11 yr old so unhappy - how can we let her know it will pass?(13 Posts)
My 11 yr old dd has had a tough year; I went back to work full time into a full-on job in February, her very much loved grandma died in June and she started at high school in September, the only one of her primary class to go to this particular school (her 13 yr old sister is there).
She's not settled in particularly well; for someone who has always been able to make friends she's finding it really hard. Academically she's doing fine. No-one is being horrible to her, but existing groups of girls don't appear to want to give her a chance, or if they do, they then revert back the next day to not including her. She feels really lost and unhappy which is terrible to see. We've alerted the person responsible for yr 7's pastoral care at her school and they're keeping an eye on her, and shortly to try a new seating plan etc. From reading previous comments I know that this is not at all unusual, but I'm just wondering if anyone can offer me and dh some advice as to how to let her know that this will pass. I tell her so often that things will get better but she just cries and says I don't understand. We tell her and show her how much we love her as much as we can, and generally we do have a really close relationship. She is displaying challenging behaviour, nothing outrageous, but starting to test boundaries, eg. answering back, refusing to take 'no' for an answer when it's explained logically and reasonably to her, getting into a temper about silly things. She's so up and down, it's absolutely exhausting for all of us, including her sister. She left a drawing notepad out downstairs the other night which I flicked through and came across a diary entry (it really wasn't a diary) from October saying how unhappy she was and that she'd tried to commit suicide but hadn't been able to. She'd scored this out heavily but it was still legible. The following entry was about her feeling better. I was horrified. I don't think she really means it and there's no doubt she can be a bit of a drama queen at times but the fact that at the age of 11 she could even contemplate something like this is just terrible. Has anyone else's child written/said similar? I had a long talk with her the following night after a long crying stint (hers, not mine, over an hour) - didn't say I'd read what she'd written but said that she mustn't ever feel that she couldn't come and talk to me and her dad about how she feels, that we'll do whatever we can to make her feel better, that she mustn't ever think she's on her own with this. I don't' know whether we should confront her with it directly, or just see how things go whilst keeping a close eye on her, or should make an appointment with a counsellor or what. She's such a lovely lovely girl and we love her so much, it's so awful to know that she's so unhappy.
You sound like a lovely Mum- keep reassuring her and giving her the opportunity to talk to you.
'The 7 habits of highly effective teens' is excellent. It's written by the son of the author of the original book and is practical and relevant. Read it yourself first and then either guide her to read bits or give it to her.
What's her relationship with her big sister like, can she reassure her, look out for her or even just 'reign it in a bit' if she appears to be sailing through blithely?
Don't know what to say but can sympathise. Ds started high school this August with no friends from Primary, and has been really miserable. Found it hard to make new friends and this escalated into a bullying issue which we have only just unearthed.
Sounds like you are doing all the right things.
Would she invite any of the new friends round for tea or a trip out somewhere?
Hope she feels better soon
I'd change her school - find out which one she wants to go to
I would go back to the school and press for more action - can they suggest to dd to join lunch clubs, pair her off in some tasks with some other girls who are still looking for friends etc? I know pastoral teams sometimes think it better to let people find own friends naturally over time, but sometimes this doesn't happen, and the dcs need some help!
Also if there is anyone who dd seems to get on with, could she invite them over?
If things don't improve, would a change of school be feasible?
Completely agree with alpinemeadow's post.
This has been going on for 12 weeks now, which must seem like a life-time for your poor DD. No matter how supportive (and you are) you are being at home, she has to face this day in, day out. Whilst it may not seem on the surface to be bullying, these girls are deliberately playing her and excluding her. Horrible.
Make an appointment at the school and go in. Tell them how bad it is - she has expressed suicidal thoughts, etc. Try to see someone as senior as possible who will take it seriously. Plus, does she have a trusted adult at the school who can see what is going on. Is the form tutor any good? One of the adults must be picking up on why they are excluding her - has the pastoral person found anything out?
She lost her beloved grandmother 5 months ago, and you are around less often. This may be as -if not more- important than the school (but obviously you do need to address that as a priority).
I wonder if she left the notebook there so you would see it, so you could appreciate how sad she is feeling?
I have used CAMHS for my son's anxiety. I resisted the thought of it for ages (out of ignorance) and while it didn't cure my son's anxiety (manifesting as an intense phobia about dogs) it helped me to deal with it, to see what things I did make it worse or better, etc. I think this may also be a route for you? You need to speak to your GP for a referral. The reason I mention this is because you seem to take her suicide ideation seriously. If she is experiencing unresolved grief, which her experiences at school are not helping, then it won't just disappear.
I agree with the advice about seeing someone at her school. In the meantime is there a friend from her old primary you could invite around? My DS is also Yr7, and while he 'likes' most of the children in his new class, he doesn't want to invite them home. he enjoys his spare time too much. But he will spend time with his best friend from primary, who is at another school. For your DS this might be a welcome relief of feeling friendless?
Obvious stuff is encouraging her to do after school clubs, etc. I feel that if you change schools she will be at the same disadvantage there, and at least here your older daughter can be felt as having someone in her corner.
And you are totally right to get her talking, because this is the most important thing -for me, and my DS anyway. Finally, don't underestimate the disorientating effect of hormones.
are there any clubs she can join which are in the area but outside of school - enable her to meet people her own age that go to her school without being in the school environment?
Thank you all so much for your input. I have asked her if there are any girls that she'd like to invite over as a way of initiating a deeper relationship with them, but she's not keen on the idea. There may be some after school clubs and I'll look into that, but quite honestly she's so knackered at the end of the school day and has a fair amount of homework that I'm not sure she'd be up for them, but definitely worth a try. Tuhlulah, what is CAMHS? Re. changing school: I did ask her last night if she wanted to leave and she was horrified. I think she really likes the school and the opportunities it's affording her, and I agree that it could possibly be the same thing in a new school but without her (generally grumpy but mostly supportive) older sister. I think we will definitely go into the school for a meeting; she's fine today, hasn't said much but has been more herself at supper, but it can all change so fast, and I just can't stop thinking about that diary entry. She does know she's loved and I just hope that we can help her make it through on a day to day basis. Thanks again.
Don't change schools. She will be the new kid among All the newly formed friendships and without her sister. I met with the school re ds and they were great. Dealt swiftly with a bullying problem, moved him in classes to sit with other pupils and provided him with a buddy from the senior school and access to the lS base where he can go if he feels sad.
He seems happier already.
CAMHS is Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Don't be alarmed, you'd be surprised at how many children are seen by CAHMS for anxiety related things. What I liked about it was how it supported me and taught me how I could support my DS when he felt anxious and overwhelmed. It takes a while to get referred. And you may not need it, but you did say you were concerned about her notebook. Actually, having the notebook can be a release for her feelings. But I wonder if she put it there for you to see, because she couldn't express how bad she was feeling.
I am sure you're doing all the right things. This may indeed pass. But maybe you should be thinking ahead re CAMHS just in case it doesn't. Sorry, I certainly don't mean to imply she would do anything other than think about it, but she must be sad. That being said, she's had a hard time lately.
I wish you both well.
Hi HGG48 I am so sorry you and your DD are having such a tough time (internet hand-holding from me). My DD is 11yr and I have had some tough times with her saying she is lonely and no friends, I can imagine what you are going through.
The note I think was probably just her expressing herself and getting some of her feelings out and nothing more than that, I mean she more than likely didn't mean it! It must have been horrible to read. I have read notes and stories written by DD that have made me worried and sad. One thing I will say on the suicide topic is that they seem to cover it a lot more in school these days. MY DD has just done a topic on cyber bullying and each day was coming home with some awful tales. I thought some of it was a bit OTT for age 11yr. Just wondered if your DD had been through similar teaching at school so she is more aware of it, if you see what I mean.
Does she have any contact with her primary friends? Friends in the neighbourhood at all? Def keep up the contact with pastoral to ensure they are doing all they can to monitor and help her. What are her interests, are there any school clubs, eg music groups she can join, anything on at lunchtime? Do you belong to a church, this can be a nice way of meeting people.
Just keep letting her know you are there for her, try not to show her you are so worried ( I know it's hard) she can see you care I'm sure and that you love her. Tell her how wonderful she is and give her a boost but obviously don't let her behaviour run rings round you. Do you have time for any fun stuff, big or small, it must be hard with work. All the best and I hope she feels better soon.
I have just read your thread and can completely understand how worrying it is when DD says such things and seems so unhappy. MY DD is 10 and has anxiety issues and has seen CAMHS (who were great) She would often say she wished she were dead which for a 10 year old was dreadful to hear. Most of the time she was happy, but would get in a state about school or friends. She is worried at the moment about starting secondary school next year away from her friends. But on a positive note she has settled down and is much less upset than 1 year ago. But CAMHS is really worthwhile and can give us parents advice on how to help DD or DS. Hope your DD feels happier soon.
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