Q. I recently saw my 11-year-old's texts to her friend about all the "cool people." When I asked about them, she started bawling and talking about this girl who's really pretty and has tons of friends. She said that when they're all IMing, sometimes they ignore her. How can I help? —JMOM11
A. There's no easy way to say this. Your daughter is hyperfocused on the popular girls and they think she's desperate. In their minds the neediness justifies avoiding her or even being mean. Your job is to help your child understand her own motivations. So ask her these questions: Even if those girls started to be kind online, is it possible they still wouldn't talk to her in person? Would that work for her? Why or why not? What if they were friendly one week, cold the next? Would that be okay? Ideally, she'll realize that even if the girls pay attention to her, the relationships might be far from acceptable. What makes this so hard as a parent is that your daughter probably won't see the light and decide to hang out only with people who consistently treat her well. Instead, it's likely that the girls will totally reject her before she learns they aren't worth it.
Originally published in the July 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.