My 11 year old dd is always being picked on. Please help.

(92 Posts)
manicstreetpreacher Tue 06-Nov-12 16:33:05

Hi there!

My 11 year old dd seems to have a target on her back. Without going into long winded explanations, she has had a hard time of it since about year 3 in primary. We've changed schools because of it, she won't defend herself because she tried it once by saying something back at a girl who'd been goading her all day who then went to teacher and guess who got blamed? She also won't defend herself for fear of being called snitch or incurring the wrath of the other person's friends.

By the end of year 4 she had lost her best friend because the class queen bee took it upon herself to spread lies. This friend had been with her since nursery and she was heartbroken for several weeks afterwards. This ultimately led to a change of school despite us covvering every other avenbue first without success.

She's come home tonight completely fed up, sick of the fact that nobody likes her and that people pick on her for no reason. She's even had boys doing it too. Today, for instance, in her PE lesson she told me about a girl who was verbally horrid to her all afternoon yet nobody stepped in to do a thing about it.

My heart breaks for her, I really don't know where it's going to finish up - I feel as though home ed may be the only answer for her. Nobody seems to like her. She never gets asked anywhere and nobody ever accepts our invites to tea etc.

Also, her new secondary is very big and whilst I don't want to be going in every five minutes like some demented mum from hell I don't really know what else to do.

I feel like I have really badly failed her. I can't understand why this keeps happening to her. I wish she would fight back even if it meant getting into trouble - at least the people that pick on her might think before they did it again if so.

Just had enough really. Any advice would be greatly received.

EdgarAllansPo Wed 07-Nov-12 22:00:49

manic, stop blaming yourself! It's not you (or your daughter) it's them! How can it possibly be your fault that all these children keep treating your daughter like this?
Does she do any after school clubs, or have any other interests you can help her pursue? I am just thinking that perhaps, while there are no friends to take up a great deal of her time at present, perhaps it would be an opportunity for her to take up a new interest or two? Learn an instrument? Do something she's always wanted to have a go at, or find out more about? Try out some new sports? My DD was in a roughly similar situation and took up a new sport. It has been hard going (it is a tough sport) and she has stuck it out for several years and now she has a great bunch of friends, and is part of a club of people of all ages, with a family atmosphere. as such there's a certain amount of ribbing and joking and teasing which she takes as a fun part of the whole place, and the teasing or being left out at school no longer gets to her. (she's helping me write this!)

Never mind about any other girl being a Queen Bee, your dd is your queen bee, and when bees get lemons, they make lemon flavoured honey. Or something. (My DD says when you get lemons, send them back you don't want them. Or throw them back. hard. Or...make Nutella and have everyone guessing how did it.)

breadandbutterfly Wed 07-Nov-12 22:44:29

Some thoughts - first, your dd sounds lovely and v mature. Ufortunately, there are nasty, insecure kids there who will pick on any kid who daresto stand out for any reason (having been picked on once before could be enough). But it is NOT your dd's fault or your fault in any way.

When my dd experienced mild bullying, I taught her that bullies bully becaue of their own self-esteem issues and that she should feel sorry for them. It was easier as in her case this was self-evidently true - a boy who bullied when he had hearing problems, another when new to the school and one whose mother had deveoped MS. So they were dealing with their own demons. It's not alwaysso obvious - but your dd needs to know it's not her it's THEM and needs to have her self-esteem boosted big time - in my dd's case, having a teacher who recognised her self-esteem was low and did her best to boost it by making her being clever seem cool not nerdy and giving her special encouragement for this, made a huge differemce.

Plus good friends out of school - from activities, family, friends' kids - so she can ignore it. It will pass - I teach 16-18 year olds and some of them were telling me about terrible bullying they'd faced - but they were all past it and over it now. 11-12 year olds can be cruel - because they are insecure and immature. They will grow up!

Spalva Thu 08-Nov-12 10:17:59

manicstreetpreacher, you are describing my own eldest dd, so my heart is just breaking for you because I know exactly what it means to be the mother of such a child.

My dd started to be bullied at age 5, though you could say she was already disliked by other children as early as 4 (a prominent memory of mine is going to a birthday party when she was 4 and the birthday girls running to the gate, all excited, and then saying, "Oh, it's just so-and-so" and walking off while my dd held out their gifts). She was excluded and verbally abused at school from the moment she started. When she was 6 she was physically abused by the boys (once, two held her arms up while the third kicked her in the crotch, hard...the school did absolutely nothing). We kept at it, despite my belief that home education is superior) because of circumstances that pretty much required us to send her to school. I finally took her out for a year and did home ed. After that, she wanted to return to show that she could do it. We put her in a new school (a tiny one) and she blossomed. She had the best year ever last year (Yr 7) with not one incidence of bullying. And then we made the stupid decision to move here to the UK and we're back at it again and all those victories and huge accomplishments from last year are already dying away after only four or five weeks of school.

Like your dd she simply can't relate to the other kids at school. She doesn't talk about what they talk about, she's not interested in what they're interested in...

My daughter is the kindest, most loyal friend anyone could ever want. She is so neat and interesting, so poetic and just wonderful.

I wish they could meet!

Spalva Thu 08-Nov-12 11:06:21

Oh, and I would also like to reassure you. I have a younger dd who is 7 now and she is like a friend magnet, though a very kind one. They were parented the same way -- though, of course, first children are always sort of experimented on. Honestly, I will always be thankful that I had another child because the guilt I felt over my first dd was so heavy! Now I can see that there is just something in these girls' nature that makes it so they don't fit the moulds of society.

Also, we are reading My Name is Mina by David Almond and I bet you two would just love it the way we do!

Shagmundfreud Thu 08-Nov-12 11:31:24

I took my dd out of her unsuitable school in year 8. Home edded her (sort of) for a term. Then a place came up in a much better school. She's much happier now.

Home educating was a horrible experience for me because my dd is uncooperative, lazy and aggressive. Your dd sounds absolutely delightful, and if I was in your shoes I'd have her out of school in a flash. She would be a great candidate for home education. And I'm sure a place would come up in a better school sometime this year.

trinity0097 Thu 08-Nov-12 17:11:26

Have you considered moving her to an independent school? Almost all offer some kind of bursary system. Although girls in any school can be mean, in the independent sector children are generally more tolerant of those that are just nice kids (rather than 'cool' kids), and a healthy work ethic is encouraged!

Saracen Fri 09-Nov-12 03:04:05

I think if you meet some people who home ed or chat online about it, it might seem less daunting. If you tried it, there's a good chance you would find it easier than you expect. IME most people do find it easier and more pleasant and more socially fulfilling than they expected.

But suppose that your worst fears about home education did come true. Suppose it was difficult for you, and that your dd lost the opportunity to learn to get on with groups of preteens. Would that be a total disaster?

Your daughter's self esteem would still soar in the absence of daily taunting. She would be spending much of her time with someone who loves her absolutely and who will never turn on her. She would still get practice in how to get on with adults, which is bound to be a more useful life skill in her adult life than getting on with herds of eleven year olds. Perhaps it would be a worthwhile trade-off. A few years away from school could do her the world of good.

I came to home education for different reasons, but I have noticed that the home educated teens I have met over the last ten years appear to have remarkably strong self esteem. It's hard to figure out exactly why this should be so. Perhaps the freedom from the extreme group pressure which is often found at schools could be a factor.

It's a phenomenon which Susan Sheffer explores in her fascinating book "A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls". Sheffer is an American author, but the girls she studied were home educated in a similar way to British girls so the book felt relevant to me. (Sometimes American "homeschooling" can feel very different to British home education, though there are similarities.) Sheffer observed that while studies of schoolgirls have shown that an individual girl's self-esteem tends to drop steadily throughout adolescence, and that schoolgirls as a group have a worse self-image than previous generations of girls, the homeschooled girls she knew appeared to be immune from this trend. Her extensive interviews with these girls on a range of subjects showed that they were comfortable with who they were and that they became more confident with every passing year. This applied both to girls who had never been to school and to those who had left school several years previously. It would be interesting to pinpoint the reasons for this and see whether this information could be used to alter the school environment so that schoolchildren might have an equally positive experience of adolescence.

I think that if I weren't already keen on home ed for other reasons, this book would have drawn me toward it. After all, what better gift could you give a young woman than confidence and a sense of inner peace? If she is happy in her own skin, everything else is just icing on the cake.

marriedinwhite Fri 09-Nov-12 07:34:24

OP, I'll whisper this quietly. I never really fitted in at school either at primary or secondary. I never really liked pop music or Jackie or PE or sport and wasn't that fussed about boys, I didn't really like the stuff in Chelsea Girl that everyone else wore and didn't want the same haircut. I wasn't bullied badly but I knew I didn't fit in and I didn't have many close friends or go to many parties. I was hopeless at sport and middling clever and nothing special. Until I was about 16 I was the plainish, skinny bespectacled one.

Then I blossomed and the day I left school was the start of my life. I had a brilliant time at College, and when I started work I started to do very well. Not because I wanted to be like the others but because I wanted to do well and so I made myself fit into the culture, got my head down and became the successful one who got what all the others wanted.

Looking back I was different and ultimately I achieved because I was different and so did DH who I am well aware was regarded as a bit "weird" by many of his contemporaries at school and has few friends from those days although his sportiness provided him with cred.

DS who is almost 18 is a social animal and totally alpha. DD is quiet and quirky but has always been happy rather like me being a bit of an island. She had the most miserable time in years 7 and 8 at secondary where she was shocked by the unkindness although not the butt of it by a significant minority. We moved schools to somewhere small and pastoral which deals well with quirky girls. There is still bitching as there always will be with teenage girls but it is at a lower level and the environment is kinder and more supportive.

There's nothing wrong with your daughter she just doesn't sound like a pack animal or that she runs with the herd and that's what schools are designed for. Forget not that the people who run them and work in them tend to have been very happy at school and so the system perpetuates itself.

lljkk Fri 09-Nov-12 08:08:44

HE girls may have better self-esteem, but the ones I've known still had many issues with self-esteem, confidence & socially. One of them complained slightly bitterly how HE had left her too sheltered to know how to deal with outside world. One of the most adamant HEing mums I know was telling me how she guided her DD thru attacks of low self-esteem as a normal teenage phase (guidance I absorbed for future reference). HE is no perfect cure, either.

Spalva Fri 09-Nov-12 08:10:13

Such helpful posts -- even though I'm not the OP. Thank you everyone!

Saracen Fri 09-Nov-12 09:28:04

"HE is no perfect cure, either." Perhaps not for everyone. However, it is a simple and effective solution for many kids who find school very unpleasant.

I realise that the young people I know who came out of school in their teens - the ones who say that this decision transformed their lives for the better - are not representative of the population at large. If they had liked school, if they had even found it fairly tolerable, they wouldn't have left. Once people are wrapped up in the school world, doing what the majority of other people are doing, they rarely leave unless things have got very bad for them.

But where a young person is as thoroughly miserable at school as the OP's daughter seems to be, it hardly seems likely that HE would be worse than staying on. It could be the answer. There is probably only one way to find out, and that is to try it.

DeWe Fri 09-Nov-12 09:33:27

Also, she isn't a 'follower' as described by Hairbear. My dd calls them 'sheep', they do the wrong thing to fit in because it 's easier, they get left alone that way. Woe betide the girl who breaks the mould and decides to think for herself.

She sounds like my dd.

We took the choice not to send her to the more popular secondary, and she went to one where she ended up in a form with no one she knew. That's actually been a great thing for her, because it allowed her to make new friends without her feeling that she was being watched and criticized. She now seems to be reasonable comfortable in a small friendship group of boys and girls. In my interfering way I'd love her to come home saying "can I go to X with my friends" which she hasn't, but she seems much happier this year.

manicstreetpreacher Fri 09-Nov-12 10:23:51

Can I say a massive, massive thank you to all of you for your input and opinions? I've taken it all on board and will see how things progress with a view to maybe doing home ed temporarily.

You've all been so lovely. Another forum I've been on wasn't quite so nice and I expected a bit of flak here so thanks very much. The fact that you have all given me some of your time to help means a lot. x

Sonnet Sat 10-Nov-12 21:44:18

Please update us as to what you decide and how it works out. Good wishes to you both

schinkelfish Sun 11-Nov-12 19:54:20

Hi OP

Have you come across Rachel Simmons' book and resources 'Odd Girl Out'? She has some good stuff on her website, and her books is very goo, I think.

I found her stuff because I too have an 11 yr old DD who is experiencing similar issues - although not quite as bad as what you're describing. We've been working with her on new strategies for coping with bullying - because that is what this is - with bells on.

xx

schinkelfish Sun 11-Nov-12 19:57:46

I meant to say her book is very good.... ( not goo) oops!

We took the choice not to send her to the more popular secondary, and she went to one where she ended up in a form with no one she knew. That's actually been a great thing for her, because it allowed her to make new friends without her feeling that she was being watched and criticized

My lovely DS seems to have continual problems with the boys in his class too (year 6) and so we too are sending him to a school where none of his peers are going to....personally I think it will be really good for him to have a new start and hopefully forge some new friendships.

APMF Mon 12-Nov-12 12:33:29

I will probably get severely flamed for even suggesting it but is it possible that the 'problem' is with your daughter? It's just that everywhere your DD goes she seems to encounter a 'queen bee' or some 'little shit' and everyone ends up turning against her.

In year 6 a girl transferred in mid year. I got talking to the mum and she told a similar story to yours. Hence the transfer. The mum was quite nice so I tried to push my DD towards hers but my DD would have none of it. The new girl, said DD, was very bossy. If the girls didn't play the game she wanted she would say nasty things to them and then tell the teacher that she was being picked on. Being aware of her history, the teacher would tell off the girls for bullying the new girl. After a month of similar incidents the girl was in a situation similar to that at the school she had left.

I am not saying that the other kids are justified in being mean to your DD. I am not saying your DD deserves it. What I am saying is that maybe you should consider whether your DD is simply rubbing people up the wrong way.

madhairday Mon 12-Nov-12 13:07:03

OP I really do empathise as my dd has always been the same too, and it is heartbreaking to see them go through this.

She was bullied through primary school, we moved several times (not because of this, because of dh's work) but each time found it hard to 'fit in'.

She was diagnosed with dyspraxia which explained a lot of her difficulties. Your post about children laughing at her in a martial arts class because she was clumsy makes me wonder about this as she sounds similar to my dd. Have you looked into the possibility of dyspraxia at all? It can have big effects on a child's social maturity, ability to make friends etc.Even if it's not this at all though, there are some children who are just a little different, who don't run with the pack as a pp said.

She's in y7 now and has been generally ok so far, we did a lot of work together on friendships, dealing with bullies etc. BUt there is one girl undermining her every move, and spreading rumours about her (she was in her y6 class) - dd also has very bad psoriasis and this girl has been telling the others she is dirty and contagious and no one should go near her, teasing her and calling it 'the <dd's name> touch' sad How vile can some children be. DD is just like yours though, not wanting to involve teachers, she wants to just get on with it and not be seen as a snitch. She doesn't even want to involve the SENCO and be seen as 'SN'. It's so sad that it should be this way but it is forced on so many.

Your dd sounds lovely and you sound a lovely mum. I too have gone through the guilt thing and felt I let her down, but in fact our dd's are lucky to have mothers that care so very deeply.

I wish you all the best and hope this can be resolved soon in the best way.

Visualarts Mon 12-Nov-12 13:32:43

Loads of sympathy msp, this sounds so horrible. Nothing you've done wrong, i'm sure - some dcs just are less prone to be 'in' than others! What i'm not clear about is how involved school is in the problem - if i were you i would go in and ask what they intend to do now to help sort it out. Not saying it's easy for school but it is part of their role.

You've said dd won't go to school clubs - i can understand why, but i really think this might help because she 's likely to meet dcs with similar interests. Would it work to suggest she goes once to try, with no obligation to go again- maybe even a financial incentive to go once!

Also agree with poster who said foster lots of out of school friends - family, friends' children, local 'quirky' groups eg do you have a local wildlife group? Not that wildlife is quirky, but you know what i mean - less obvious than sport! I know these aren 't miracle solution - but anything to dilute the school experience!

JuliaScurr Mon 12-Nov-12 13:44:41

Had similar with dd, he'edded for 2 terms then found good primary who actually DID SOMETHING TO HELP, not ust blame us

dd now cured,happy at secondary

youngminds.org

Visualarts Mon 12-Nov-12 15:04:09

Julia if it wouldn't out you, what did the school do to help? It is so encouraging to hear of the school being able to sort it out - maybe it could help op (and others!) if she wants to press school to help, to know what specific steps school could consider taking that have worked elsewhere?
Also - So glad it worked and your dd is now happy!

JuliaScurr Mon 12-Nov-12 16:46:53

friendship groups where they could discuss what friendship involves
attached to Children's Centre - psych trained play worer who taught ids how to play together
social/emotional stuff embedded in all teaching
peer mentors
playtime buddies

JuliaScurr Mon 12-Nov-12 16:48:54

schools need to recognise children don't all realise how to mae friends, they must be actively taught

VivaLeBeaver Mon 12-Nov-12 16:57:28

Manic, I feel for you and your dd. My Yr7 dd is in the same boat.

In fact I've just been on the phone today to head of Yr7 who's very nice. She was punched 2x by the same girl last week. HOY is going to talk to the girl and tell her if it happens again she'll be suspended. She's also going to talk to dd and tell her that she must report such incidents.

DD came home upset today as she said a friend of this girl is spreading rumours about her at school - saying that she pooed herself last week, etc. So other kids are laughing at dd about it. DD is more upset about this than the punching from the 1st girl.

I know what you mean about not feeling like you can ring up about every little thing, but where do you draw the line? I've told dd to tell teh HOY about the false rumours when HOY talks to her tomorrow. And also that a boy was hitting her and calling her a twat on the bus today.

It seems that because 2 popular girls have taken a dislike to dd that everyone else is joining in. One of these 2 popular girls is serious trouble - she spends most of her time in isolation already rather than been allowed into class. She's not bothered by this and boasts about how cool isolation is, dd says the other girls in the year are all in awe of Isolation girl and think she's really cool! sad So I don't think that school punishments are going to have much effect.

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