and save the day. It's possible that your tween is going through a temporary challenge that can be worked out without your help. Listen to what your child is saying, and offer up support and sympathy. Keep tabs on the situation and try to gather information from other sources, such as other parents or your child's siblings. If the behavior continues, it might be time to consider other options. If your tween's social problems continue it could negatively impact your child's self-esteem. 

Offer Suggestions

Children don't mature according to a strict schedule, and sometimes children who are late to mature feel left out by those who are moving on. If your child falls into this category, it's no wonder he's feeling left out by friends who are changing and developing other interests.

If your child is really feeling isolated and alone, you have to intervene. Help your child find activities and interests where they can meet other children like them. Helping them broaden their circle of friends will provide comfort on those days when they're feeling left out or left behind by others. Find social activities outside of school to help your child increase their social circle.

Friendships come and go during the middle school years. Your child's best friend one year might not be there for her the next. But don't be surprised if old friends resurface in a few years.

Endorse Independence

All tweens feel isolated at one time or another, it's all a part of growing up. While peer acceptance is important to tweens, it's also alright for them to embrace their independent side. Point out characters from books or movies that go their own way and don't worry about whether or not they're popular or a part of the crowd. You can also help your child consider hobbies or activities that they can do alone, such as music, noncompetitive sports or other individual activities.

Open Your Home

Make it easy for your child to invite new friends over to your home, either for a sleepover or for a few hours on the weekend. Be sure you're opening your home to your child's friends so that you can get to know them and know how your child interacts with them. Give the children a place to hang out, watch movies, or play games and chill.

Make Time Together

Your child wants friends his own age, but that doesn't mean that you no longer matter. Be sure you spend alone time with your tween and that you make time for fun together. Sometimes a little family fun can take your child's mind off of his troubles, at least temporarily.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Krauss S, Orth U, Robins RW. Family environment and self-esteem development: A longitudinal study from age 10 to 16. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2019; doi:10.1037/pspp0000263

  3. Davis SK, Nowland R, Qualter P. The role of Emotional Intelligence in the Maintenance of Depression Symptoms and Loneliness Among ChildrenFront Psychol. 2019;10:1672. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01672

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.