Anyone else have a very unhappy Y7 hating secondary rules and snubs?

(25 Posts)
Habanera Mon 10-Oct-11 12:55:39

My DD is desperately unhappy, we moved to be in catchment for good schools, she insisted on the nearest one mainly to stay with primary friends and have no commute. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but now she says "friends" ignore her, new kids mean, wants to move schools, doesn't want to join anything and seems very depressed. Just sulks and moans about the over 50% nasty teachers, boring work, strict rules (new head just made tougher and the bad kids don't care anyway) and whole class threats and punishments of the innocent (her). Off sick today with migraine and bad stomach (second day off already). A total change of personality overnight and now we are 5 weeks in--this terrible first impression seems set to stay. Anyone in same boat? did anyone's DC recover from a bad start like this? I went to look at other schools open days (ones we missed last year, partly for my other DD to consider future for her) but they are either currently full, or full and expensive. We are basically stuck with the choice for now.

abcdangel Mon 10-Oct-11 13:36:59

Hi Hab,

Sorry you are in this boat, but glad you posted, I am in a similar situation.

DD1 (12) has just moved up to senior school and seems unhappy. Her best friend from Primary 7 left to go to another school, and whilst she seems to have people to hang about with, she doesn't have a close group. I think she is often on her own. I have observed her with other girls her age and she seems to hold back a lot, she doesn't seem to be able to join in easily, or if she does she goes a bit OTT and she seems to irritate people a bit by speaking over them or being a bit random and silly.

Overall she is quite immature and I have always felt she has never been able to "play the game" which other girls her age seem to be able to do. She has always been the one who ends up sitting on her own on trips because the other girls have pre-arranged who to sit with, and she doesn't seem to get included in things.

My heart breaks for her, she doesn't have a bad bone in her body and would never be nasty to anyone, yet she just doesn't quite seem to fit in. She still sees the friend who left and they get on brilliantly. She used to be really good friends with daughters of friends of mine (no school connection, just family friends), but even they don't seem to want to see her anymore.

She's at a school where, whilst academic success is important, image and popularity seem key - from what I can gather the girls are sort of in self appointed groups from 1 downwards. I am petrified that her lack of self esteem combined with this hierarchy at school are going to lead to her thinking of herself as not good enough and leading her life that way.

Sorry OP I haven't answered your problem at all. I've just blurted out my own concerns, but I am watching my little girl become a sad withdrawn pre-teen and it's hearbreaking.

Have you considered confidence building or counselling for DD? I am looking into this at the moment. Also I would speak to the school, because it's unfair for her to be getting a hard time off teachers when she has done nothing wrong. Another thing I try to do is talk every night at bedtime. It's sometimes not possible, but I feel that if DD has a chance to off lift some of her concerns or worries, she may sleep better instead of having things going round and round in her head.

spiderpig8 Mon 10-Oct-11 13:36:59

Don't worry.This is very very common!Both my 2 older Dcs were like this and many of my friends kids.s
It is very very early days andeveryone's abit insecure and jockeying for position in the pecking order.that is why her old friends seem to be acting weird and new kids mean.
They are very very tired as well, it;'s their first half term and so many things to get used to and little niggling worries.When they get home they forget about the good and Ok stuff and focus on the few things that have made them sad.
tI can remeber DS1 at the same stage being in tears about hating his new school.Then one day, shortly after the first half term I came up to school with his swimming kit he'd forgotten, and caught sight of him coming out of a building surrounded by other boys laughing and joking.
Tell her to hang in there.It will get better .And take with a little pinch of salt how bad she says it is!

spiderpig8 Mon 10-Oct-11 13:38:45

Also they will be doing team building stuff with the form to help them gel, and there will be lots of lunchtime clubs and activities for lonely children to join in.

MillyR Mon 10-Oct-11 13:57:35

DS is in year 9 now and he found secondary school very difficult when he first started. He was sick from nervousness - including actually being physically sick at school and on the bus journey. It took time but he loves it now.

I would say the most important thing is to speak to the form teacher/head of year/head of lower school and keep the school informed, so that they can help with the situation.

The whole class punishment thing is unfair and I would speak to the school about that as well.

DemonMousse Mon 10-Oct-11 15:38:30

I had the same this time last year with DD1 - she 'had no friends' the teachers were 'all horrible' she wanted to move schools. I spoke to the Head of Year who said she was very suprised to hear all of this (I didn't mention the 'horrible' teachers) as DD seemed to have settled well but she would keep an eye.

Looking back I honestly think that secondary school was just a huge shock to the system and something that she had to get used to. She now has a nice circle of friends and is doing well. I'm sure your DD just needs time to settle in properly though it is hard seeing your child unhappy.

Go and see her tutor. In my experience they will bend over backwards to help support those who find the transition difficult. Many schools have a peer mentor system where senior pupils take a newbie under their wing.
Secondary school is a culture shock, I guess the strict rules are part of the reasons you moved house to get her in there?
Both of my sons have complained about the policy of punishing the innocent because they are part of the class or group. I have to say it annoys me too. Why do they do it? It used to happen at primary as well.

I always try to support the school though and I have said to the boys that it is unfair, but sometimes life is unfair and they have to live with it.

GraduallyGoingInsane Mon 10-Oct-11 19:34:31

My DD2 (now in Year 9) found starting secondary really difficult.

She's a shy girl, and unfortunately came to secondary with only one girl she knew, who immediately started picking on DD2 so as to raise her own social status. angry

We went through the 'I've no friends' stage for a long time - from memory it eased off around February/March of Year 7. I found it really difficult - she was so shy, so approaching a group was like torture to her. We tried inviting people over to tea, organising cinema trips etc, but it took a while.

It didn't help that the teachers are very strict, and she was terrified of putting a foot wrong, so followed every rule to the letter, leading to more 'goody goody' teasing. I also called the school to ask for help, and they were very complimentary about how good she was, and how well she was doing in class, but not awfully helpful in terms of the social side.

The good news is, 2 years on, she's really happy. It does end, and actually although it took her longer, she's got stronger friendships than DD1 (Year 11) who settled straight away, but seems to have a bigger but more transient group of friends.

DD3 (Year 7) started this year, and seems to have taken after DD1 and settled well, but it's never easy, is it?

Habanera Wed 12-Oct-11 10:36:23

HI all
Thanks for the many kind replies about my DD1's unhappy start in secondary school-it's true it might get better in time, though that wasn't my experience personally. I am feeling angry in myself about it all, I had a terrible time myself when I went to a horrible middle school, started a lifelong battle with depression, and I feel I never really recovered the relationship with my parents who seemed not to do anything at all to help, until I went off the rails at 17. So it's very scary seeing her turn into me. I noticed all the other schools I visited had a well-developed house system and in some the older ones were assigned younger ones to mentor-somehow I didn't notice that this school didn't have that-I assumed all English schools did it. That would really have helped her. Still she's not me, and in any case there's no choice but to see it through for the time being-I don't want to home school at this point, we tried that a few years ago and I couldn't get her to do any work, she resented me and prefers proper teachers. We tried so hard to choose a good school, but it's just too big and a new head means it's "falsely advertised" as DD1 said, the extra strictness is a new thing. I so wish I had persuaded my DH to send her to the private girls school with small classes, but we thought we had sorted it by spending a fortune to move house, plus we'd feel we need to send DD2 as well to be fair, she is even brighter.

I'm still stuck at home for three days no, since last night DD1 started vomiting along with the migraine that started in the night on Sunday. I think she is genuinely unwell, but all the same she hasn't had a bad migraine for over a year and never been physically sick with them before. I am sure there is a stress element. She is the youngest in the school.

I did email the form tutor in the first two weeks and she invited DD1 to some special clubs, she enjoyed one and has missed the other due to her illness, and she also hooked her up with another nice girl who is the only one from another primary school. But DD1 was still generally unhappy and miserable, focussing always on the ever increasing list of negatives about the rules and how nasty the older years groups were, and how the girls she knows just turn their back on her to talk to each other.

I think the school does have experience of this sort of problem obviously, but at the end of the day it's a great big school with lots of kids with "real" problems not just a timid princess having her already-low status and self-esteem stomped on. Not a good environment for a sensitive shy but bright and conscientious girl who has just turned 11 and now has a nasty health problem back again that I had thought was better, and basically is caused by her feeling bullied by the school. The primary school was a total pain when she had migraines, not telling me, disbelieving her and refusing to let her go to the medical room, and constantly throwing out the labelled Calpol I left for her, since she doesn't take it on a schedule but only when SHE felt it coming on as the GP advised-a bit tricky when no one believes you! Shall I go into this school and see that she gets proper attention? How? Apparently the kids with serious illnesses have some sort of card system. Perhaps I should say this is also a special need since it is affecting her schooling. I hate making a fuss but this is unbearable. At primary I finally just said, s*d it and put some painkiller in her bag, to take when needed, she's smart enough to keep it quiet-she never needed it after that.

She's so scared of getting a consequence or detention she probably wouldn't even ask for permission to get a drink to swallow it, or would be afraid to get it out of her bag.

I think she is being a bit dramatic to say that she is being "bullied by the school" because she thinks the rules are too strict.
Although the older kids do seem huge and scary she will soon realise that she does not feature on their radar and they really are not a threat to her.
I don't think an e mail to the tutor is enough. Could you arrange a meeting?

Habanera Thu 13-Oct-11 16:19:08

She might be inaccurate in her wording, but she really does feel bullied by the school. Why is it called bullying when another child shouts at her and punishes her undeservedly, and discipline when an institutional policy allows and seems to encourage adults to do it?

mumslife Thu 13-Oct-11 22:35:45

My daughter is now in year 10 but when she started in year 7 with only two other girls she knew she was incredibly shy. She wouldnt approach anyone unless they spoke to her first. The two girls she went with bullied her as they began to make new friends and I guess to raise their pecking order and she spent much of the first six months with her head down looking at the floor.

I was really worried about her . She was quite young for her age very small and very gullible and basically too nice for her own good still is, would never say anything to upset anyone just wants everyone to just leave her alone and blend into the crowd.

Then towards the end of year seven she began going to drama group and choir and started to make friends with girls like herself shy quiet hardworking not interested in boys etc but just normal eleven yr old little girls. None of these girls were in her form but they began meeting for lunch break etc and graduallymore lessons were split according to ability so some of her new friends were in her class.

BY the middle of yr 8 she changed completely she was happy smily confident in who she was still quiet and shy ahd hadworking but she blossomed in the circle of her new friends who didnt bully her , tease her call her a geek and take her stuff and make her cry and be generally bitchy. These girls were just like her.

Now in year nine and still now in year 10 she has a firm group of really nice friends six of them hang around together and as they have now taken their options they are often in the same classes together all in the tops ets and all taking art or music and fairly academic subjects.
By taking these academic subjects she has all the kids in heer class that want to do well and work hard so all the other kids are no longer in her classes so she no longer gets teased. Also she has girls from other houses in her classes that she didnt know before and is now more than confident to go up to girls that are just like her quiet and well behaved and is making even more friends - so hang on in there

Habanera Fri 14-Oct-11 14:07:24

I'm really pleased to hear that it is possible for a geeky 11 year old to come to like secondary after a poor start. I've also met a few other mums who say this has happened to lots of kids they know-the quiet bright sensitive ones-once they get streamed. That is going to be next year except for maths- a very long time for her! She deserves more than a promise of jam tomorrow.

NONE of my many friends or acquantainces DCs who have started this year all over the country have had a single moment of unhappiness to report to THEIR mums. People ask me how she likes it-I tell the truth and they all say really! Her of all kids. We were SO looking forward to secondary.

For us it's too late to avoid the poor start, and we have tried to improve things in many different ways- but she is still adamant that we need to change schools ASAP. From her POV I guess even though I say it will take a couple of years to move her, if at all around here, and with our finances, she says so be it, she is determined to leave. She understands she is staying put for the time being.

I know she will probably come around in time- but really why does it have to be like this for this sort of kid? Are all schools so naff with this group? The naughty ones don't really care about the punishments or are proud of themselves. I was against all-girls since everyone tells me they are bitchy, but the presence of boys here doesn't seem to have made the girls any nicer. Maybe they need to show off even more how cool they are, by putting down the youngest one.

Does anyone know what sort of counselling I could get for a child like this?

Theas18 Fri 14-Oct-11 15:34:25

Habanera, counselling sounds a bit extreme. She lacks self confidence and is academically able but socially not so able.

My son hit a time like this when he was 10. He was geeky and mature beyond his years and way beyond his peers who were still "silly little boys" and he wasn't very tolerant of them as he didn't understand them. He was bullied by name calling and exclusion - plus the low level moving his stuff eg "taking" his coat- by putting it down the corridor etc.

The "therapy" that worked for Ds was a book called "bullies big mouths and other so called friends" that gave him insight into how they were functioning, and taking on a hobby that he as good at, that lead him to meet other geeky boys in a way that was "non confrontational" - he joined a boys choir. The singing meant he was with other boys but didn't have to talk to them as such initially but soon he as there early for the toast and table tennis before choir with the rest. He never was in the "in crowd" at primary but he coped then and I wont say he has friends in the same way that my girls do, but he fits in and is happy at school now (he's 15). He still sings and it still makes him happy (in a big adult choir now he's a bass).

It doesn't have to be music, sport/drama would work too but any hobby that your child could be good at outside of school with a different group of kids to practice and learn social skills is great. Once her self confidence grows she'll take these skills into school and find herself some friends. Personally I haven't found guides or cubs/scouts good for this though. Not sure why- perhaps there is more chance for them to be bitchy than if they are mostly supposed to be engaged in activities- or maybe it's just our groups.

Things will get better.

Ormirian Fri 14-Oct-11 15:42:36

I think it might be early days. DS1 slotted in right away in Yr 7 but DD was miserable for the first half term, started to feel a bit better after that and by Christmas was fine. She's in yr 8 now and going great guns!

It's a big change. Don't underestimate that.

Conundrumish Sat 15-Oct-11 23:42:03

OP I think it's really important not to assume your daughter's bad start means that she will turn into you. Your parents seemed not to care, you clearly do.

Try and reassure her and convince her that you feel it will be OK or she will feed off your anxiety. It sounds a nightmare sad.

pchick Sun 16-Oct-11 17:47:02

Please don't estimate your problems - it is a real problem. Speak to the form tutor or head of year. They will be aware that not all children settle well, and will have strategies to combat this.

pchick Sun 16-Oct-11 17:48:02

Sorry, meant to say under- estimate. Hope the situation resolves itself soon.

Habanera Mon 17-Oct-11 14:49:12

Sent her back today, headache and all. she was very worried about how to sort out all the missed work. She had the WHOLE WEEK off last week, DH took off one day and I stayed at home for 4, with migraine and some vomiting-it's genuine but also partly stress induced.

I have already told the form tutor all about it, who has tried to help-though one of my suggestions about there being some older peer mentor or house-system support seems to have been completely ignored-this school doesn't seem to operate that system more's the pity. She's been paired with another girl in the form who was the only one at HER primary and that has helped a bit, though that girl also has pre-existing friends who resent the intrusion. My DD has fallen right off a cliff with her self-confidence-even tho' she has been through several school moves before with no probs really. She's much too goody-goody for her own good like GraduallyGOingInsanes DD. One problem was the terrible first impressions of the school, of seeing girls who DID join in a club, get punished for getting late back-so DD daren't do lots of things on offer, and there's no "gang" someone to say to her hey come on lets do something!

That means for her school is nothing but work and threats of punishment-breaks are just standing around being bored since they are now "much too grown up" to play or run around and no one shares any of her interests (animals, pets, birthday party plans, god I dont know she's 11) to talk about, she'll just get laughed at or snubbed, sounds like, for not being into the current fashion (she tends to choose the opposite when she detects a brand-name trend etc. quiet but opinionated!)

She always did loads of fun stuff outside school as well as in, and we are still doing some of it, mostly at weekends due to parent work. It's just so unexpected, she was getting more and more independent, now clings to me all the time. I thinks she is going through more changes of puberty too.

I hate the school but am trying my darndest to put on a calm confident exterior-but I do privately agree with her, it's not right for her right now.

takeonboard Mon 17-Oct-11 18:33:06

Its still very early days Habanera, you are doing the right thing in speaking to the school, try to keep the lines of communication open with the teacher.

Sounds like she is feeling very sef-conscious about fitting in and being percieved as immature/not cool. Can you talk to her about that and explain that no one is really looking at her all the time? they are all to busy being self conscious about themselves!

Are there some tips you can give her on relaxing and do try to encourage her to join the clubs they are a fantastic way of meeting like-minded kids.
And hey, it isn't the end of the world to be late and get in trouble once or twice, prehaps she needs reassurance (we all get told off from time to time) if she keeps an eye on the time, she won't be late, anyway.

CeliaFate Tue 18-Oct-11 09:25:49

Your poor dd. She sounds totally lost and over-whelmed.

I think you need to take a step back - from your posts it sounds as though you're projecting your experiences onto her and it sounds from what you describe the sort of experience many girls go through. Your dd isn't alone. I get the impression from the words you use that perhaps you are exacerbating the problems by reacting so badly to them iyswim?

I would go back to the school and speak to her form tutor again.

I'd also encourage dd to re-join clubs - get her a watch so she's not late back. If she is, there will be a valid reason and the teachers should accept it. If not and she gets a detention, it's not nice but it's not the end of the world and she will learn to accept that.

My dd sounds similar to yours - very young, not into boys or being cool. But she's had to overcome some difficulties by being a bit more organised and independent. Perhaps your dd needs to be taught ways to do that?

The school has tried to help by pairing her with another girl. Can you pursue that friendship by inviting her round to your house or to the cinema etc.?

Does the school have a nurse? My dd's medical issue was highlighted by me on her admission form. The nurse rang me, and said that dd's photo would be placed on a letter outlining her condition and given to every member of staff. I would go to your dd's gp and ask them to write a letter that dd can carry around with her to prove to staff that she does need to go to get medication.

I hope you can sort it out and your dd is happier soon.

Conundrumish Tue 18-Oct-11 22:31:21

Sorry to hear it is no better. Poor you sad and poor her. It's probably teaching her a big lesson in 'determination' though. In the long run, as long as you can keep it calm at home [easier said than done] I am sure she will be fine OP smile.

LieInsAreRarerThanTigers Thu 20-Oct-11 13:04:59

It's interesting to hear it seems a common theme that former 'friends' from primary school can turn on each other in the new setting! I don't remember that happening when I moved schools, but it certainly happened to dd and has been mentioned a couple of times here. I had to contact one friend's mum about the barrage of nasty texts the girl sent dd after the first day at secondary. Although she has made new friends now and made up with the old ones, she definitely doesn't seem very happy in an undefined way.

We have just received news of her 'banding' from after half-term and she has been put near to the bottom stream for everything, when she has always been an outstanding student, esp. in English, so I am trying to sort out what has gone wrong there.

Tiredness is a factor and the journey to and from school is tough. We also moved area partly to get this school, and at the moment I feel really disappointed and sick for her sad

takeonboard Thu 20-Oct-11 14:49:44

has this week been any better for her Habanera? hope so.

DonnaM18 Thu 22-Sep-16 02:22:14

Recently sent my son to a middle school in leek Staffordshire st Edwards, he's really struggled as its like he has been thrown into high school as that's how they treat it two years early, his best friend from primary school is there but aren't in any classes together, my son is constantly in tears in mornings and after school and also in school, making himself have a bad stomach in the mornings as worrying himself so much 😢. Have taken the decision to move him back to his primary school as he can have another two years there as I feel he's just not ready and can't cope with it. Now upset that he's not with his best friend, he's breaking my heart at the minute, anyone else had a similar experience or any advice ?? Thanks 😊

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