My daughter’s friends are far more socially confident than she is online and she feels like she can’t compete with them. She says she feels worthless compared to them. They are also doing well with their school grades and compared to them she’s falling behind. Can you help us?

Irrespective of our age we all occasionally go through periods when we compare ourselves to others, we question ‘where do I fit in’ and our position in life’s grand plan. This is perfectly normal, however, when this trait lingers it can begin to affect a person’s confidence levels.

Feelings of self-doubt or worthlessness are further compounded by comparing ourselves to other people on social media – something that has become virtually unavoidable these days. So we need to teach her to be utterly discerning in this regard.

With age should come experience and with experience should come good judgement – the ability to be discerning and objective about others and about situations. As a youngster still at school she will be susceptible to the pressures of comparisons and the associated negative feelings, after all, school is a competitive environment, where evaluations of her versus others is likely.

You have an opportunity here to change the way she thinks about herself though, about her own personal confidence levels and about your own academic performance targets. You must be unfailingly supportive in this regard.

Don’t allow the achievements or personalities of others to have such a strong impact on both her mood and her outlook – instead focus on the positives and on the ‘bigger picture’ for her. It’s time she took back her self-worth and re-values herself again – the real person. Instead of wasting time watching others with envy, she should be busy thinking about what it is that really makes her ‘her’.

Everyone has different skills and talents and just because someone possesses conventional mainstream social skills, or is achieving higher grades, that doesn’t detract from what she has achieved or more pertinently what she will go on to achieve.

If her grades are slipping it’s best to discuss your concerns with the school and formulate a plan, maybe additional support is required in certain areas. There’s no shame in asking for this and by getting it early, it can help further academic performance issues from forming and safeguard her from falling into a cycle of lower achievement.

Remember if she’s letting the performance of her peers push her into a state of worry over her own grades, she could be speeding up the rate at which they decline.

This concern and lack of confidence compared to her ‘friends’, leads me to ask if these are genuine friends at all? Youngsters – and girls in particular – can be cruel and I’m concerned what role in the pecking order your daughter undertakes. This might be the time to edge her towards a new friendship group she will feel more confident and comfortable with.

All too often people can make it appear like their lives are completely perfect on social media and feeling like we just simply don’t ‘measure up’ is now an increasingly common issue. But don’t forget, we all have skills that others don’t have (and vice versa).

Finally, some of the most interesting, dynamic, successful and talented people I’ve met went through school with a degree of social awkwardness and lower confidence levels; but when they eventually found their feet and discovered they were unique and talented, they found they had far more to offer than the obvious.