how can I help my 12yr old dd to become happier/content/have friends etc

(41 Posts)
Gatekeeper Thu 19-Jun-14 14:54:25

dd was upset last night; she says she feels like a 'third wheel' in any friendships at school and not part of anything. She is in yr 7 and says she is a misfit. Most of the other girls in her year are seriously into clothes, make-up, boys and image. They all seem identikit to me with their pouts and Groucho Marx eyebrows. A lot of them are seriously over indulged and have all the labels and lots of spending money. We are ok but not much spare for stuff like that

She is having trouble with 'clicking' with people and forming friendships, not helped by the fact that she hates 1D and boybands, but loves Manga and anime and is perceived as being quirky or a bit wierd

It doesn't help that the school encatchment has a wide radius so anyone who she is vaguely friendly with lives miles away and not on a direct bus route.

not much in the way of afterschool clubs and besides, she has to get the school bus home.

I felt my heart break for her when she was asking a few girls to meet up at a central point one Saturday for her birthday; the deal was that we would stand them a meal at Nandos (or wherever) and a visit to the 1950's style ice cream parlour (v. popular with her year). All refused saying the had other plans but I saw their postings on dd's facebook page later saying "Bored" "Nothing to do " etc and not one wished her a Happy Birthday- I felt like crying for her..

She is lovely..quirky, funny, clever and beautiful- she is emotional, & lacks confidence. I am worried that she doesn't go out much , spending most of her time writing stories or drawing and living too much in her head, becoming a bit obsessive about certain manga characters etc

Would love some advice on this please; am feeling a bit teary today

Miggsie Thu 19-Jun-14 15:02:36

It may be worth buying "the unwritten rules of friendship" for her, it is quite useful - however if she is unlucky and these girls are not good friend material and she truly does have niche interests then it may be worth her pursuing friendships outside school via clubs or special interest web boards.

It also sounds like she would have more in common with boys but at 12 the sexes tend to split into polar groups and it does leave a few people stranded.

My DD has quirky interests - she loves comic books and lego - as a result her best friend is a boy (which they both get a fair amount of stick about) and in order to talk about comics she chats away to us and our adult friends who are into comics.

I was seen as quirky and weird at school - and only had a small friendship circle, it isn't a bad thing - one good friend is enough for most situations.

It may be best for her to pursue a 1-1 friendship rather than try to be part of a big group.

Authentique Thu 19-Jun-14 15:06:18

I understand in a way. I used to go to school far away and y friends from school could never come to my home. I also relate to being quirky. The best thing I would suggest you can do to reinforce your DD's self-esteem is let her know that she's good the way she is. My parents used ot tell me to care more about style and boy bands etc., which 1. just wasn't going to hapen and 2. made me feel as t hough my parents were on the side of the people exlcuding me. One thing I've foudn helped, but I don't know if this will inspire you in any way, is going on a summer camp that was alla bout computers (which was my special interest). I'm pretty sure there are anime/manga activities somewhere. The camp I attended was even international, so it doesn't have to Always be local.

Griftymoo Thu 19-Jun-14 15:06:20

Hi there, your daughter sounds lovely. I have a toddler rather than a teenager so I'm sure someone more qualified will come along shortly. But my thoughts are that your daughter sounds really creative and perhaps it would be a good idea to find a writing class or a group that she's interested in so that she can make friends with like minded people outside of school. It's great that she doesn't just follow the prevailing trends of her school peers but it must be tough. I often felt like an outsider during my school days so joined clubs that reflected my interests and ended up with a circle of friends outside of school.

Gatekeeper Fri 20-Jun-14 13:50:24

thank you; posts have affirmed what my husband has been telling me, that it's just the way she is. I don't want her feeling unhappy though but will stop banging on about her joining clubs, groups etc incase she starts to worry what she is, isn't 'good enough'

I was a quirky child and teen as was dh and I can still remember my mother saying " Why can't you be more like Janice''? etc etc

thank you all

bigTillyMint Fri 20-Jun-14 13:55:16

It sounds like she needs to find some friends with similar interests which might be easier out of school. Has she tried scouts/guides? Are there any art-type groups nearby (thinking Manga) or any groups in areas that she is interested in?

TheHoneyBadger Fri 20-Jun-14 14:17:29

i'd just go for finding ways to allow her to pursue the things she 'is' interested in and open up potential to meet people she does have things in common with that way.

who wants to fit in to that shit really? remind her about how different life is beyond school and encourage her to pursue her interests and her identity with confidence.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 20-Jun-14 14:19:10

random anecdote but my nextdoor neighbour is worried about his 19yo son not going out on the town or having loads in common with the wideboys he's at college with. from the outside it's quite clear that the son is 'alternative' for want of a better word but has never been exposed to circles he'd meet his own kind in. i've threatened to take him to a music festival.

actually there you go - take her to really family friendly alternative festivals over the summer.

TheHoneyBadger Fri 20-Jun-14 14:20:22

do it! go on. that would be my advice actually - find ways to show her how many different types of people there are in the world and cultures and subcultures that people belong to.

Gatekeeper Sat 21-Jun-14 07:40:09

Thanks once again; not much in the way of groups round here anyway and we have already tried scouts/guides. Will be keeping eyes and ears open for anything that might interest her. In durham so if anyone knows of anything happening let me know please.

Reassuring though that we aren't the only ones smile

Iseenyou Sat 21-Jun-14 07:56:31

I think it is hard for the quirky ones, who are not interested in make up etc, in year 7 - unless they are lucky enough to find a group of quirky geeky 'proud to be uncool' girls, they can have difficulty making friends in the first year. Things can improve though - i think as the girls grow older the gulf becomes less wide, and by yr 10 friendships can be very different. However thet is a long way off!
How large is your dd's school? She may just not have met her 'friends' yet - there probably are soulmates, but it can be hard to find them. Are there any Lunchtime clubs she could join where she would meet likeminded people - art club? Choir? Maybe ask her art teacher if she could set up a manga club?
She sounds lovely!

Outside school - Durham woodcraft folk? (just googled) . It may be a bit outdoorsy for your anime loving dd, but worth a try?

twentyten Sat 21-Jun-14 07:58:22

There are lots of teens interested in manga etc- she sounds great. Far better not to follow the crowd but tough. Is she aware of comic conventions? Gatherings full of people like her. Will ask dd for link later. The web is a good place to explore interests- with caveats!! Would her art teacher know of art groups?

mysteryfairy Sat 21-Jun-14 08:06:23

Did she go to a school with no primary school friends? My DD is a year 7 and although a lot of her friends are new we still have primary school contacts where I am friendly with mum and can play a part in organising things for out of school. Can you do that to give her some company.

I'm also actually still a bit nervous if DD makes an arrangement for out of school with no apparent adult involvement e.g. would be a bit thrown by a birthday thing that wasn't backed by an invite with mum/dad contact to RSVP to. Maybe if the arrangement was very loose other girls aren't at the stage of committing to that rather than actively rejecting her.

twentyten Sat 21-Jun-14 20:01:17

Dd 16 recommends if she doesn't know it- online art community. Dd says look at parental controls!

FedupofTurkey Sun 22-Jun-14 11:44:51

I have a similar thing with ds - most of his peers are into football, he isn't, he's happy enough bit I worry he's becoming isolated

AnonButRegular Sun 22-Jun-14 11:53:10

Have PM'd you op thanks

TeenAndTween Sun 22-Jun-14 12:08:02

My DD1 didn't really find the like minded friends until end y8.
They were there, it just took time to come across them.

Takver Sun 22-Jun-14 12:54:37

I do think that encouraging her to look a bit more widely for friendships might be the best thing. My dd is 12, also in yr 7 - she says that she has nothing in common with the girls in her class because they are all obsessed with sport, particularly rugby which they play every break time, and music, neither of which are her 'thing'.

She's made friends through lunchtime clubs in school, a couple in her year but also girls in older years through hanging out in the library. Funnily enough one particular friend is a yr 9 girl who is obsessed with manga/comics. Out of school her two closest friends are both boys (but boys who don't like rugby!!!)

Jinsei Sun 22-Jun-14 13:11:16

I was a bit like this at the lower end of secondary school. Miserable and lonely for a good few years, and I never even told my parents as I didn't want them to worry. Didn't really find my niche until the sixth form, when I suddenly found a fantastic friendship group that randomly included some of the "coolest" kids who I would never have dreamt of even approaching previously. Suddenly, being clever and quirky was good - who knew?!

My dd is quirky in a lot of ways too, and doesn't like a lot of the stuff that her friends are into. However, she seems to attract friends despite her quirkiness, and she is very popular. I have spent a lot of time pondering the difference between me and her, and I think it's confidence. DD is totally comfortable in her own skin and doesn't worry about being different. She accepts herself and gives off positive vibes to others about who she is - and I'm guessing I didn't.

I don't know what I'm saying really, maybe just that it might help to work on your dd's self esteem and confidence, and that the friendships might follow by themselves. It's awful to feel left out at school. I feel for her.

Bellini81 Sun 22-Jun-14 21:31:24

I could have written your exact post, my year 7 dd is going through the exact same thing, she is funny, gorgeous, clever but isn't fitting in with her peer group. She spends some breaks alone and tries so hard to fit in but doesn't 'fangirl' over grown men in 'boybands' so doesn't have that in common. Its heartbreaking and keeping me awake at 4am and made me cry on occasion. Watching this thread with interest.

hellymelly Sun 22-Jun-14 21:46:01

I feel for you op. My elder dd is year 4, but I think this will be her in year 7. I was similar too but as another poster has said, I went from being teased and thought nerdy to being cool, with all the girls who had looked donw on me wanting to borrow my (large collection) vintage clothes. I agree that finding like minded people out of school for the next two or three years would help, and then the others will have caught up bit and she will have more kudos than she does now, when the alpha girl groups are all like sheep.

Iseenyou Tue 24-Jun-14 07:05:30

I think jinsei makes a very good point - it's all about confidence. We all know of the quirky, determinedly uninterested in make up, hair etc girl who is well liked and accepted, even a bit held in awe - and it's because they are confident and happy in themselves. But it's easy to see how you get into a vicious circle at the beginning of secondary school - if you feel like an outsider because of no shared interests you lose confidence, then you become even less 'appealing' to other girls, then lose confidence even more so even shyer and not able to 'find' the girls with shared interests - and on it goes.
I think that's why outside school activities can be so helpful - they can develop confidence, and that feeds into being accepted at school. But anything that they're really 'into' can help - they don't have to be that good at it, but if they really enjoy it - drawing, music, a sport - can help make them feel that they're great as they are. Parents can help (a bit) by saying you're great as you are as well - though sadly they don't always convince their dteens (you're my dparents, you would say that!)

How are things this week gatekeeper?

Gatekeeper Tue 24-Jun-14 09:54:57

thank you once again for all your lovely replies; AnonButRegular will pm you a bit later smile

Confidence is def. the key and she keeps saying about having none/low esteem etc. Me and dh tell her something good about her every day and never put her down, but like Iseenyou says it's a case of 'well you would say that, you're my mam' etc

She keeps talking about "the popular girls" and I mentally want to shake her to make her stop. I feel she is wistful and at odds with her thinking - one one hand she thinks 'those girls' are a waste of time as all they talk about is handbags etc but she would like to be popular as well <sigh>

She is staying back for an afterschool art class tonight; there is a manga/anime one on but only for year 9 and over but better than nothing.

She is adamant that she doesn't want to do sport "please don't force me mam" so even though I feel it may be beneficial I don't want to do that as she would lose trust in me.

Other than that, I am unsure- finances prevent a lot of stuff, school doesn't do much in the way of interesting afterschool stuff and there just isn't anything else happening in and around a ex pit village!

Thank you for listening and let me ramble though- it does help as it puts my thoughts into perspective and I can also get feedback from other parents who are/were in the same boat <waves>

FedupofTurkey Tue 24-Jun-14 10:27:04

I'm worried this will be my ds at secondary - his form will have no- one he knows, hates sports, he's on a back step before he's even started. I could cry for him sad

Gatekeeper Tue 24-Jun-14 10:30:16

it's awful isn't it ? Sometimes at night I will start to think about it and get myself into a horrible lurching panic at the thought of her standing on her own at lunchtime etc

jeee Tue 24-Jun-14 10:35:26

You seem very negative about the other girls - "identikit.... with their pouts and Groucho Marx eyebrows." Some of these "identikit" girls will feel just as isolated as your DD - I think you maybe need to encourage your DD to look behind the make-up. She might just find that there are girls out there who don't look like her... but are very similar (albeit under a thick layer of foundation).

Gatekeeper Tue 24-Jun-14 11:10:42

jeee I take your point but can only go on what dd has told me, that they tend to be tedious to the extreme in their conversations (to her) in their speech and are rather condescending and sneery about dd calling her 'geeky' and 'nerdish'

Makes me come over all "Grrr- the little madams" etc etc grin

TheAmyrlin Tue 24-Jun-14 11:30:09

My DD, yr7, is also into anime. But she watches it with DS who is 16. My DD has decided that she doesn't want to be popular or hang round with the popular kids. Mainly because they seem to get into trouble, don't do well at school and are not very nice.
Does she play any musical instruments? If she does, joining a youth orchestra may be a good idea. You get more of the 'quirky & geeky' interesting kids in them. My DD loves the youth orchestra she attends. ( though that may have something to do with the tuck shop!)

Takver Tue 24-Jun-14 15:01:54

"I'm worried this will be my ds at secondary - his form will have no- one he knows, hates sports"

Don't panic too much - dd has made some good friends among the boys, and as I say in her form it seems like the girls are the sporty bunch on average, with the boys being more varied in their interests. DD now has a boyfriend (!) who goes to poetry club with her grin

shadypines Wed 25-Jun-14 20:50:02

Hugs to you Gatekeeper, Bellini and Turkey, infact all of you worried about your DDs and DS in similar situations. And Gatekeeper your DD sounds lovely, she really does,
it's great you tell her something positive everyday, keep it going, every little helps.

I think we all know the feeling of being awake at 4am adding to our grey hair numbers, I certainly do.

OP she sounds similar to my D (12yr) too, she had a great struggle all the way through Primary to find any friends as she was never into 'girly' stuff, boybands (she loves Little Mix though!), she is talkative but not good at conversations IYSWIM, she's querky and gets really emotional about serious topics (esp animal welfare), she loves art but is more into Pokémon and writing stories. She is now finding a few nice friends at high school, yr 7, but has never had anyone home and has no one here except her brother. From my experience with her I would say encourage your daughter to be her own person and like what she likes, that said, even if she doesn't like the particular things the other girls talk about, it might do her no harm to take a passing interest. I think this is part of growing up too, we can't all like the same things but we have to rub along with all sorts. It would be nice if she could meet someone with similar interests so stick at trying to find clubs both inside and outside school.

Would she be interested in having a pen friend, I have seen people asking this question on here if they think their DCs might get along?

Oh and what I said earlier about giving her more confidence and saying positive stuff, I recently watched the film The Help with DD. Have you seen it, I was quoting it to DD the other day when she was telling me she thought she was ugly and some lines from the film really helped to make her feel more confident ( if you've not seen it apologies as you won't know what the heck I'm on about!)

Your story about Nandos was upsetting for me to read so I can imagine how awful you must have felt. This is really really mean ( I HATE Facebook). Your DD deserves better people if you ask me. Keep strong. and more hugs flowers

proudmama2772 Thu 26-Jun-14 09:51:31

Gatekeeper. My heart goes out to you.

There are so many kids that can fall into this situation, even kids that are doing well socially in one school can change schools and be in the same boat as your daughter.

We're all a bit quirky, but as adults generally more accepting of idiosyncrasies. It sounds like she is dealing with rejection and keeps speaking about the popular girls because she is looping around the issue. She needs to make her peace with realizing there is actually nothing wrong with her and she is not defective. She is just a bit unlucky in her current social circumstance. I would tell her that a lot of people find themselves in her situation and are perfectly normal. Kids start getting nicer.

As I'm writing this I know it is all much more easily said than done. it's a hardship I went through at her age myself - having moved to a new area into a fee paying school where all the kids had known each other since toddlers. I wish I had had a Mum as concerned with helping as you are

Susiesue61 Sat 28-Jun-14 06:12:26

I'm sitting here because I can't sleep, fretting about Dd and friends! She is 12 and really into sport, she plays football and cricket to a good standard. She has only gone up with 1 friend from primary school who she has stayed friends with, but they don't really do much out of school. She seems to have a group of friends who all do sleepovers etc without including her, although I have had them all here. She does talk about lots of other girls, and when I've seen her at school things, she seems to know everyone.

Last night, we went to my friends daughter's birthday party. She is also 12 and one of the popular girls at her school. Luckily one of Dd's school friends also knows her and was invited. Dd was so nervous, looked like MrsUncomfortable and refused to go back for a sleep because another girl was going. She was fine with her friend though.

This is very waffly! What I'm getting at is, it breaks my heart how my daughter has gone from having lots of friends at primary and being invited to lots of things, to having not been invited to one party or trip out in a whole year. She does have quite a negative attitude to other people and I don't think that helps. Is this unusual for year 7?

Sorry if this doesnt fit on this thread blush

twentyten Sat 28-Jun-14 11:25:10

Awe susie. It's so hard- and to all you others in similar situations. We just want to fix everything for them like we could when they were very small. It's hard. All we can do is try and equip them the best we can with skills, resources and unconditional love.

Takver Sat 28-Jun-14 16:27:18

Susiesue, I think maybe they don't do as much stuff out of school in yr 7 as in primary, especially if they live further apart.

DD took a fair while to settle in secondary, but she genuinely seems happy and to have friends that she really likes - but in the whole year there's been one sleepover with a friend and one birthday party (the latter in the first week of school) apart from her own.

She sees non-school friends at weekends/holidays, but doesn't make any effort to meet up with school friends, even though we've said they're always welcome here & we'd happily provide transport or bus fares if she wanted to go to their house / into town shopping, swimming or whatever.

Earlybird Sat 28-Jun-14 17:34:47

Sympathies. I have a dd aged 13, who has experienced (still is) some of the things you describe.

Can you help her revive a friendship with someone she's lost touch with from primary school?
Is there anyone who lives locally - doesn't have to be a classmate.
Do you have any friends with daughters of a similar age? It can be lovely to do some mother/daughter things - just let the girls go off while you have a natter with your friend.

My dd - just like yours - complains of feeling left out, but can be hesitant to try new things. I've insisted that dd give several new things a go. Fair enough if she doesn't like them, but at least, try them out. Can you do the same with your dd? She might find something she likes, and then perhaps can find a friend there.

Sometimes I arrange for dd and a friend to do activity based things that are not dependent on them making conversation. So, we've taken friends swimming, gone to the cinema, gone 10 pin bowling, seen an art exhibition, done paint-your-own-pottery, cooking at home, etc. Almost all of these are on weekends or over school breaks when people tend to be more available and not so caught up in the school friendship groups.

One last idea: dd is not sporty, but I am encouraging her to stay fit. Once a week, she and a girl from school go to the local leisure centre and take a zumba class. They are by far the youngest in the class, but there is a fun/young instructor who they enjoy. They then go for a drink at a nearby coffee shop, and I pick them up from there. It is an activity that brings them together outside school for a few hours every week, and both girls look forward to that time in their schedule.

Good luck, and let us know how you/dd get on. This can be a tricky age socially.

Susiesue61 Sat 28-Jun-14 20:20:20

Thank you all for taking the trouble to reply. I think part of her issue is that her primary school friends have all moved on and she feels embarassed to be clinging on to them.

We've had a lovely day today, the opposite of yesterday. Just me her and Ds who's 8, we've pottered round and done some shopping, no pressure to socialise or not be herself. And tomorrow she's playing cricket which is totally her thing smile

I need to focus on her being happy , rather than on what everyone else is doing. And thanks Takver, for reminding me that they're not all out at parties every weekend!

She will meet a kindred spirit at some point, I'm sure

ExCinnamon Sat 28-Jun-14 20:42:21

Hi Op, I have a 15yo DD who was and still is exactly like yours.
Into anime, manga, fan fiction, writing her stories and drawing.
Not interested in make up, boys, clothes.

Today I went clothes shopping for her for her work experience.

She does play in several youth orchestras and has found a different set of friends there, all from different schools and different ages.

She has never tried to fit in, has no self esteem problems but does feel alone and isolated. No wonder if all the other girls at school talk about is stuff she's not remotely interested in - and she refuses to talk about.

She never talks about the other girls though, she's not interested in them, they are frequently in trouble, have boyfriends etc. She lives in a parallel universe, but has made it comfortable there and is mostly happy in her skin.
I think this is most important. Your DD should stop trying to fit in where she won't be really happy, but try and find people who share her interests so she can be who she really is. And so she can develop into the person she is meant to be.

perthmom Thu 31-Jul-14 06:14:26

My DD talks about the "popular girls" too, of which she is definitely not one. She is bright, lovely, kind and intelligent but not into boys yet and not into "being cool" and hanging around trying to look cool or haughty or whatever it is these kids think they're doing. She did have 2 good friends, but unfortunately she has now become the third wheel and they're both being bitchy towards her and whispering about her. She quite often spends lunchtime alone and it breaks my heart too, as I also wasn't popular at school. She can carry on a conversation with adults and is almost more at ease with adults than her peers. She starts high school next year and I really hope she finds friends / a friend that she clicks with. I have recently enrolled her in drama classes outside school to help with her confidence and also enable her to meet people who are not part of the school clique.

shadypines Thu 31-Jul-14 20:54:56

Perthmom your DD sounds lovely, good on you about the drama class, that will be great. If you read my earlier post in this thread she sounds a lot like my DD who has just found some friends first year at High school, I used to be so sad for her in primary sad.

Virtual hugs to you and for your DD

perthmom Sat 02-Aug-14 02:54:48

Thank you Shadypines, I'm hoping high school will be better.

fonduechinoise Sun 07-Sep-14 08:44:04

Is yr dd happier a few months on? Our DDs seem very similar. Sadly i live abroad so can't suggest a meet up! My dd loves mangas too! She has lots of self confidence issues. She is quirky too, i tell her the world would be boring if we were all the same type of people. No suggestion to offer but thinking of you and yr dd.

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