to wonder why my lovely DD is so unpopular?

(131 Posts)
Itsnearlysummertime Wed 30-Jan-13 09:53:20

DD1 is 9. In my opinion she is lovely. She has no friends. She hasn't been invited to a party in over 2 years. She has never been invited on a sleepover.

We have had problems with her fitting in at school and even considered moving her, but she doesn't want to move. I fear that if I move her against her will it will only make matters worse.

She goes to a small local school with only 1 class per year. There are about 14 girls in her class including herself. A few a 'queen bee' types with one more so than the others. The rarely acknowledge that she exists. There is a constant stream of sleepovers that she is never invited to and I can see that it is wearing her down. It's making her sad and withdrawn. She doesn't understand.

Other than not being very girly or being bothered about the latest fashion etc, she is just normal. Nice hair, pretty face, average build a bit taller than average.

What can make her so unpopular? I just don't get it. School don't see why it is, but acknowledge that it's happening.

I feel so so sad for her and want to help but just don't know how any more sad

anewyear Wed 30-Jan-13 10:22:54

I think school could do abit more to be honest seeing as shes there 6 hours a day..
Our primary have Buddy seats out in the play ground for example..
They have circle time where they 'discuss' issues like friendships, bullying etc
Are there any activities after school that she could join ie we have at our primary recorders, netball, football, cross stitch, street dance etc

Just a few thoughts..

Thumbwitch Wed 30-Jan-13 10:26:41

There was a lovely girl in the year below me at senior school - she was beautiful, clever, good at sports, friendly and all round lovely, not a bitchy bone in her body. And she had no friends.
It appears that no one else felt they could match up to her in any way - she was the best at everything without trying, and the other girls weren't generous enough to be friends with someone who was better than them all the time, even though she never rubbed it in or lorded (ladied?) it over anyone.

She ended up moving schools - I really hope she did find some friends at her next place.

Perhaps there is an element of that going on with your DD?

jennybeadle Wed 30-Jan-13 10:30:31

DD3 is exactly the same, and we've really worried about it. We've recently decided to embrace it as much as we can.

Her Brownie group is at the other end of town, so is a completely different set of girls. She's joined a choir in another town, so again, different people to "practise" socialising with, and we're encouraging her to be "friendly" without feeling she has to be "best" friends with anyone.

It was her birthday recently, and she decided to invite 3 other girls from her class, and 2 friends from outside school. No pressure to invite the popular girls, or the ones whose parents we like best blush. We've accepted that she may never be popular, and that we're going to make an effort to help her be comfortable in her own skin. It's really, really hard. However, I think it's the way we're most comfortable with long term.

I'm not sure I'd move schools unless there was a really good reason. You might find she just ends up never really settling anywhere. Maybe if she spends the next couple of years "finding herself" she'll be well placed to make good quality friendships in secondary.

gymmummy64 Wed 30-Jan-13 10:30:34

My DD1 did have friends at her first school, but it was a group of highly competitive friends and one very powerful queen bee. Year 2 and year 3 were nightmarish - round and round the same situations over and over with DD1 usually the one who got left out and upset and no one ever seeming to learn how to do things differently the next time round. The problem with queen bees is they have the power because everyone wants to be their friend, it doesn't matter how often you tell the child to ignore them.

My big concern was that this was the only model of friendship my DD would experience in her formative years - competitive, manipulative and bitchy. I really wanted to show her it didn't need to be like this and that it was possible to have much more fulfilling friendships based on positive qualities.

I moved her part way through Y4. It wasn't the only reason for the move, but it was a large part of it. She hasn't looked back and although it took a while to establish 'best' friends, we could both see very quickly her relationships are much much healthier and based on more positive qualities than they would have been if she'd stayed put. There is mutual respect and loyalty there, two qualities almost entirely lacking in the previous set up. She still sees her original friends from time to time and they still continue much the same, though the queen bee lost much of her power in y6 when the others' emotional maturity caught up. In my experience, queen bees tend to be quite mature for their age hence the ability to manipulate.

The school I moved her too had far far more girls to choose from which is a big factor I think. It's very easy not to 'fit in' with a group of 14, especially when there are some strong personalities in there. It doesn't mean there is anything 'wrong' with your daughter at all. Most of us can remember school or work or club or group situations in our lives where for whatever reason, we just didn't gel with the people there. No huge reason, we just didn't. I can certainly remember times like that. Is it possible to move her?

cavell Wed 30-Jan-13 10:30:55

DD1 sounds very similar to your dd and had a similar experince in a small vilage school. We eventually moved her, not because of her lack of friends in itself, but because she was being bullied by a girl in another class and the head refused to deal with this. In other words, we were effectively forced into a move after years of hoping that things would somehow improve. (And, to be clear, I don't believe she was bullied by girls in her own class - "just" without friends). She was immediately a million times happier in her new school and started to come out of her shell after having become very quiet and withdrawn.
I would seriously consider moving your dd if it is at all possible. We tried all the playdates, parties and so on but without success. Sometimes you have to accept that a certain environment just isn't working.
Knowing what I know now, I wish we had moved her at least a year earlier than we did.
DD1 is 12 now and happily settled in at secondary school. She never had a problem making friends after leaving her first school.
HTH.

springlamb Wed 30-Jan-13 10:33:49

DD's first primary school was single form and had only 7 girls. She didn't really settle and form friendships with any. There was a queen bee issue going on, there was also a little racism I think (DD was the only white girl). She wasn't bullied at all, she was never without someone to play with but that, combined with a couple of other strictly educational issues, prompted me to move her to another school.
There were 13 girls in the new class. After a week, another new girl joined. Lo and behold, it was the queen bee from the first school! They are now Yr 6. QB has never quite taken over the class, but she has her gang during the school day. QB is a latchkey kid, and lives nearby so sometimes comes in for a hot chocolate after school, or if the weather's rough, cadges a lift. I am friendly to her as a form of protection for DD. DD is 'mates' with all but her main friends are 3 slightly nerdish boys who all have the same interests.
DD is invited to parties, sometimes goes but chooses not to sometimes. Last party was a 'disco party', anathema to DD, she prefers rock climbing and stuff.
Having outside interests has helped a lot, she goes to girls brigade and young musicians, she loves the countryside and dogs and has a wide knowledge of the world at large.
She has opted to apply for a co-ed secondary with a farm on-site, and a good music department. I am hoping the change will provide more opportunities for like-minded friends.
FWIW, friends of ours had pretty much the same dilemma as you a year or so ago when their DD was due to begin Yr 5 (she was at a small school with combined Yr5/6 class). They changed her to a larger school in the next village. She has done marvellously and they now rue their indecision.
I think you should at least have a look at other schools.

Ashoething Wed 30-Jan-13 10:34:06

I really sympathise op as I have a similiar situation with my ds who is also 9. He hasnt been invited to a party in years even though he has had numerous parties himself and lots of kids have come. The invitation is never reciprocated and it pisses me off that the parents can be so rude tbh. My ds tends to play with the younger dcs at playtimes as the boys in his class exclude him even though he loves football. He is quite young for his age emotionally and I am considering requesting that school hold him back a year.

Sorry for the hijack and I dont really have any good advice but you are not alone!

Itsnearlysummertime Wed 30-Jan-13 10:35:10

Aw thanks everyone for your comments. I have some work to do so I will have a proper read of all your advice later when I have the time to read it properly.

I've just emailed the school for another meeting with her class teacher to see if there is anything they can do.

I have for a while been quite content to let things be and accept that was how things were. She is great friends with this boy and they have great times together. It is just every now and then the fact that girls don't acknowledge her rears it's ugly head and I see how it affects her and I get worried.

Betty I think you have a point. Sometimes it bothers me more than it bothers her! It only bothers her when there are party invites etc and she is obviously left out.

Thumbwitch she is pretty average at sports, average at school etc - she is pretty, but not any more so than anyone else so I don't think this is a problem.

WilsonFrickett Wed 30-Jan-13 10:37:03

I think you need to speak to the teacher to get more insight as to what's going on. I know of another parent who moved her child from a small school and that child is now thriving, and certainly my DS (then 6) found it incredibly hard to settle to a new 'village' school type of thing. More after school activities would help too. Something like music which also gives confidence, a framework for practice, etc.

(Springlamb that school sounds amazing btw)

DeWe Wed 30-Jan-13 10:37:43

I'm not sure the long term answer is to join up with the boy.

Dd1 had problems very similarly, and in her form her best friend was a boy. They got on very well and were lovely together, did things outside school etc. But by the end of year 5 they started getting a lot of teasing that they were boyfriend/girlfriend, which effected both of them. They would describe themselves as "secret best friends" and out of school still do a lot, but in school wouldn't communicate much.

Problem is that it is very hard for the school to break the group mentality. Dd1 would find that all, except one horror, was lovely in a 1 to 1 situation. But put them together and they would constantly put her down and leave her out. The same children who were like this, I would have their parents coming up to me and saying that their dc said how lovely, kind, generous dd1 was all the time.

She moved school to go to one that not many from her school went to for secondary and has been much happier.

doyouwantfrieswiththat Wed 30-Jan-13 10:38:21

How do you get on with their parents? We have a small school locally where the parents have a reputation for being cliquey, (whether that's fair or not I don't know) but children learn by example don't they?

She has at least one good friend by the sound of it.

Viviennemary Wed 30-Jan-13 10:39:31

I think in a larger school this Queen bee nonsense exists but other children do make friends with others who don't want to follow the herd. I think things would be different in a bigger school. But it's difficult if she doesn't want to move. And Queen bees don't like people who don't worship them.

Fecklessdizzy Wed 30-Jan-13 10:45:50

You could be writing about me. I didn't fit in at my tiny village school at all and didn't have a proper gang of mates until secondary school - I can still remember the feeling of amazed pleasure at finding other people who were on the same wavelength!

I still live in the village and was very worried about DS1 having the same experience but he sailed through with flying colours ... It definitely leaves a mark though, I would think about moving your daughter if there's another local school that fits the bill.

I was friends with a girl at secondary school who never fitted in and was rather picked on by a lot of the girls, her family moved and we kept in touch, we used to meet up at gigs, she made loads of friends at her new school and really came out of her shell!

aldiwhore Wed 30-Jan-13 10:51:59

My son was going through this and it made him sad. There was no bitching, a bit of teasing (which we got through) but he was generally ignored.

Until he landed a funny part in a school play, at which point although he was still ignored by the 'in gang' he forged friendships with other boys who strangely enough all felt left out... turns out that the majority of the boys felt like this!

We have done a lot of work on his 'cool'... he was so desparate to be liked and I think the in gang could sense his desparation and exploited it to make him miserable. Since the school play, and coupled with our ongoing 'stay cool' mantra, he's a lot happier. One of the 'in gang' has started hanging out with him (at the expense of his own poplarity).

It's been a hard lesson for my son, but he now is confident that not everyone will like you all the time and so long as he's not being picked on (zero tolerance for that) then it doesn't matter.

My yongest is very different, he doesn't give a damn, and weirdly is very popular...

Yfronts Wed 30-Jan-13 10:52:30

Who does she like? Start inviting them back and arranging sleep overs at yours.

Yfronts Wed 30-Jan-13 10:53:26

Also have play dates with the boy.

doyouwantfrieswiththat Wed 30-Jan-13 10:53:28

FWIW I read that even the fragrant Kate Middleton changed schools when younger because her face didn't fit,bet those girls are kicking themsleves now

Mumsyblouse Wed 30-Jan-13 11:14:21

I am really sympathetic to this, my dd2 is exactly the same, a lovely girl who everyone likes, but doesn't have a group of good friends. She also plays with the boys a lot and has gradually been pushed to the edge of the girls games and interaction as the boys increasingly want to all play together and gender segregation kicks in. I don't know the answer, she just hasn't found her great friends in life yet, but I know they will come (they did for me from secondary onwards and I am quite popular now!)

I also tend to think that you only need one or two good friends to make school fun, so I wouldn't encourage your daughter to try to fit into big groups, especially if quite cliquey anyway, I would focus on maintaining her friendship both with this boy and perhaps one or two other girls who are also on the edges or she particularly likes.

pingu2209 Wed 30-Jan-13 11:56:06

This happens, a lot. However, there are 2 pieces of good news; firstly, that there are things you can do now to help her and secondy, when she goes to secondary school things will change.

She may not fit in with the school class and this may be getting her down. However, it may be that nothing you or she does will help her fit in. The class bitches 'need' someone to bitch about and it seems that is your daughter.

What you can do is join her in out of school and weekend activities where she can meet a wider circle of children. Key is to find activities that are outside of your immediate area so that the other girls from your daughter's class are not there. Sports, dance, amature dramatics etc. It is hard work toing and frowing your daughter to the activities and it costs money. However, there will be 1 or 2 in each activitiy that she will bond with and it will help her to see that she has value and it likeable.

Your daughter is at a small school. When she goes to secondary school that will change. There will be so many other children that she can make friends with. It may take year 7 for her to sort out the wheat from the chaff, but she will make friends.

Please don't worry too much.

Itsnearlysummertime Wed 30-Jan-13 11:57:37

Thanks everyone. It's sad to hear that so many in are in the same position. We should get all these lovely children together!

Most of the time she seems OK. She does ponder on why she 'isn't popular'. We don't live in an area where she can play out really so she can't make friends this way.

It resonates with me when someone says they are OK with her on a one to one basis, which seems to be true. When it comes to a group setting she is completely excluded.

To be honest, I am not a big fan of sleepovers and am quite relieved I don't have to reciprocate them! I would do it though for the sake of DD and to make her happy and encourage friendships.

I just don't get what makes some children popular and others not? If there was something I could do to work on her social skills I would gladly do it.

Every time we chat about it she says she wants to have more friends and be friends with the girls and she would love to go to a school where this was the case, then she cries as she would miss her 'boy' friend. She is afraid to make the move.

aldiwhore I too have another DD who is extremely popular and pretty nonchalant about the whole thing which just exasperates the whole situation for DD1.

MariusEarlobe Wed 30-Jan-13 13:00:32

I could have wrote your post.

My dd is in a boy heavy class where the girls are much older.
She too doesn't fit in.

The problem were we live is its small and they all go to the same clubs so the dynamics still exists.

She also has one boy to play with who is also younger and doesn't fit in with the boys but sometimes he plays football and dd is alone then.

It's been awful and school have confirmed dd is good and kind at school.

kilmuir Wed 30-Jan-13 13:10:30

we had this issue 2 years ago with my DD. Small class, queen bees etc. My DD is quite independent and will not go along with others just to fit in. They would make a point of having sleepovers, and ensuring she knew she was not invited. She said she wasn't bothered but was lonely at school.
We did move her to a larger school and she is much happier.

Itsnearlysummertime Wed 30-Jan-13 13:19:57

MariusEarlobe Have you or school tried to do anything to help the situation?

Kilmuir Sounds very similar. I sometimes wonder about the mentality of the mothers. One had a sleepover for 9 girls - no birthday or celebration just for the sake of it. I suppose they are just desperate trying hard to make their DD's popular.

HollyBerryBush Wed 30-Jan-13 13:22:17

I just don't get what makes some children popular and others not?

Same thing that makes adults popular I suppose. Some people just have that indefinable quality that makes other people gravitate towards them and want to be with them. Usually it is humour - although I must point out, I am not advocating your daughter suddenly becomes the class clown!

It's odd isn't it? I went through primary school with few friends, secondary was much the same apart from a core of similar 'bookish' girls. Funnily enough I met one of the naughty-popular girls a while back and she said to me 'I always liked you, you were the only person who was ever nice to me' - my recollections are being terrified of her because she was 'hard' and popular!!!

Yorkpud Wed 30-Jan-13 13:26:35

That sounds hard. I think friendships are really important for girls at that age. I think I would be tempted to change schools as nothing seems to have changed the whole time she has been there. You could make sure you stay in touch with her 'boy friend' by carrying on inviting him after school and weekends. There is not much room for change in a one class school, it think slightly bigger schools where classes get swopped around a bit avoids this cliquey type of situation.

I feel a bit like this with my oldest son (8 years). He has not been invited to one party since starting the school over a year ago, even though I have done a party for him. No one has initiated any invites after school either though I have forced the issue with a couple of boys he likes and he is starting to get invited back.

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