12 yo DD and friendships(27 Posts)
My 12 yo DD is extremely self confident and truly believes she is the best at everything. A few examples of this include:
She started gymnastics about 6 months ago but now thinks she is so much better than other girls in the class. She makes snidey comments and pulls faces when they attempt any kind of gymnastic moves, all behind their backs because although she is full of self confidence, she isn't great with confrontation. She does it in the park if she sees other kids doing cartwheels or whatever and she doesn't care whether these kids are really small or much bigger than her.
She did really well in her end of Year 7 exams and scored very highly in all her subjects (7, 8 and 9 grades for everything). Obviously we are extremely proud of her and tell her all the time how fantastic these achievements are. She is predicted mostly A and A* at GCSE but obviously that's a while off yet. She looks down on others who didn't do as well as she did and again makes comments behind people's backs. When talking to other kids who did just as well, she will offer up a disparaging remark, totally rubbishing their achievements.
She desperately wants to be one of the popular girls at school but, like me, she just isn't but I think it's because she has this nasty streak to her. I can't figure out why she is like this.
She cannot seem to establish and maintain friendships with other similar aged kids. She has latched on to a couple of local kids who are 8 and 10 and spends all her time hanging out with them or waiting for them to play out. I think it's strange that she hasn't been out with anybody from school either to the park or bowling in town... Usual stuff kids get up to. She says she wants to, but appears to have nobody to do any of it with.
I don't know how to help her, so any advice gratefully received!
For background/context she is the eldest of 3, she was an 8 yo brother and s 6 yo sister. Due to our living situation, they are all sharing a room at the moment but I'm not adverse to hosting sleepovers for her/her friends. She recently joined dance and gymnastic classes in a bid to help her make friends but that doesn't seem to have worked either.
I go over and over it with my kids that kindness is the most important attribute I want them to have.
How do you react when she's nasty? Mine just wouldn't get away with it, I don't allow them to trash talk others
We do a lot of talking! We are constantly reiterating the importance of being kind to others, thinking before we speak, think about how you felt when x, y, z happened. We've (that's Dh and I) have tried being nice about it, talking to her like an adult, asking for her thoughts/feelings/opinions/ideas on how we can move forward.
We've tried the hard approach too - withdrawal of privileges, gadgets, shouting, grounding etc. she just argues and back chats. She is master at having the last word. Believe me, it's not tolerated, but we really don't know how else to stop it.
We also do a lot of positive reinforcement with her and really go to town when she has shown desired behaviour. For example yesterday DD2 had a friend round to play and DD1 was really lovely with both of them. I told her why I was proud of her behaviour and then thanked her for making good choices. It's like her default mechanism is to go back to being a brat. It's so draining and starting to affect the way the younger DCs are behaving.
So why does she feel she's better than others? Where has she got the superiority from? Because an actual superiority complex is an attitude which conceals true feelings of failure and inferiority, but you definitely think she's very confidant? Have you talked with her about equality, how does she feel about racism? Sexism?
Does she show empathy towards others?
How about volunteering
I really don't know why she has this superiority thing going on or where it comes from. I don't think it's a mask for anything else either.
Don't get me wrong, I want my kids to be confident about themselves/their abilities but not to the detriment of others.
Are you sure she is actually confident? She sounds incredibly insecure to me. Berating others achievements is not the way confident people behave.
How do you and your parent speak about your friends and coworkers?
Is your daughter perhaps under the impression that you value certain achievements over 'having a go' and enjoying what you do?
She's far from confident really.
I'd also ask whether in trying to help her you have over egged the pudding a bit?
I'm on my 4th secondary schooler and I've not heard any talk of predicted GCSEs grades yet and dd is yr 10.
My dd is a good dancer and singer but doesn't diss others achievements, I think if she did I'd stop her doing it for a bit tbh.
On the whole, we do speak nicely about others when the kids are around and save the moaning for when they are in bed. We've made s conscious effort to be like this, especially around DD.
We are quite hard on her when it comes to school work because she has the potential to do well. DH and I do pretty poorly paid jobs (I'm a TA but hoping to do teacher training next year and he is a driver) which directly has an impact on our living situation because we can't afford to move at the moment. We both just want the kids to do the best they can so they don't end up living as we are now and so they can have a good life. It's not terrible by any means but it certainly isn't ideal.
She is very competitive and can throw epic strops if she doesn't win but again we spend a lot of time talking about having a go and taking part rather than the actual result. It falls on deaf ears. It's all or nothing.
In terms of her predicted results, the school sets them from the beginning of Year 7 by setting targets that they have to achieve. They are then tested every term and results are reported back. We get the target set by the school, what the teacher thinks she will achieve, and what her predicted grades will be based on her results.
Thank you for taking the time to help me out with this. I'm taking all your comments on board.
Could it be that the lack of friends is making her feel insecure?
It's a vicious circle.
DD (11) has a girl like this in her class. Over the last 2 years other kids have bent over backwards to be nice to her and to include her in stuff, but she always throws it back at them, is nasty/bullying/rude to them, so they stop bothering...and she goes to the teachers/mum and tells them she's being excluded.
DD invited all the girls to her birthday this year, including the nasty one (NG).
Everyone having a great time and then, very clearly, NG says "Am I the only person who bothered to dress up for this party?". DD says "NG, that's very rude" and NG replies "well look at you, it's your birthday and you look like a tramp". DD gets upset and the other girls blow up at NG. I blow my top and tell mum to take NG home. They go but not before NG makes a sarky comment about presents and money.
2 months later and it's NGs birthday. She invites all the girls except 1. Everyone declines. Mum is at school the following Monday wailing about her DD being bullied and wanting all the girls punished. I quietly and calmly remind mum of what happened at DDs party, and also that by excluding one girl, the others felt they had to make a stand.
Mums only comment "But that was ages ago and NG says everyone hates girl X anyway"
So. She has no friends because she's nasty, but is nasty because she has no friends.
Sorry, posted too soon. But in our case mum doesn't try to help at all, so at least you are better in that respect.
Could you be really blunt with your DD? I wonder with NG if her mum had simply told her it was all her own fault (rather than placating her) whether she'd learn from her actions.
Have you actually asked her why she thinks she's better than everyone? Who is she to put other people down? Does she think she has no flaws? Why would someone want a friend like her?
Be blunt and harsh with your questions.
This sounds like a really difficult situation. From what you have written I would suspect that your DD feels a bit pressurised by your expectations.
Having said that, you should of course have expectations! But she might have caught on to the fact that you are unhappy with your current education level and social position. She might be fearful that she cannot live up to your dreams for her.
It sounds to me like your DD is seeking your approval by looking down on others.
She knows you value academic achievement (as you should) but might feel unable to live up to your expectations.
Of course I am making these assumptions based on very little information so I hope you don't feel under attack!
You sound very involved and loving and that is really the most important thing. Perhaps reassure her that she is fine the way she is. And maybe lighten up on obtaining certain grades. You could focus more on making learning an enjoyable pursuit regards less of external rewards.
I agree that it sounds like you have high expectations for your DD and maybe that is putting her under a lot of pressure. Maybe she feels that she's getting mixed messages from you - you tell her that her results are amazing, but you don't want her to say this to others, so she feels confused? She reacts by being over competitive and as a result doesn't have any friends. I feel sorry for her. Maybe a couple of sessions of family therapy would help to break the cycle?
I've tried ignoring her nasty behaviour and comments but after a while, I turn into shouty mum and we end up arguing because I can't take any more of it.
When I'm at the end of my rope, which is getting quite often tbh, I end up shouting at her that it's no wonder she has no friends if this is the way she behaves, who made her queen of bloody everything, why is she so horrible to other people etc. I'm not proud of myself when it gets to this point and I end up feeling awful because she is only 12. My questions are answered with a shrug of the shoulders, or things like "I'm not queen of everything; I never said x, y, z" or the standard grunts and yes/no answers.
Getting her to at least try and have a conversation is such hard work because she just won't engage.
I'm making her sound bloody awful but she does have a lot of nice qualities too. It's just the horrid streak in her comes out far more than the nice.
I think you have a point re high expectations too. I will think on about that. Thank you.
I don't think she sounds horrible at all. Just sad lonely and confused.
I agree with the suggestion above regarding family therapy. Yelling at her won't help. She clearly feels unlikable already. She should at least be able to feel and know that you both love and like her.
Your situation has struck a cord with me as it reminds me of my relationship to my mother. I can't stress enough how important it is for young women to feel liked by their mothers. Both of you clearly have work to do- but you should perhaps begin by working on yourself and your approach to her.
Thank you all for your advice. I do love her, of course I do. I'm trying to put the negative out there so I can formulate a plan for dealing with it. I do think some of it is linked to just being 12 and finding her feet but I accept that there may be something deeper going on with her. I shall endeavour to find out what that is.
I really am grateful for the replies, so thank you. I've got lots to think about.
OP, I know you're frustrated and you're doing your best, but honestly, shouting at her that it's no wonder she has no friends is horrible
I know. I'm honestly not proud of it hence my asking on here. It is frustrating because we can't seem to find a way forward. We've tried nice, we've tried downright horrible and everything in between. Despite everything, we do have a good relationship and do lots together. I would just love to see her settled with a few good friends, enjoying herself.
OP have you considered that she may be on the autistic spectrum albeit at the high functioning end?
She struggles with social relationships? highly academic? gets on better with younger children or adults? has blow-ups?
Social anxiety is such a struggle for some children and inhibits their ability to empathise.....so while she may be kind and thoughtful, that gets tucked away due to the anxiety of interacting with her peers.
I wonder does that strike any chords with you?
I have a dd about to start y9 and there's a girl in her class who is like your dd except that she has a twin sister who is extremely popular which compounds the problem.
Does your dd ever talk about her weaknesses or stuff that she admires about other people?
I find that my children are better at being honest if I talk to them when their siblings are not in earshot or we are in the car and not making eye contact while we chat. If they are told off in front of their siblings they automatically become defensive with the "But..." And "I don't care" attitude.
Everybody has stuff that they need to work on. If your dd is much better at gymnastics than the other girls in her class can you send her to a more advanced one so she can challenge herself?
I too wonder if she might be on the autistic spectrum? One of mine has problems with friendships - she has ADHD and doesn't quite get social situations. She finds younger peers or adults easier possibly because she seems more confident with them. She's told me she just doesn't always understand what her peers are talking about and can be verbally aggressive or rude especially when anxious.
Did your dd get on better when younger? Is this a recent thing? 12 is an awkward age when relationships change from being playmates to something deeper and more complex. I remember myself suddenly having to think about how to make friends where before it had just happened without me realising how. The sneering and put downs are probably an ill-judged way of making herself feel less out of her depth.
I doubt your parenting is to blame - perhaps a chat with her about how she feels about the lack of friends might reveal something? Or support her in thinking about how / where things have gone wrong on specific occasions so she can learn new skills. Just going to new clubs is unlikely to work without any input.
My younger dd had a girl in her primary class whom no one really liked. As I'm friendly with the mum, she sometimes came to ours and invariably she was bossy and uncooperative - my dd can get on with anyone but she usually gave up after a while with this girl. (Girl has emotional issues in her life but I don't know if that's the whole problem)
Think you need to try to unpick the cause of the issues. Just being a good role model and telling her how to behave won't be enough imo.
I people watched as a (pre)teen to try to work out the appropriate behaviour of my peers to emulate. They all seemed to bitch and moan all the time. I tried to copy this behaviour and failed miserably. Could it be that she is trying to emulate others behaviours but not quite getting the subtleties of her peer's interactions? I still listen in to others having massive bitching/moaning sessions and don't understand why one set of people get away with it and others don't.
I also wonder if perhaps your pushing her too hard with school work then over praising when she does well. My daughter started to rely on praise as affirmation of her worth as a person when all the grandparents would tell her what a clever girl she was. She really started to pile a lot of pressure on herself to always be the best. I had to ask them to stop making such a big deal of her doing well academically or in sports etc and to praise other things. It seems to have worked really well. It's far more complex than I've explained here but don't want to hijack.
My son has asd and he can be very rude and nasty about other people. He sees it as being honest and other people's feelings and being tactless just don't occur to him or bother him. Your dd sounds similar tbh. Maybe look into it?
She isn't confident underneath the bravado. She isn't feeling superior. She puts others down constantly and that means she's utterly insecure. No happy high achiever is nasty about others achievements. Happy high achievers are nice to others. She's not happy!
Why is she so competitive? Is she controlling too? That combined with putting others down, would make her poor friendship material. Other children are naturally going to give her a wide birth. Hopefully she will learn and develop with time.
Lead by example. Be very kind and non competitive. Be proud of more meaningful things like consideration - not grades. Anyone can get high grades if they have the right support and mental agility. Kindness is much more meaningful then an A grade.
Do talk to the teacher about the issue. Then you and your DD need to read teen self help books (Amazon?) and reflect.
Is your own competitiveness/values leading her to be competitive too? All the competitive kids I know have seriously competitive parents.
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