My step-daughter is very tolerant of other people, and kind-hearted. She is also quite mature for her age (11) and is not emotionally volatile like some of the other children in her class. I don't for any minute think my step-daughter is 'perfect', but her emotional maturity is definitely one of her strengths.

There is a girl in her class that is not very capable of making friends. She does not have a concept of personal space, and is constantly moving and jiggling around in front of people in their space. She is also very moody and sulky and will blow up or get offended easily. She speaks in a strange voice. Due to these issues, none of the girls at school want to hang out with her. Possibly she is on the spectrum or ADHD, and I do feel for her.

My step-daughter seems to be the only person in the class who is not nasty to her. This has meant the volatile girl has 'attached' herself to my stepdaughter, and will be at her side the whole day, in class and at recess/lunch, and including getting to our house early in the morning to walk to school (sometimes before we have even got out of bed!), and will walk home too. My step-daughter cannot get a break from her. She does not have much in common with the girl, and finds it difficult to be around her so much.

Having the volatile girl at her side at all times prevents my step-daughter being able to hang out with her other friends, as no-one else wants to be with the volatile girl.

I have thought about discussing with the girls mother, but there is no nice way that I can think of saying that my daughter needs space without offending the mother (and we live in a small town). I don't think the mother is the type with enough emotional maturity either for it to be a rational discussion with any beneficial solution. As many moms, I think she thinks its always her daughter in the 'right'. In a perfect world the mom would be able to train her daughter in some of the reasons why she is having difficulty making friends, but I can't see this happening, and I doubt the mom has much insight, as the mom also has few friends.

I have also spoken to the teacher, who has done nothing. She brushed it off and said she would sit them at different tables, however the unwanted friend keeps coming to my daughters table anyhow for help with work.

I've also thought of addressing the girl directly, but I have no clue how to do so.

How can help our daughter deal with this overwhelming 'friend' in a kind way? We want our daughter to maintain her other friendships that she had before this other girl attached herself. We think it is nice for our daughter to be kind and offer some friendship to the difficult girl, but not to the detriment of all others. We want our daughter to have some space, but (hopefully) also help the other girl grow or learn from the experience.


  • is there any chance you could organize some activities that include your daughter's friends and this girl? Try to pull her into regular group activities? It might help dilute the attachment to your daughter.
    – DaveG
    May 16, 2021 at 13:25
  • Hey peppa! Welcome to IPS :) I've given your question an edit, since asking 'what is the best approach' or whether a certain course of action is 'out of line' isn't really what this site is for, since both are considered primarily opinion based questions: Questions that are likely to invite opinions, instead of answers. You decide what is best, it's not up to us to give our opinions on that. So I've moved some stuff around, grouped the things you have thought of doing, and hopefully the last paragraph now reflects what you consider the best outcome for this situation.
    – Tinkeringbell
    May 16, 2021 at 18:22
  • Feel free to edit your post further if I at any point missed the mark in doing this, just please don't edit the off-topic questions back in :)
    – Tinkeringbell
    May 16, 2021 at 18:23

1 Answer 1


I've never been in the parent's shoes but I remember being 11 and having a few social issues. Probably my parents were somewhat worried I only ever had a single friend every time and would attach to them a lot as they were my only social link, but they never really told me so.

By that age, I was considered mature enough to handle this by myself. And I would probably have considered direct adult intervention to be out of the line. To be fair, I'm not really sure they could, as I was perfectly able to disobey and keep things secret.

I know I learned a lot from these friendships and sometimes experimented with my friend boundaries. Perhaps your daughter could use a bit of encouragement in saying no and setting up boundaries with that friend, it could be beneficial to both of them. To summarize what the source says you could approach your daughter with a situation she have trouble handling, role-play and ask her what she can try or do to face it.

If she is as mature as you say and need no help in that, then I'm not really sure you have anything to do. You're probably aware of this but as your daughter is preteen, she will progressively affirm herself through choices that could be different from yours. There is some litterature giving a rough idea how to balance autonomy for a child this age. When no risk is involved, it's worth reminding a few benefits of autonomy:

Kids need time apart to figure out who they are when no one is watching. That’s critical to developing a strong sense of self. Also, independence builds competency.

  • As often I struggle a bit to find quality sources so if you have good ones for autonomy of child aged 10-13. That would be great replacement for the one I have that is on topic but is a bit broad and not detailed enough to my taste.
    – Diane M
    May 21, 2021 at 18:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.