When Your Child... Is Upset Because a Friend Doesn't Respond
2-min. video | Open Door for Parents with Dr. Eileen
(173 sec.) Video transcript at bottom of this email.
(I’m experimenting with a different format this week, posting the video directly on Substack instead of YouTube. Is this easier for you?)
In the last weeks of summer, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, kids are focused on connecting or reconnecting with school friends. Messages fly, asking, “Which teacher do you have?” as kids try to anticipate their friendship landscape for the academic year.
This week’s video is about the common frustration of messaging and not hearing back from a friend.
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Hi! Welcome to Open Door for Parents where I share ways to support your child's feelings, friendships and mental health.
I'm Dr. Eileen.
Kids often feel hurt, angry, or rejected when they send a message to a friend and don’t get a response. They often think the friend is ignoring them on purpose. But there are lots of reasons why a friend might not be responding. What definitely won't help is firing off a bunch of demanding messages along the lines of: “Why aren’t you answering? Are you mad at me? Why are you being so mean?!”
This is kind of like a one-sided game of catch where your child is flinging a bunch of balls at the friend. The friend is likely to feel either annoyed or overwhelmed.
After sending a message, your child needs to wait, to give the friend a chance to respond. and maybe do something else to pass the time if a response doesn’t come right away.
To feel less frustrated about an unresponsive friend, your child can consider these questions:
Is the message something that really needs an answer right away?
Of course your child would like an immediate response, but most of the messages kids send each other are not urgent.
Did I write my message in a way that would make the friend want to respond?
(Mean messages are likely to make the friend want to stay away.)
Am I being respectful of my friend’s time and communication style?
It’s not fair to expect a friend to be instantly available whenever your child wants. The friend may have other things going on, like homework or a family activity.
Also, some friends would rather just talk in person. Being a good friend sometimes means accepting our friends the way they are rather than insisting that they have to do things our way.
If there is no response after a few hours or maybe a few days, your child could try messaging the friend again, maybe by sending something funny or inviting the friend to do something together. If that still gets no response, messaging probably isn’t a good way to reach this particular friend. Your child should pay attention to how the friend responds when they are together in person to see how the friendship is going.
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