DD1 says she wants to kill herself rather than go to school...

(87 Posts)
williamtell Wed 09-Oct-13 08:57:40

I have name changed for this for obvious reasons!

Rather dramatic but it is the end of a long journey and I have lost all perspective and ideas as to what to do.

DD1 is in Y4. For years she had issues around feeling "bored" at school, not really making any friends, complaining continuously that she is not learning anything new, doesn't seem enthusiastic about anything to do with school. Tried everything including:
- talking to the head (several times)
- talking to teachers (several times throughout the years)
- inviting friends round (doesn't seem to have clicked with anyone)
- doing extracurricular (she does music and dance, and she does very well at both)
None of the above has made a jot of difference.

If I try and be objective I see this:
- school is exceptionally poor at differentiating work and is a bit of a SATS factory (no extracurricular activities, very little music and art).
- DD has a very dynamic personality. She appears very popular wherever we go, has lots of friends outside school, loves her junior conservatoire and her dance school, everyone she ever comes across always has positive things to say about her (how bright/enthusiastic/mature she is and how hard she is willing to work). At school she appears withdrawn.
Something has to be amiss if school is the only place where things are going so wrong for her. But I can't put my finger on exactly what it is.

Things have come to a head now and I have lost all ability to know what to do. She says she doesn't care - home educating or moving elsewhere, but she is desperate to move. This morning things came to a head where she made herself sick and said she would rather kill herself than keep going. DH persuaded her to go but she was in a terrible state and I feel enormously guilty that I haven't managed to get this issue resolved.

Just to complete the picture, she has siblings at the school and they are happy. There have been the odd issues, but nothing that spectacular and all in all I'd say the others are bubbling along fine. What would you do in my situation? I would appreciate any advice as I really don't know where to go from here.

perceptionreality Wed 09-Oct-13 09:00:09

Move her to another school that suits her better. It is quite possible that a school could be fine for her siblings but not for her. You've tried to make things work at this school and she's so miserable that that is the only choice you have left now imo.

scurryfunge Wed 09-Oct-13 09:01:25

Are you certain there is no bullying issue?

Kikithecat Wed 09-Oct-13 09:05:08

I agree with persep- move her. It sounds like you've tried everything and doesn't seem to be much to lose.

passthebuck Wed 09-Oct-13 09:05:59

My gut says bullying. What you're describing is very, very often later discovered to be caused by a fear of what an/other child/ren will do at school.

What do her siblings have to say about the possibility?

The alternative is that she's very intelligent and supremely bored. Or both?

What would I do? Move her or HE. You've tried, it isn't working, don't leave her to suffer any longer.

williamtell Wed 09-Oct-13 09:06:49

scurryfunge I have thought about this too and apart from the usual unkind behaviour of 8-9 year old girls, I didn't think so. We have had tears/fallouts in the past, but at the moment this doesn't seem to appear a big issue. She seems to be fine in terms of always having someone to play with, even if it is a reception child (she loves younger children).

I will have another chat with her to see if it is that, but if you talk to her she keeps saying "she isn't learning anything new". Obviously I have taken this with a pinch of salt but her main source of upset seem to be the content of the learning.

perception, I am seriously considering a move, I am just terrified that we will encounter this again and I am trying to think what to look for in another school to try and avoid this happening again...

castlesintheair Wed 09-Oct-13 09:09:33

I would delve deep into bullying. One of my DDs only told me in Year 4 (after she left) that she had been bullied by a "friend" since Reception. It took the form of exclusion/undermining so my DD probably didn't see it as bullying. It it's not that, then I would move her to another more stimulating school.

williamtell Wed 09-Oct-13 09:16:14

Thanks for giving me some perspective into all this. I think it might be a bit of both - bullying and lack of stimulation. The intelligence thing could be an issue, but it is an interesting fact because her brother, who is probably slightly more academic/brighter than her, doesn't have any issues.

But he is a very different character and also has a nice little group of friends who are very like-minded (all play the same instrument, all have the same hobbies, all even look similar!), whilst my DD1 stands out like a sore thumb in her class and hasn't bonded with anyone.

mummytime Wed 09-Oct-13 09:20:44

Take her to the GP! Sorry all threats of suicide should be taken seriously. The GP should refer her to CAMHS, who will assess how much at risk she is. They also tend to be very good at talking to children/teens, so you may be able to get clarity.

I would also look at other schools. Even quite close schools can be very different. Be very honest with schools and expect them to be very honest with you. Some year groups/class groups just don't work for some children. Or it could be a whole school thing for your DD. Or it could even be a boy/girl thing, school has been a totally different experience for my DS to my DD.

pokesandprodsforthelasttime Wed 09-Oct-13 09:32:45

Move her

williamtell Wed 09-Oct-13 09:55:14

I have thought about the GP too, the only reason I am hesitating is that she is getting more extreme with her words because she is strong willed and wants me and her dad to move her - using any tactic she can to persuade us.

Every time I am on my own with her she asks me to move her schools, for example. DH thinks she is trying to manipulate us into getting what she wants, but ultimately I have to ask myself why is a child so desperate to move away from her local school, her friends and her siblings and tells everyone who asks how much she hates her school. There has to be something seriously amiss.

There is something amiss. For whatever reason she is not happy at that school. And using more extreme language/threats is the only way she can get through to you as she has tried everything else.

Are there other schools in the area? It's got to be worth looking at the options. What about secondary? Where will she go then?

castlesintheair Wed 09-Oct-13 10:04:34

"but ultimately I have to ask myself why is a child so desperate to move away from her local school, her friends and her siblings and tells everyone who asks how much she hates her school. There has to be something seriously amiss."

Exactly. Don't let her suffer. Childhood is so short but the scars stay with us forever.

williamtell Wed 09-Oct-13 10:09:47

There are other schools in the area, one is failing and people have been unhappy/moving children out of it, another is very small and I worry that the pool of friends will be minimal. None of them seem like good options to me.

There is also a very well known/independent/selective school 20 miles away, we did put her in for an assessment last year (we were already getting near to desperation back then!) and they said she did so well they would keep a place open for her all of this year if we wanted her to go.

The only reason we did not let her go there (she loved it/is desperate to go) is that for the disruption/amount of travel/money required really it does have to be the last resort. I am also worried that she thinks this new school is so much better than her current school only to find other issues, but this is just me being a nervous wreck about making the wrong decision now.

mummytime Wed 09-Oct-13 10:27:56

When my DD threatened Suicide, my GP was very good, and talked to her for a long time. She was then referred to CAMHS. They assessed that she was at pretty low risk of actual suicide (but gave me advice of what to do if things changed). They also talked to her in such a way that she could tell them (with me there) far more about what she thought and felt.

I was very unhappy at school. I didn't tell my mother a fraction of the reasons I was so unhappy. As a parent I would definitely have found another school or way to educate my child rather than keep them at that school. I was lucky, I survived, and got good exam results; but it could have been worse very easily.

Stop thinking you can't "give in" and get her help. If it fails at the new school. Then you will have to get more help for her, but at least you will know the problem is more complicated than just the wrong school for your DD.

castlesintheair Wed 09-Oct-13 10:29:37

I would consider the independent school. Can you ask about a bursary? Or scholarship if she did so well in the assessment? Explain your situation to the school. You will probably be surprised. I think her happiness outweighs any disruption. It is ideal if you can have all your dcs in one place for primary but that is frequently not the norm in reality.

TheGonnagle Wed 09-Oct-13 10:42:53

Sounds to me like you need to move her. THe school isn't fulfilling her for one reason or another, and you already say how much she enjoys her extra-curricular. If there isn't much of what inspires her in the place where she spends the majority of her time then I can see how it would be dragging her down.
It's an expensive option, but the independent sounds like it has your dd written all over it!

alpinemeadow Wed 09-Oct-13 10:44:48

my sympathies, you must all be feeling terrible - it is so upsetting when dcs are unhappy at school.

you mentioned that your dd sometimes plays with a reception child - nothing wrong with that at all, but is it a sign that she is not getting on with her yr 4 classmates, so has to look elsewhere for dcs to play with?
I think as mummytime says some year groups/class groups just for whatever reason don't work for some children - just bad luck, and the wrong combination of dcs for your dc. The difficulty can be telling whether that is this case, and deciding when it is at last time to throw in the towel and move - but the fact that you've been trying to improve things for four years without great success, means that that may at least be a possibility.
I can completely see that none of the alternatives are ideal, though - a school 20 miles away would be a huge commitment for you. Do many other dcs from your area go there so that you could at least share transport (I know there are other issues as well!)?

perceptionreality Wed 09-Oct-13 10:50:24

I would consider the independent school as well. You may find that moving her to a school which suits her better (and probably has smaller class sizes) would be the making of her. You could ask about a bursary and see if you meet the criteria - you do have to ask because nobody at the school will suggest it to you unless you do iyswim.

twocatsinthedark Wed 09-Oct-13 10:59:08

Apart from the extremity of the reaction, you could be describing my DD exactly, right down to the playing with younger children (quite common in bright children apparently). We've also looked at a selective school but can't afford it.

In your place (and there has been some excellent help up before), I would:

Talk to the GP and the school. As everyone says, she may open up more with other people, but you might also get an assessment of where her problems are. We've had the Ed Psych in for DD in school, and it was good to hear that her problems were not social issues, but were down to her being bored and able. I think some kind of outside assessment would help you all.

Talk to the other school, not just about bursaries but also about transport. There may well be a minibus.

Other things to think about for now - talk to the school about her moving up a year (its a big step but might just suit her). Also, can you try doing some stretching but fun work at home, just for an hour or two a week? This in the past is what has saved DD's sanity.

Finally, are you able to HE, even for a short while? It might be a way of judging how serious she is about wanting to move (I would HE at the drop of a hat, but DD doesn't want to, not yet).

Murdermysteryreader Wed 09-Oct-13 11:05:52

Your child feeling suicidal is a last resort. You need to move her from this school. Talk to her about what she wants too.

I agree with the advice above about seeing the GP.

The private school might be the answer otherwise could you Home Ed? It does sound like she needs to get out of the environment she is in. There are some very helpful people on the home ed board who could give you an insight into their experiences.

tiggytape Wed 09-Oct-13 11:28:54

She must be very feeling desperate either way. I agree with the others about going to the GP now she has voiced this even if you don't think she means it. And if your DH is right, if she doesn't mean it but is saying it to get her own way - well that shows extreme desperation in itself.

The local school may be poor but her current school is doing nothing positive for her at all and is potentially doing her great harm. There is no guarantee that the problems will ease at a new setting but I think you have exhausted all the possibilities of improving the situation at her current school - things have got too bad.
Making herself sick (if you mean physically making herself sick on purpose) is an escalation of her distressed state and I think you need to take it very seriously and let her leave. To be honest, if it were my DD I would take her out of school now even if I didn't have a new school lined up and I never advise anyone to do that in normal circumstances. I would at least get her signed out sick until things could be sorted out.

perceptionreality Wed 09-Oct-13 11:32:36

I think that anyone who talks of killing themselves should be taken seriously, particularly when she has made herself sick as well. She sounds desperate and I agree should see a doctor as the situation appears to have affected her mental health at least. She is in a very dark place for a child so young. I am sorry you have this worry OP and I do hope you can find a solution.

Parmarella Wed 09-Oct-13 11:40:33

Move her.

I moved my very stressed DS in y3, he stopped biting nails, and relaxed and was happier.

That same school was great for my younger DS though...

Sometimes it is just a bad fit. I would start looking at other schools. It is also important for your relationship with you that she knows you understand how badly she feels, and that you do something to help her.

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