Dear American Girl,

There's a girl in my class I'd like to be friends with. She seems very nice and sweet, but she's shy and keeps to herself a lot. I've tried to draw her out, but she still clams up whenever I talk to her. Is there a way I can help this girl feel comfortable so that we can become friends?
-New friend?

Here's your advice:

Since this girl is so shy, this friendship needs to happen gradually. Ask her to sit with you at lunch or pair up with her for a school project. Eventually, she may open up more to you. She might not be as outgoing as your other friends, but if she clams up, be patient and you just might find a pearl.
-Liana, age 12, Colorado

Don't make this girl feel insecure by saying something such as "You never talk!" Instead, sit with her at lunch and ask questions, but don't overload her with too many. Talk to her and invite her to do things with you so that she knows you want to be friends.
-Ria, age 11, California

Be nice to this girl and she may come around. If she still clams up, ask her questions that aren't too personal, such as "What did you think of that test?" or "How's your dog doing?" Eventually she may want to talk more, but let her decide to do it at her own pace.
-Charlotte, age 12, Massachusetts

If a conversation makes her close up, try saying a few nice words to her in passing on your way to your next class. Give this girl some time, and she might warm up to you.
-Jessica, age 12, Michigan

Maybe this girl has had friendship troubles in the past and tends to be shy around other girls. You could talk to her during a time when you're both alone and not around other people. If you take the friendship slowly, chances are you'll become friends.
-Christina, age 13, Colorado

How about asking this girl about things she likes and what her favorite hobbies are? I know I always feel comfortable when I talk about things I love.
-Alejandra, age 12, Florida

The best thing to do is to be natural around this girl and not force the friendship. If you talk to her more often little by little, you might become friends before you know it.
-An American Girl fan, age 9, New Jersey

Invite this girl to do something with you outside of class. Maybe she doesn't feel comfortable at school.
-Abigail, age 12, Wisconsin

Try to include this girl when you do things with your friends. If you're playing a game during recess, ask her if she wants to play. For a group activity in your classroom, see if she wants to join in. Even if she says no, at least you made the effort.
-Megan, age 10, Florida

Keep talking to this girl. She may enjoy listening rather than talking.
-Greta, age 12, Minnesota

Have you noticed any interests that this girl has? Maybe she wears a shirt that represents her favorite soccer team or band. Something like that can be a clue to a great conversation starter.
-Olivia, age 11, New York

This girl might be afraid to open up because she doesn't want you to "blab" her secrets and personal stuff. Invite her over so that the two of you can hang out. Then she might see that you're trustworthy and would be a good friend.
-Grace, age 12, Minnesota

Start with a nice complement, such as saying, "That headband is so cute." It might get her talking.
-Ally, age 12, Colorado

I'm a shy person, too. When new people approach me, I feel as if I'm going to say the wrong thing. Maybe you can strike up a conversation with this girl by being friendly or telling a joke. Keeping things light might help her feel comfortable.
-An American Girl fan, age 10, Wisconsin

See if you have similar interests. For example, if you catch her doodling, say, "That's really good. I like to draw, too." Then follow up with a question such as, "What is your favorite thing to draw?" Finding something in common might break the ice.
-Kateliyn, age 12, Ohio

Sometimes the best way to make a friend is to keep it simple. The next time you see this girl, just smile and say hello. You don't need to rush things.
-Kaleigh, age 11, Oregon

I had a similar experience. I wanted to be friends with a girl, but she never seemed to want to talk to me, so I thought she didn't like me. But I kept trying, and eventually she opened up to me. It turned out that her parents were having problems and one of her family members had recently passed away. She was just having a hard time. After that, we became friends. My advice is to keep trying—you never know what's going on in someone's life.
-Kenzie, age 12, Alaska

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