Teenage girl being ignored by group of friends sitting on stairs

“How can I get them to like me? Why aren’t they my friend?”

Has your child ever said these words? It isn’t nice to explain that another child doesn’t want to be their friend, despite projecting attention onto them and it not being reciprocated. It can hurt your child’s feelings and their self-esteem. Your child might think, “Why don’t they want to be my friend and what does that say about me?” They can’t understand why someone is not being nice to them and may even try harder with them. Understanding the dynamics of friendships and the way others work will teach children about different personality types and putting boundaries around friendships.

Parents need to treat the issue delicately when discussing this with their child. Help them see that they have other friends and that it’s no big deal if the desired friend doesn’t want to play with them. There is usually a reason – maybe they have other friends they have more in common with. Or maybe they like to play a particular way and it is not the same way your child likes to play. Perhaps they don’t find your child fun or easy to be around or share any common interests.  It may be simply that they aren’t looking for any new friends!

Understanding Friends and Building Friendships

Parents can help their child with this issue by using the following tips:

  • Show your child who they already have in their own life and encourage them to be happy with the friends they have, rather than those they don’t have.
  • Help them to be friendly towards this child but not over-friendly. A friendship may grow over time but shouldn’t be forced.
  • Be friendly but teach them not to appear desperate. No begging to play with that child or people pleasing them to keep them happy. That only encourages an unhealthy friendship.
  • Help shift their focus away and onto other friends and activities. Keep them busy and encourage them to see that whilst new friends are always welcome, their life is busy and full anyway.
  • Teach your child to recognise being taken advantage of. If they see it and know someone isn’t treating them well, encourage them to have the strength to walk away.

Friendships can be difficult as children grow, so parents can help by guiding them through. Has your child ever wanted to be friends with someone who isn’t very interested? How did you deal with it? I’d love to hear from you – just pop a comment under my blog or social media channels.

Alternatively, a lot of my work as a life coach for children is around friendships, so if you would like your child to receive some help from me in this area, please give me a call on 07961 312 749.

Read more on Children’s Friendships

Find all my blogs on children and friendship



We all need friends to talk to, have fun with, share experiences and be a shoulder to cry on. Without them, we would be very lonely. This eBook gives parents tools to help their children make and nurture good friendships and understand how they work best.

Cost for Individual download £2.50 Add to Cart


[Originally published January 2020 – Updated April 2024]