Adolescent Psychiatrist Questions Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

How important is having friends?

My 12 year old daughter doesn't seem to have any friends. She does not seem upset by this at all but I worry. Should I take her to see a therapist?

13 Answers

I would suggest monitoring your daughters moods. Does she seem to get overly anxious about the idea of going to social events? Is she overly shy more with her peers than with adults? More information and communication that you have with you daughter about why she doesn't seem to have friends will open up answers as to if a parent should be more concerned than usual. Open and nonjudgmental communication with are teens is so important in building a healthy and lasting relationship.
I would refer you to a child psychiatrist to ask this question because child psychiatry falls outside my area of expertise. I wish you and your daughter well.
Having friends is important at every age. I would recommend taking your daughter to a therapist to determine if she is having self-esteem issues or suffering from depression and/or anxiety. I would also suggest getting her
involved in some activities where she can be part of a team or group effort. You may also want to talk to the school guidance counselor.
That is hard to say without knowing your family. If it truly does not bother her, I'm not sure a therapist would help, but I would be inclined to lean towards the side of having her seen to discuss and there are possibly some deeper issues and it is likely that a therapy session can do some good. I would discuss with your pediatrician
It is not usual to have no friends in this age group. You can take her to a psychologist that can help explore about this.
Don't worry, some children tend to be happier to themselves at certain ages. Depression and other disorders start to come about from her age to late teens and more. Just watch her in the next few years to see if she hides in her room and avoids people her own age or any other age.
I will trust your intuition on this. Friends serve as an important support system, especially during adolescence and yes, I definitely think that seeing a clinical psychologist is a good idea.
Hi! Yes. Social connections are Important. Her social isolation may be indicative of something else. For example, bullying or a social anxiety issue. Email me at
Hello and thank you for such an important question. At 12 years-old we anticipate that children will desire friendships and to socialize with her peers. When we don't see that we understandably get concerned. One thing to be aware of is, this generation does much of their communicating/socializing through phones/ipods/computers/tablets and we may not see that very often. If you are finding that she does not socialize at all, even with social media, then we need to do some investigation. Some of my first thoughts are, is she anxious around her peers? Does she feel uncomfortable, as if they may be harshly judging her. Do you see her avoid opportunities for socialization? Another question I would wonder is her actual desire for friendships. In your question, you stated that she does not "seem to be upset by this at all," but I would want to follow up with that. If you feel you do not get a better understanding of this situation, a therapist is a great place to start and have things evaluated and understood. Should you desire to contact me, please feel free at, 4430207-1809.
Take care and that was a great question!
Dr. C
It is unusual for a 12 year old girl to have no friends. Friends are an important part of our socialization process and also help us know more about ourselves. I would have to wonder about your daughter self-concept. I think a therapist could be very helpful in your daughters development.
She probably won't admit that it upsets her. As our children become adolescents, their friends become an extremely important part of their lives. Make sure she has opportunities to meet new kids and make friends: try girl scouts, sports, robotic clubs, etc. based on her interest. Having her see her pediatrician or a therapist to make sure she is not depressed is a very good idea. Talk to her about her day: classes, teachers, other kids, and see if an opportunity to make a new friend isn't already there.
Friends are important, but are found quite varyingly. Since there are no signs of distress, encouraging and setting an example seem appropriate enough.
Dear Are Friends Important,

Please understand this reply is for information only and does not constitute treatment.

For most people, having a group of friends that are close is important. The number of friends and how much time we spend with them differs from person to person. There is a pretty wide range in what is "normal" for folks from having a couple good friends to the "social butterfly", who knows just about everybody and hangs out with their friends every day.

In some cases, a kid may not have many friends because of a recent move, change in school, or shift in interests away from where most of their friends were (left an organized sports team). With these shifts, it can take some time to develop a new set of friends. In other cases, a kid may have a couple close friends they see primarily at school, but who live far away, so are unavailable to come to the house outside of school. These friends may not be obvious to parents who don't spend the school day with their child.

These are different from the child who has not really had any close friendships for most of their life and seem uninterested in developing them. If your daughter is interested in friends, but doesn't know how to go about it, then structured social skills help through school or an outside therapist might be appropriate. Therapists and evaluating psychologists often try to determine whether social isolation is because of peer rejection or lack of interest from the child. These two situations are often approached differently.

Have you talked with your daughter about whether she has friends you aren't aware of and if not, whether she wants to make some friends? If she is not interested, it is usually hard to force this onto a kid and maybe not helpful. If the child expresses some interest, structured activities like sports, dance classes, or special interest clubs can put them into contact with kids who like the same things they do. Friendships may develop simply out of contact with peers who have similar interests.

Given that you have expressed worry about her seeming lack of friends, it may be appropriate for you to consult with a child and family therapist to discuss your concerns with a professional. If you chose to talk with a counselor, they might be able to help you determine whether the concerns are minimal or if some next steps could be indicated.


Todd Koser, Psy.D.
NJ & PA Licensed Psychologist