Not making friends

(20 Posts)
hillian Tue 10-Sep-13 08:19:41

DS started in year 7 last week. Last night he told us that he's alone most of the time and isn't getting to know any of his classmates.

He moved up from a feeder primary and is in the same class as the two boys with whom he was friends at primary school, except that they seem to be going off on their own and leaving DS out.

Its not a problem per se of being left behind by his primary school friends because they seemed to bicker more than play last year. What is a problem is that DS isn't making any new friends and won't even say hello to people.

Almost all the other children in the secondary school came from one of the feeders, so no one else is alone (as far as I know).

DS's self-confidence is taking a battering. He loves football (unlike his two primary friends) and we hoped he'd join the school club, but its the first after-school session tonight and he won't go along because he says he is not good enough.

Also he seems very stressed.. not sleeping, no appetite, getting angry easily.

I am so worried about him.

What can I do? Even trying to encourage him to join the football club feels like nagging.

My fear is that he'll end up as one of those children that I was at school with who it wasn't cool to be seen talking to.

Taz1212 Tue 10-Sep-13 09:51:37

Oh that's hard! Are there any other clubs he can join, especially lunchtime clubs because they can take the sting away from being on your own over lunch. I'd keep encouraging him to join the football club. DS swims in a local club and was selected for his school's swim team. He's one of the best swimmers in his squad at home but when he went to the first school practice last week he found he was the slowest by a big margin. It gave him quite the shock and he was pretty discouraged. We're doing the whole encouraging the social aspect of it, being part of a team and so on and he seems to continue but it's hard when they lose a bit of confidence.

Does he play PlayStation at all? I don't know much about it (this is DH's domain!!) but DS seems to build friendships with schoolmates through his PS3 where they all know each others ID thingy names and can sort times to be on together. Or is he into Minecraft at all?

memder Tue 10-Sep-13 10:24:30

I would say it's very early days but I fully understand your worries. If I were you I would give him the biggest encouragement possible (loving hugs/cash/sweets whatever works for him) to get him to stay on for the football club - can you meet him at/near the school gates with his kit and tell him to go for it? However, don't stress or let him know you are stressing for him keep praising him for anything you can and tell him to give it all time. A freind's dd had a tough term last year when she started year 7 and freinds told her to just be there and after xmas it all fell into place and she now loves school. My own ds took at least a year and then gradually found his group of really good friends. Now he is with a really lovely group - all mixed ages. Are there any other clubs he could give a try? Sometimes the club you least expect to do it for them is the one if they will give it a try. Really hope it doesn't take too long. I know it's agony.

fridgealwaysfull Tue 10-Sep-13 10:25:45

This is hard, I feel for you. It's still very early days he's only been at school for a week so don't panic and also don't show him that you're worried about it, he doesn't need that added pressure. Secondary school is so different so it's no surprise that some kids take a while to settle and make friends. I would see how this week goes and if it wasn't going well, I would make an appointment to see his mentor but I don't think I would necessarily tell him about this, you don't want to make a big issue that you're concerned about his lack of friends.
With the football, I would definitely encourage him to go.....fingers crossed for you

memder Tue 10-Sep-13 10:25:48

Just had another thought, I've noticed some kids actually use the school library at break/lunchtimes to get away from being on their own and this is a really good place to make friends too not just doing homework.

hillian Tue 10-Sep-13 10:50:37

Thank you all for your replies and suggestions. I'll suggest the library for lunchtimes rather than being seen to be on his own.

I wish I knew why he's decided against the football club because last week he was all for it (in fact he told us about it). I asked but he refuses to discuss it. I think maybe its just low self-confidence.

DH and I couldn't even persuade him to take his PE kit in this morning to keep in his locker so that he could join the football club if he changed his mind.

I've just been reading another thread about breaking into friendship groups and a lot of the posters there are suggesting minecraft as a common interest. I'm going to try that too. The difficulty is to get him to keep trying to talk to people, even just the ones he sits next to in class (when his two former friends have grabbed a pair of desks next to each other leaving DS on his own).

Madmog Tue 10-Sep-13 11:19:48

Even if he's missed tonight's football session, do try and encourage him. It is probably just a fun after school club and even if they have to be a certain ability, they may not have enough team members.

It is still early days and it does take a while to form easy friendships. If he's on his own at lunchtime, suggest he has a good walk around the school and if he sees any other boys from his tutor group or class, ask if he can go and join them. If he does find himself on his own, suggest he goes and checks out the school library or asks his tutor is there is a lunchtime club for homework. There could well be some other lunchtime clubs, so it might be worth giving one of them ago. Every school is different, but during the first term my daughter had to be three joint homework projects which to be honest were a pain, but at least it meant they had to get together with others outside school and get to know them a little better. If the problem does continue, email his tutor who may be able to help.

I think I was more stressed out than my daughter when things weren't going ideally, so try not to pass your concerns over to him.

3monkeys Tue 10-Sep-13 21:46:13

Ds1 spent a lot of lunchtimes in the library or the IT suite In Year 7, because he needed some time to himself. Now he's in year 9 he plays football most lunchtimes but it took him most of year 7 to go outside! Try not to ask too much, someone told me once just to ask 'how was your day?' If I got an ok, I tried to leave it, if you interrogate, you will end up upset! It does get better, I promise. Ds is hopeless at making friends and he has 3 lads coming over for his birthday this weekend smile

mumslife Tue 10-Sep-13 21:49:25

Some good ideas here my son is into minecraft and just started year seven. Very early days yet def encourage him to go to clubs good way of meeting likeminded p eople

hillian Tue 10-Sep-13 21:59:31

Thank you everyone.

DH is telling me to not communicate my anxiety too.

theginganinja Tue 10-Sep-13 22:01:46

Is there anything else he could try apart from football? We've had similar problems with dd settling last year, we joined a martial arts club at the suggestion of a colleague and it seems to have improved her confidence.

waltzingparrot Tue 10-Sep-13 22:06:12

It might even be worth dropping his form tutor a quick email just to let her know what's going on. She can keep an eye on the situation/might encourage him from her end.

alpinemeadow Tue 10-Sep-13 22:13:58

Maybe a lunchtime or after school club where they're all beginners - a new sport, or something like photography? - don't know why i chose that, just something where he won't feel as though he's 'no good' at it.
I wonder what arrangements the school has to ease transition and help them make friends? I would be inclined to contact the form tutor or pastoral person, though without telling ds, and ask how they can help. It may seem early, but it does sound as though his self confidence has been hammered a bit - not surprisingly if his friends have ditched him. Which sadly seems to be not uncommon,

hillian Wed 11-Sep-13 08:18:01

Is there such a thing as helicopter parenting at secondary though? DS has dyspraxia but he got detention on his 2nd day for getting dressed too slowly after PE, so I've already had to write to the school to ask them to factor his dyspraxia in when giving punishments.

(Actually the detention is what triggered this bout of low self-confidence as he usually does what he is told and so he isn't used to being punished.)

alpinemeadow Wed 11-Sep-13 18:28:25

I don't think you'd be helicopter parenting to contact the school about this - some dcs do find transition harder than others and need a bit of help. If ds is still alone most of the time, then I think you'd be justified to suggest a bit of assistance in the first few weeks. Not all 11 yr olds can 'naturally' make friends without some help!
Is there anyone he's met who he particularly likes - would he ask them round at the weekend?
My sympathies to both of you - this sounds stressful!

Schmedz Wed 11-Sep-13 20:10:04

He can't be the only one feeling the way he is...the HOY should have some good advice for you. No doubt they are used to dealing with kids in this situation very sensitively. Sure they would not mind you flagging up your concerns...they are very valid and their response may alleviate your own anxiety.
Good luck to him and I hope he feels more settled soon and finds a mate with similar interests soon.

bnm Wed 18-Sep-13 11:29:05

detention for dressing too slowly seems a bit extreme. If they thought he was taking too long then surely they would realise all was not as it should be and check his file rather than punish without any thought to what might be going on. I'd speak up.

bnm Wed 18-Sep-13 11:30:40

Also my DC have taken to putting socks on over socks so they save few a seconds and other little tricks that save them time because as it was in my day they find the time to change is so rushed its ridiculous.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 18-Sep-13 13:12:49

My DD has dyspraxia and the early days at senior school were difficult, she had the same problem with old friends distancing themselves, even building up their cool cred with others at her expense because they knew her well enough to highlight her weaknesses. Sadly in those early days of secondary school they are all desperately trying to reinvent themselves, prove they are cool and climb up the social ladder by proving themselves more cool than others. I only realised recently that Dyspraxics come off poorly in this sort of social situation because they may not read the social signals very well. I would try to find out exactly what is being said, if he loves football but hasn't the confidence to go because he thinks he isn't good enough are comments being made about his slowness / physical awkwardness. Clearly the telling off after changing for games would make that more difficult.

DDs year had a particularly nice manipulative cool crowd, and one former friend turned into a nasty bully in order to ingratiate herself (also a bit of a girl thing I suspect) but it turned out by the following summer that DD was far from the only one they isolated in that way ( any small difference was enough, hair colour, culture) and whilst out of school during the holidays away from the games of the cool crowd they formed themselves into a tight social group that defended and supported each other. They are still the best of friends though a few of them have moved school (and those left there are still having problems)

I would firstly, without imposing your anxiety worries, try to get your son to open up about what has been going on, perhaps he would be prepared to open up to DH. I always found they would open up more when talking to them when driving, something about being side by side, no eye contact, you are being distracted, all less intense. Then I would go into school and calmly and unemotionally explain exactly what has gone on and how it has made your son feel and discuss his dyspraxia. Aim to agree a plan both to support him socially and ensure all his teachers understand his dyspraxia. PE teachers are the worst IME, they live by physical prowess I suppose.

You seem overly worried about him being part of the cool crowd but not being in the cool crowd doesn't make you a loner, perhaps you should be suggesting he finds friends who he feels comfortable with rather than worrying whether he is one of the lads.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 18-Sep-13 13:17:26

Btw DDs dyslexia is mild enough for her to overcome it enough to be a good swimmer, it mainly manifests itself in her being a bit slow and very disorganised mentally and physically. Being slow dressing, absolutely. However that was enough.

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