Father: “My 14-year-old daughter is an introverted type. She has always found contacting a bit difficult. When she was still in primary school, she did play with neighborhood kids on the street. That has stopped now that she is going to secondary school.

“She has a few friends at school, with whom she says she does text, but she never meets with them after school or during holidays. In her spare time she’s on her phone unless we’re going to do something with her. When we express our concerns about this, she says that nothing is wrong. But if she’s been to hockey and seen girls there, she’s really blossomed. How can we encourage her to seek more contact?”

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give the time

Marga Akkerman: “Your 14-year-old daughter’s social world as you describe it applies to many of her peers. They mainly talk to each other at school. Going home together is a lot more difficult in secondary education than in primary school. Homework has to be done, there is sports training, often friends live far away. And resting from all this, a teenager also loves. This works best with your telephone, which you can use to maintain many contacts from the couch or from your own room.

“You often see that teenagers only start to feel the need for a more intensive social life from the age of 16, in connection with their sexual development. Give your daughter time to further develop her social curiosity. And maybe she’s a cat-from-the-tree watcher, who likes to see the situation before joining in. It takes a while for this type to come into its own in company.

“Make sure she has her own pocket money and clothing money to be able to do something with the other girls, eat an ice cream somewhere, go shopping. For the holidays you could propose a sailing camp, or a language camp abroad, everything is organized especially for children of this age.”

Little check

Tischa Neve: „Is this a problem for your daughter? It’s already a lot: high school, homework, sports training; many children have enough of that. They don’t even have to see friends after school.

“Start the conversation with your daughter, but do it out of interest, not concern. Ask how she likes school, how does she like the class, the classmates? If you ask her out of concern, children are quick to say, “Oh, I’m fine.” You can also ask if she is happy with how things are going, if she would like things to be different in her social life and with friends or not. An open conversation. You can also check her connection in class during 10-minute conversations at school. How do the teachers and/or the mentor see this? Does she have a nice connection at school, just like at hockey?

“You can help her a bit by, for example, coming up with something fun with her for her birthday, does she want to invite some people? Or let someone take you with you when you go out to eat or go out. But if she makes a happy impression, and otherwise functions well, I would trust that she will find her way.”