Dear American Girl,

There's a girl who wants to play with me every day at recess. She and I aren't close friends, but I play with her because she's nice. The only problem is, when I want to do things with my other friends, she gets upset. One time she even cried. I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I want to spend time with my good friends. What should I do?
-Recess Mess

Here's your advice:

Why not introduce her to your friends? Then you can all play together and no one will feel left out.
-Elena, age 12, South Africa

Maybe you should try to get to know this girl better in a non-recess setting, such as at your house or a park after school. That way, you won't feel distracted by wanting to play with your other friends.
-Kayley, age 11, North Carolina

There's probably a reason why this girl is upset. Maybe she's had trouble making friends in the past and is afraid to lose you as a friend. Be patient with her and try to imagine being in her shoes.
-Jackie, age 14, Massachusetts

If you told your friends that you would play with them at recess, tell this girl, "I promised my friends I would play with them today. Would it be OK if you and I hang out tomorrow?"
-Sofie, age 10, Texas

During recess, organize a group game that this girl and your friends can all play together. The more, the merrier!
-Felicia, age 11, Tennessee

Say to this girl, "I'd love to hang out, but I want to spend a little time with my other friends, too. You're welcome to join us."
-Sarah, age 12, Oregon

It's possible that this girl is being too clingy. If you're feeling overwhelmed by how often she wants to play, just say, "Another time," when she asks. But only say that if you mean it. It's OK to choose your friends—just remember to be kind to her.
-Nicole, age 11, Massachusetts

You were nice to reach out to this girl, but that doesn't mean you have to spend all of your time with her. Invite her to play with you and your friends. If she still gets upset, that's not fair to you.
-Emily, age 13, South Carolina

If this girl starts to make you feel uncomfortable, it might be time to talk to a teacher or another adult.
-Tanvi, age 12, Michigan

Maybe this girl thinks that you like your other friends more than you like her. Explain kindly that you enjoy playing with her but that you have other friends and would like to spend time with them, too.
-Avery, age 9, California

Invite her to do things with you and your friends. She may feel as if you are "ditching" her when you play with your pals during recess. If you invite her to join in, she will probably feel equal with your other friends.
-Abigail, age 12, Wisconsin

It sounds as if this girl needs a friend, but remember that it's not fair of her to be a "friend hog." to not share you with others. If she gets upset, remind her that you have more than one friend and it's only fair to spend time with everybody.
-Tessa, age 13, New Hampshire

Explain your feelings to this girl. She might think she's getting mixed signals from you. You shouldn't be stopped from hanging out with your other friends because of this girl.
-Alena, age 12, Washington

This girl might feel comfortable with you but shy around other girls. Help her get to know more girls by introducing her to your friends.
-Norah, age 9, Utah

The next time you do something with your friends, invite this girl along. You might be surprised at how much she has in common with your pals. If you can't spend time with her at every recess, come up with a better time to hang out. Remember that everyone wants a friend, so it's important to continue to be kind and patient with this girl.
-Grace, age 12, Alabama

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