Just had a phone call from DDs headteacher(65 Posts)
My DD is age 9 this weekend - and really struggling to fit in socially at school. This time last year we spent months worrying about whether to move schools or not for a fresh start etc.
Finally decided yes, she would do better in a smaller school, fresh start, all girls - moved about 6 months ago.
I thought everything was OK, but it seems not now that I have had the call from the head.
Other girls dont want to play with her, or sit with her in class etc.
I have tried with her, I know she is impatient and we have worked through books on speaking to others nicely, and treating everyone with respect.
Is she doomed, will she ever grow out of this - or is it just going to get worse?
Her dad will go crazy if he finds out - its costing us ££ to send her to this school and he will think waste of time.
Does anyone have any practical advice, or just something new for us to try with her?
Like should we withhold extra-curicular stuff, like use it as a reward - or is this the completely wrong thing to do?
Really worrying now, as she has invited half the class to a birthday party this weekend - and I hope they haven't been sent under duress from the parents, and dont really want to be coming.
thanks if you have read this far - just want some advice please
What did the ht suggest? Does your dd have any hobbies or interests? If she has had troubles socially could it make her act aggressive as a self defense mechanism? What is she like at home?
Did you discuss her issues when you started her at the school? Have the school put any strategies in place to help her learn to socialise better?
Hello, I'm sorry that you've had problems. Can you be a bit more specific? What type of things does your daughter say which do not show respect for others, and is the saying of such things typical?
How does being impatient impede her progress in making friends specifically?
Why do you think that other girls wouldn't want to sit next to her in class?
Is she an only child? If not how does she interact with siblings/cousins?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Yes, the new school knew she moved in middle of term last year because she wasnt getting on socially. eg no friends at all, no birthday invites etc - the old school were not interested in offering advice or help.
HT said she has spoken to her alone, and to the class - and they are having anti-bullying whole of next week too, which kind of ties in.
She said DD has been speaking to class mates without respect, and she said it was behaviour she would see in older girls more oftern, say in the final year at primary.
She plays sport after school and drama at weekends - but I dont know whether to use these as 'rewards' for better behaviour, or try something else?
I have to go now to pick her up at 3pm, am dreading the other mums ( I dont really know any of them anyway as we are still new) but paranoid that they all think my DD is illmannered and rude.
I wouldn't withdraw her from extra curricular. You want to optimise her chances for learning & practising good social behaviour, I would have thought.
I wouldn't withhold extra curricular stuff. It would be counter productive as they are social learning opportunities.
Does she have friends out of school?
You say she does drama. Any opportunity to use role play to show the effect of her manner?
The head must have said more than that.
Is he saying that the other children are just excluding her?
Or is he saying that your dd is "being nasty" and the other children are being upset by her? I know that sounds mean on my part, but "being impatient" could mean anything from she won't wait for them to go to dinner (because she wants to be first in the line-but then isn't sitting with them, which is not nasty, although children can interpret that) or she's saying things like "you can't do that... see how quickly I can do it. You're such a baby..." (which is upsetting and nasty)
Either way it sounds like you need a meeting of you, the head, and the form teacher for how you are moving this forward. It's not enough to say "they're not getting on"; the school and you have to work to make sure they do get on. Help your dd to be less impatient, and the other children to be more tolerant, they must be measures in place to do this.
If she's socially been struggling for some time, she may well need extra help learning to interact in a "normal" way. She may sound very aggressive to the other girls as a natural defense to the way she's been treated in the past.
Did you actually raise an issue with the HT and ask for feedback?
He surely didn't ring to tell you this out of a clear blue sky
Or is your dd being disruptive?
Your DD doesn't sound a very happy child. Or have I got this wrong? What about neighbours children and other children like her cousins if she has any. Does she get on OK with them. It's difficult to tell whether it's the other children being nasty or are they avoiding your DD because she is nasty to them. Till you get to the bottom of the reasons I don't think you can begin to tackle the problem.
Has anyone ever considered a social communication disorder?
It's not really possible to tell from your description - ie is she deliberately being a bitch, or is she unthinkingly cruel because she is brutally honest, and genuinely doesn't understand that honesty isn't always the best policy?
Is she saying 'your handwriting is very bad, Chloe. It looks like a two year olds', and if so, why? You need to know the motivation (or not) behind the reasons she is being excluded.
Some children are catastrophically rude because they have really very low self esteem, and are trying desperately to big themselves up - and others genuinely do think they are bees knees and everyone else is inferior. Others still speak as they see stuff, and don't understand that people might find that offensive, because Chloe really does have astonishingly bad handwriting, and they are telling the truth.... Why would anyone be offended by the truth?
I suspect she would have been better off in a state school, as in a private you are probably going to end up paying for any additional interventions required.
The ht should be discussing the school strategies with you as to how they intend to move forward. Friendship circles, one to one or small group work, and possibly assessment by an educational psychologist. Full assessment - including full iq testing, and a battery that includes social communication stuff.
And as I suspect that the school will not be offering to pay for that, you may need to consider getting a private evaluation done, or going to your gp and requesting a referral to developmental paediatrician or camhs, and a psych veal that way.
What is your gut feeling?
Is she an overconfident and full of herself kid?
Is she under confident and bigs herself up to try and make people like her?
Has she always been like this?
Any developmental red flags along the way?
What does the ht intend for school to do to fix this issue?
I'm sorry if I've misunderstood, but your posts read as though the HT phones to tell you that your DD is being bullied and that you are considering punishing her for being excluded by her classmates.
Or have I got it wildly wrong and your DD is doing the bullying?
Does she have behavioural problems or is she just not getting on with people?
What is she like at home or in her other activities?
Maybe you and she should see a psychologist?
There's a girl like this in dd's class. She was shockingly overbearing at dd's party (shouting at another girl who she had never even met before) and seems to be always telling other dc what to do, as if she is in a position of authority over them. She can also be very kind when anyone is in trouble (though I guess this is when she feels powerful - there is a definite control issue there). My niece has a similar issue (and actually changed schools like your dd).
What to do? It's really tricky because so many small girls seem very very bossy (not to mention us mothers!!). I definitely would continue with the extra-curricular activities to help her manage groups, and I would be asking the head and teacher for advice and asking her teacher to give me specific and regular feedback on her behaviour. I would be asking dd about specific conflicts - in a 'how else might you have dealt with that' kind of way. I would also ask her to keep a mental note of how she spoke to people, and to see if she could think of a time when she spoke nicely or calmly to another girl each day - eg make it a nice challenge for her. I would also be trying to teach her her to just keep quiet in times of stress or irritation - yoga, simple breathing as you count to ten or five etc.
Her bday party is an opportunity to give other girls a good time - so I would explain that as the host it is absolutely her responsibility to be kind and generous to others, and to speak nicely at all times. If possible, set up a playdate too, and do some kind of controlled activity - I always do baking and decorating cakes and cookies when friendships feel a bit tricky. It is a nice thing for girls to do together (with me), and is not too intense.
Another thought is that it could have something to do with hormones. Hard to manage feelings when you are hormonal, and girls of 8/9 do seem to get hormonal quite often.
It sounds as though the dd has always had these traits, though pecans.
I wouldn't be stopping extra curricula r's tbh. But I would be discussing her behaviour with the instructors at all of them, for both feedback, and also to implement the same strategies that you and school come up with - and to ask for their support in helping dd understand the respectful way to behave - ie she must take her turn in drama class and not talk over everyone else/ whatever is the issue.
I think her birthday party is a great opportunity for a new friendship group to be cemented, but you need to be absolutely on top of preparing her for her role (host, not star of the show) and redirect her into ensuring her guests have a good time... She can blow the candles out, natch.
Gosh where to start, thanks everyone.
I picked her up as usual today - she was happy and smiling and unprompted said she had been to see HT today and that she wanted to talk to her about the old school and friendships etc. DD didn't say or think she was in any trouble.
The HT said she phoned me today as they want to nip any potential trouble in the bud as it were. She said DD is behaving like an older girl and the others might not like it.
I don't think there is any bullying issues but I do think it sounds like my DD has no manners and I find that a bit embarrassing as its a reflection of my parenting.
Am dreading the party now - but your comments about using this as an opportunity to be nice, have a good time and be a good host ate something we will work on for sure.
I really do think she is oblivious to anyone not liking her at the new school - but in some ways that makes me sadder for her. I just feel like crying
Off to make buns now as she can bring them in tomorrow for her birthday and she has planned this all week so don't want to stop her.
I am going to re read all these helpful messages again later
angelinterceptor how would you describe your DD?
My first instinct is that you must not punish your DD for not fitting in. If she is genuinely not being deliberately unkind, then you are simply punishing her for something that she is already being punished for by consequences.
Do you think it's possible that she has a SN of some sort?
I would also really consider that she may have an SN. If she really doesn't understand how her behaviour is perceived or that others may not like her.
I would certainly consider going to see the GP to get a referral to a specialist paediatrician.
How difficult for you, I do sympathise. Does the school have an inclusion manager or special needs coordinator? If so, I would ask to meet with them for advice on how to boost her social skills, they may be able to suggest some games etc.
As this is the second school this has happened at, it is not just a passing phase, and I think if it were my child, I would want her assessed by an educational pyschologist (who can observe her interacting with peers). They may also be able to suggest strategies to help her, as well as ruling out underlying social communication disorders. I really hope you get the answers and support you need for her.
Perhaps the school you chose to move her to was not the best choice. All girls and small could easily equate to friendship groups already well set and probably not a lot of regular new starters. That may well have been a difficult environment for someone who already has issues to integrate into . FWIW my daughter attended a small private school and had issues with friendships , although had loads of local friends , we removed her and sent her to a local primary in YR 5 and she settled really well and fitted in beautifully ( didn't know anyone before she started) . I sometimes think its just a matter of finding the right place and maybe you haven't found it yet . Good luck with your party ,I hope it goes well .
I think the HT is being proactive bearing in mind the history which is a good thing. You clearly care very much. Your DD is in safe hands !
I have spoken to her while we are making the buns.
She definitely thinks that everyone is her friend at the moment at the school despite the fact that she has not been invited to anyone's house yet - only 2 full class type parties.
We have invited one girl once which was great and another girl who cancelled on us twice which made me paranoid!
Old school called her bossy and trying o organise everyone. Of course other children don't like that which I have explained to her time and time again.
She is very sociable and i honestly can't believe she has these kind of problems sometimes.
Although she likes to be in control and I think she likes playing with the P1s and 2s ( perhaps she organises them I don't know). She seems to be more comfortable with slightly older girls so outside of school her friend are one or two school years ahead.
We don't have any neighbours to play with. On holidays she always makes friends easily at campsites or whatever.
Have a great book "the unwritten rules of friendship" which we shall try to tackle again.
But she thinks I am making a fuss that there is no need as she isn't rude or Unthoughtful to anyone so I wonder I'd it's in one ear and out the other.
I might try talking to her tennis coach - he is the only person who might get though to her.
Another thing, don't know if relevant. She is a stickler for rules, so uniform rules or perceiving others to be breaking rules seems to upset her.
At moment she is crying in living room because I am accusing her of being mean
I really don't understand the problem. The HT spoke to you because she's bossy? That hardly warrants HT getting involved does it?
Children are very perceptive in my experience. If she was being isolated she'd know about it. As it is, she seems happy enough with her friends etc.
Ok so she hasn't been invited to parties but that could (and most likely will) change after her party. After all, she is new! But she may be invited back after this party.
I think there's some unnecessary worrying here. I apologise if I've missed something though!
Hi angel, I would be a bit concerned about your Dd stressing about the rules. When you say she is a stikler, would she tell someone they are breaking a rule or worse would she tell the teacher??
This is a real big social no no and will definitely not help her making friends, it would also suggest that she might as someone said upthread has a social communication disorder.
These are very easily missed in girls as they often appear to be sociable but they lack the skills to maintain friendships.
No she is not being isolated at all. She loves this school and thinks se has lots of friends in class.
Her teacher told me last month that 4 or 5 girls in the class told her they didn't want to be say next to DD.
She said DD was mature compared to the others and so there were problems sometimes. My DD seemed to be the common denominator each time an as she is new and everyone was fine before
Today the HT phoned me out of the blue, she didn't mention anything specific just that the dynamics in class has changed and not for the better.
They have said they will work with us - but I don't really know what I should be doing.
I will try to speak to the teacher or HT tomorrow if I get a chance to clarify things.
Thx everyone for advice and comments
Your dd sounds a bit like I was at school - I'm dyspraxic and only know understand how my behaviour must have appeared at school, people thinking i was being rude and talking down to them - i didn't understand at all.
I have no ideas of dyspraxia - will google now but I fear it's maybe bad manners and lack of empathy or others feelings.
hmm...I'd be inclined to say I'd hold off on worrying too much until you receive some clarification about what exactly the problem is.
It all sounds very ambiguous! Good luck!
Being new is tough and she may feel the need to assert herself but an assessment may be worthwhile as it is a pattern of behaviour. Have you considered that she may be on the autistic spectrum for example? That can manifest in varying degrees and different ways but social/communication issues are fairly typical. Suggest a meeting with the Head/Form teacher and SENCO and ask for advice as to how to go forward. Also be aware that some private schools are not geared up to handle SEN well.
angelinterceptor, please don't think she has bad manners. I'm quite sure from your description that this is not the case.
Whatever the cause of the dynamics, they will need to be dealt with. However, if your DD does have social communication difficulties, rather than simply bad manners and a superscilious nature, then you will be trying to discipline her out of something that is far more ingrained than 'behaviour' and a completely different approach will be needed.
The only analogy I can think of, is telling someone who has asthma to get a grip and just run, when in fact they can hardly breathe.
The girl in dd's class also is very into rules and telling everyone if they are breaking them, as was another girl in the previous school. But I think a lot of girls are into rules - both my dds certainly are, and they tell me every day who has been naughty etc (both of them can tell me exactly who is on the naughty side of the board each day, for example, and who is losing how many minutes of golden time).
Wanting to obey rules and noticing how other people break them aren't problematic - consistently telling other people off for their transgressions is annoying! That's what some girls need help with (and all of them need a bit of a lesson in just letting other people be). I have done quite a lot of 'was it your business to say that?' with dds.
I think reading the friendship book together sounds like a good starting point for your dd.
Just out of interest, what happens if she gets told by another child that she isn't following the rules?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Update for everyone who was kind enough to offer advice last week (apologies for spelling as I'm on the phone).
The birthday party went well with 9 other girls from the class. It was at an outdoor activity centre, led by an instructor. She didn't boss her way round or insist on being first on anything which I might have expected. In fact she hung back and kept a shyer less able girl on some of the ropes assault type course.
I was very happy with her behaviour - in fact some of the other girls were more boisterous et
My DH overheard some of the girls saying they DD always gets the blame in school , but that's all he heard. Made us wonder though if the new girl is getting the blame for everything.
All the girls said they had a good time and I was with them for around 4 hours so plenty of time for something to kick off.
Today I had another call from the HT straight to voicemail so I will need to call her tomorrow. She said there was another incident today. I asked my DD and it sounds like nothing but little girls telling tales and getting the wrong end of the stick.
I am no further on but I think I will ask about referral or child psychologist if possible. She genuinely doesn't know why the other girls are making a fuss or complaining about her.
I think it might be an idea to press the head for further details. What does she actually say when she is being bossy? What does she do? If you are going to see a psychologist you will need to be able to give details of exactly the kind of behaviour that is going on. Being bossy could mean so many different things. Explain to the head that you want to support the school but you can only do so if you get a clear understanding of your dd's problems.
Ok, firstly, I am glad the party went well. Secondly, I'm just going to come out and ask if you have ever considered that she may have a mild social communication disorder. I ask because I have seen similar behaviour before and the girl in question had aspergers. I don't want to alarm you but as well as the social difficulties you also talked about her being a stickler for rules.
Girls with aspergers often present very differently to boys with the condition. Girls are very good at masking it and developing strategies which mask the condition. They often have no problems with speech and can be incredibly social, sometimes too social in a way that makes other children back away.
I would really speak to your gp and ask for a referral. If it is nothing, it's nothing and no harm done. But, if it does turn out that she has a social comm disorder then getting her help at this point before she goes to secondary school could make a massive difference to her life.
Good luck with it all.
I haven't been able to get through to the HT today on the phone, so I will go in early before pick-up and see if I can make an appointment to see her soon.
I have no experience of Aspergers or anything like this, or any other condition.
I think it is likely something though - she is a really pleasant girl most of the time, I guess a little demanding, and now that I think about it, the GPs aren't falling over themselves to offer babysitting or help (but then both sets are busy, and I never really ask them).
She thinks everyone is out to get her now, she was really upset last night, thinks she will never fit in, or be liked. It breaks my heart to hear her say things like "there is something wrong with me, I'm different"
thanks for advice, its really very helpful to speak to someone about it - I think there is no harm in contacting GP, but I dont know how DD will feel about this.
Were it to turn out to be AS or something related she may find it a relief to be able to put a name to her stresses and that people want to help her cope.
Maybe this will help
[http://www.livestrong.com/article/96987-aspergers-symptoms-girls/ and here]
Sorry, I'll try again,
[www.livestrong.com/article/96987-aspergers-symptoms-girls and here]
Hope they work this time.
Sorry, bloody iPad. Just paste them into your bar.
Your poor DD . I hope you able to reassure her that there is nothing wrong with her and that people do like her! How horrid to be told that people don't like you for you rather than because you have done something specifically nasty.
She sounds like my DS1 in personality, actually. He has all the negative and positive traits you describe. He doesn't get many birthday invitations either and doesn't have a group of close friends at school. But he gets on with everyone in his class most of the time, is relatively popular or at least not unpopular and is happy at school.
Do you think perhaps your DD suffers more due to being a girl as they tend to have "best friends" and small friendships groups whereas boys just muck in together? My son gets away with not having one particular close friend by being sort of friends with everyone but I do appreciate that girls are very different.
Do you also think that perhaps the headteacher is overreacting e.g give a dog a bad name and hang him? She knows your DD left that school for being unpopular and is automatically blaming her for this apparent change in the dynamics of your DD's class. I have seen teachers guilty of this several times e.g the "naughty" child gets into trouble for the smallest infraction that would be ignored in a "good" child. Your DH's overheard comment really rings alarm bells for me.
Perhaps your DD just isn't a popular person. As long as she's not nasty or bullying others then I can't see the issue. It would be very, very unfair of you to consider punishing her or somehow blaming her for being who she is. You can't ask her to change who she is and you should accept her for who she is personality faults and all.
I would be demanding a meeting with the headteacher and asking them what they are doing to do about the fact that your DD is being ignored and excluded (apparently). After all, she is a new class member and the school should actively encourage friendships and stamp down on petty bullying and meanness e.g. "I don't want to sit with her" etc.
Sorry for long post. But I think you need to take your DD's side more than you are doing. You are looking to blame her for being bossy or whatever. I think the school are doing your DD a great disservice and I would be up there tomorrow all guns blazing if I were you.
Please hug your DD, don't let her cry and think there is something wrong with her that she can't change.
I think the HT is trying to be super-efficient, and nip any recurrence of your DDs troubles at her old school, in the bud.I think he is being overzealous.
Kids grow up rubbing the corners of each other (and they nearly all do have corners) Most of the time it needs no adult intervention.
I do not have a particular advice, but my Reception year DS is often awkward with his peers at school (doesn't greet back, runs away in the middle conversation etc.). He appears either rude or shy. I do think he has some traits of the behavioral spectrum, not that I am strong believer in looking for disorders.
The only thing I know - for a school weak in SEN it will appear very subtle and they will not know how to deal with it. Private schools normally have very weak SEN support.
I would have gone somewhere with stronger SEN support. Your DD is probably perfectly normal, with her own awkwardness, but teachers understanding the situation would be better.
Btw do not stop sports. And probably something like martial arts could be beneficial.
I would be asking the HT for a behaviour specialist to go in and observe.
This is what we did for DS2, he was very unaware of why this person was in the class/playground and it gave an outsider a chance to give his feedback without being on one side or the other. It helped immensely.
Because DS2 was a bit of a class clown, whenever anything went wrong he always got the blame and stood up and took the punishment whether he was in the wrong or not. This was observed on a few occasions.
We worked together with the behaviour specialist and the HT (who IMO was a bloody witch) and things got better.
God, I used to dread the phone calls and emails from her.
Is it possible that she might be picking up tone and attitude from either TV or from attempting to emulate adults around her ?
I'm not having a dig its just I know when I'm a mardy old bag it comes out exactly the same from my eight year old.
Thanks everyone again I met the HT on Thursday. - I am now convinced they are intervening in situations where the girls need to learn how to work it out themselves.
They have a no blame approach so things this week seem to have been on a group activity, role play or discussion rather than focusing on DD or the girl who is now the one who reports her for not being her friend today!
It does seem to have boiled down to this- DD being new and all the others being there since pre-Sch are in little friendship groups already. DD has tried to join some of these groups and according the the HT now is very popular which. Is half the trouble. She can't split herself into many pieces an break time - so it would appear that girls will run to teacher and say DD wont be my friend today.
DD is unaware that this might hurt anyone's feelings so that is what we are going to be working on.
Looks like school are keeping a watch on her - but I hope they are also watching some Of the others because they were no Angela at the birthday party.
Sorry for typos ( on phone with fat fingers)
Riggght- this makes a bit more sense- and a lot more straight forward than an AS diagnosis.
So she just needs to work on balancing her friends and playin with everyone to make sure everyone feels happy?
That isn't as difficult/bad. And I think the teacher is spot on- your daughter is more mature (doesn't see the issue with multiple friendship groups) an the others don't like it (still very young in their emotional age and attachment to friends).
I'd continue to work with her about positive relationships and how to say 'no' in a nice way. My DP is like this! Lots and lots of friends and would upset certain ones when he was younger (and some even though they're adults!) and had to learn how to manage people's reactions and be able to move in and out of groups.
Everything OP wrote in this morning's post is what I was suspecting (not happy to see it confirmed, though).
Hope you find a good way thru.
I think if she had social problems before she probably still sees herself in that way, with low self-esteem, and this manifests as social clumsiness. I sent DS to a school with a good rep for pastoral care when he reached a similar place.
That doesn't really gel with what the class teacher told you last month, though, does it? She didn't say 'ooh my, DD is so incredibly popular that everyone is fighting over her.' She said '4 or 5 girls have said they don't want to sit next to your DD.'
You also moved her school because she was struggling socially.
This doesn't sound at all like your analysis of the HT meeting fits with that, sorry.
Yes she has very low self esteem and we will work on that along with the other methods of keeping the other girls happy.
I'm confused too, one minute she is unpopular and the next everyone wants to be her friend!
Anyway hope things improve over the next few weeks as we reach the end if another term.
Very volatile friendships at this age.
lljkk, that may be true. But should the head be getting involved? Sledgehammer to crack a nut, if you ask me.
I agree 99%... yet I needed DS private school to get hands on to help him socially. And doubtless OP told HT from outset that she wanted her DD to be supported socially. I don't really know what DS school did right, but by having a very small class they could quickly spot & calm many social problems.
Perhaps DS school had so many oddballs that DS found his own way (perhaps).
So maybe I think OP's HT should be hands-off but then again I think that HT also needs to help OP & her DD to see how up and down friendships and social status can go. To learn to ride with it, a bit.
I would have thought if she was truly unpopular, OP, nobody would have come to the party.
But a head getting involved gives a serious impression to what appears to be a trivial matter. I can't see why the teacher couldn't have sorted it out, (if it needs sorting at all.)
Private school, OP paying parent, small school (is HT the proprietress?), keep the customer happy, OP may have impressed on OP before enrolment that she wanted close attention. Personal call from HT to impress OP that they are taking the potential problems very seriously (not dismissing OP's concerns).
Could be practical issues, too, teacher may not find it as convenient to phone.
hmmm. Do I really want the head of my private school phoning me every time a girl loses her hockey stick? No. I want them to educate her and look after her. That's what I pay them for! Not for phoning me with trivial nonsense.
I'm back with some answers.
The school is not private like I imagine the prep schools are in England. I don't want I give too much info - fees are low and it's not a school owns by the HT
I agree that I don't want a call about something as trivial especially since at the start it was as if my DD was at fault. The HT is really nice but she knows how to say what you want to hear sometimes too.
I have at last made a few friends myself with some of the other mums and I think this might help us both to fit in with their ways.
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