Friendship issues with teen daughter

(16 Posts)
terryg Mon 18-Feb-13 20:54:40

Help! My 13 year old DD seems to go from one problem to the next with her group of friends and it is becoming incredibly stressful dealing with the fallout. Recently, things spilled over onto one of the girls Facebook page, via ask.fm (evil bullying tool if you haven't heard of it) and my DH and I decided we had to speak to school, not about the falling out per se, but to inform them about ask.fm and that my DD was pretty distressed about what had been written about her - everything from "you're ugly" to "you should die". School handled the situation very well, but my DD now very anxious about her friendships, and this is causing more problems. She says everything is ok now, but is feeling very insecure, and this is reflected in her behaviour - angry, pushing boundaries big-time and generally being unpleasant. I suspect some of these insecurities are being played out with her friends too and causing more problems with them.I certainly don't think she doesn't have a part to play in it, even though I only hear one side of the story! I think there are still issues with these girls, that are far from resolved, but cannot explicitly say this to my DD - think she knows this really but doesn't want to admit it to herself. She's not very confident, and doesn't make new friendships very easily, think she's trying to cling on to this group out of fear, rather than genuine friendship. It's so hard not to get emotionally involved - so stressful last time, trying to stay level-headed for her, then going downstairs and sobbing! Just want her to be happy and confident, and to be herself, without fear of rejection. Is this all 13 year old girls, and what can I do to help her? It breaks my heart to see her so lost whenever this happens. Any advice much appreciated.

Mumofthreeteens Tue 19-Feb-13 07:47:40

This time last year I was in the same situation with my dd13. Like you I went to the school about the FB bullying and really to just make them aware. It was all very stressful and dd wasn't happy, but gradually she made other friends, fell out with the odd one, got friendly again but thankfully has never got friendly with the 'witches' again. She sees them for what they are. We were only talking the other day how a year has passed now and how well she has done coping with it all but also how much she has moved on. It is so difficult and girls are so foul to each other.

Virtuallyarts Tue 19-Feb-13 07:53:35

Sympathies, this sounds so upsetting for her (and you!). Could your dd try joining some new clubs and activities in school, and maybe something outside school as well, to try to make some new - if not friends - at least acquaintances, so that she is not so dependent on the existing friends - which may mean that they get on better anyway (or alternatively drift apart). An outside club (like a sports club or music or drama) is good because it means you have a bit of a 'social life' (not exactly, but sort of) which is not dependent on school friends.

Has your dd got any friends totally separate from this group - maybe who don't go to the school? Could she meet up with them this half term?

Does sound so stressful for you - make sure you 'look after yourself' as well! (trite, sorry)

Slightly off the point, but what did the school do when they learned about the comments on ask.fm?

Virtuallyarts Tue 19-Feb-13 07:58:15

Mo3t, did your daughter have any tips for making new friends that might cheer tg's dd? Does the fact that by 13, friendship groups are established make it harder, or do those groups continue to be a bit flexible?

someoftheabove Tue 19-Feb-13 09:32:12

Ask.fm is evil! Makes fb look like a knitting circle.
I would agree with virtuallyarts that it takes great determination and luck to extricate yourself from a group of so-called friends at the age of 13-14. It's also the age when lots of girls stop doing any sport or excercise, so joining a club might not work for her if it's based around a sporting activity. Could she change tutor group? I know it will look like she's the one with the problem, but sometimes it's the only way. Glad the school is on board - keep them informed of your concerns and make sure you do plenty of self-esteem boosting activities out of school, with family and relatives.
Your dd needs to build resilience and build on her "personal power". I use the book "Stick up for yourself" with younger kids in my work - have a look on Amazon and see if they recommend something similar for teenagers.

Virtuallyarts Tue 19-Feb-13 10:30:35

Hmm yes, good point about 13-14 year olds giving up exercise, which is annoying as it can be a real mood and self-esteem booster. How about something like cycling or dance? It partly depends on what's available locally though.
Or terryg, is there any volunteering for teenagers near you - groups set up to clear canal towpaths, work on city farms, that type of thing? Again something to give dd a separate 'life' outside school (although I know obviously you also want to solve the problem in it as well!)

terryg Tue 19-Feb-13 19:22:02

Thanks for all your comments-working on her self-esteem is something I think I really need to focus on, as her confidence is rock-bottom at the moment.
You're right virtuallyarts, it can be very difficult to move onto a new set of friends at this age, particularly in a small school. It takes a very strong teen to decide they've had enough and move away from the group - my DD is clinging on by her fingertips and it makes me so sad to see this. Wish she would just turn around and tell them where to go, but she just wants to be part of a group, like most 13 year olds.

She's also quite resistant to trying new things, particularly when it's on her own, but I will persevere with knocking down her defences! You're right, someoftheabove, unless teens excel at sport before they get to this age, they tend to give it up. I like the idea of voluntary work, doing something for others often makes us feel better. I have even looked at youth counselling, as I felt so helpless a couple of weeks ago - thought she would benefit from professional advice, and I was emotionally wrung out, didn't actually know how helpful I was being. What are anyone's thoughts on counselling? Am I jumping the gun? God it's hard work this parenting business! You're so right mo3t, girls can be so awful to each other-glad to hear your DD managed to get through it.

With regards to school and how they deal with things, they were actually pretty good. They had a meeting with year 8 and spoke to them about the dangers of these sites, and strongly suggested that they close their accounts-they made it clear they wouldn't be dealing with the fall out if this advice was ignored. This was the first they'd heard of it and were pretty shocked by what we showed them.

mindfulmum Tue 19-Feb-13 20:20:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Virtuallyarts Tue 19-Feb-13 20:58:36

What about someoftheabove's idea of moving tutor group or form - is that an option? (drastic-ish I know). How big is the school - could it accommodate a move?
Is it a mixed school? If so, maybe your dd could get friendly with some of the boys - if not, how about a mixed group like scouts (though yes, I can see you might have difficulty persuading her to join on her own).
What are your dd's interests - maybe we can think of some out-of-school groups she could join! (sorry, patronising, as you can obviously do this yourself, but it can be nice to discuss it!).
And finally - could she volunteer at school eg to help with the younger girls' clubs. A bit more 'grown up', and solves the 'lunch time' problem?

terryg Wed 20-Feb-13 15:37:20

Any suggestions with regards to extra-curricular activities much appreciated-it's frustrating as some of the sports clubs we've looked at don't seem to cater for a rookie 13 year old. If you haven't been involved from a young age they don't know what to do with you - too old to start with the youngsters, but not good enough to join those their own age. Definitely a gap in the market there.

With regards to moving classes, her tutor group is actually not too much of a problem, as only one of the other girls is in it. It's all the other streamed classes that's the problem, as they're all in the same ability groups - no escape! They are all moving to the local upper school in September, and I have planned ahead and asked her current school to recommend that she is not placed in the same tutor group as some of these girls.

Mindfulmum you have obviously been through some issues, and know the signs to look out for. DD is generally sleeping ok and school work seems to be ok too, I suppose I was thinking that she might gain some coping strategies before we reach a crisis point. However, she is very resistant and I'm guessing it won't be beneficial to force her into going.

So helpful to have an outlet here, and so grateful for all your words of wisdom! DH is great, but doesn't quite "get it". Good for me to gain some perspective and hopefully keep me sane!

someoftheabove Thu 21-Feb-13 10:27:24

With regard to asking the current school to recommend your dd is not put in the same tutor group as the girls who are currently causing her problems, I would make it stronger than that. Phone the high school in the summer term and ask to talk to the head of Year 7 and explain the situation. They should appreciate the information as anything to ensure the first year in high school runs smoothly will help them as well as your dd. Some secondary schools (my dcs' for example) asks which other students they would like to be with, but not who they don't want to be with. I contacted the school, at my dd's request, to ask for her not to be put with a particular girl and the result is that dd developed a much healthier friendship with that girl. Obviously, they can't accommodate every request, but they should try.
As for activities - does the school do Duke of Edinburgh? It's tough but great for team- building and she can stop after doing bronze level if she really hates it! Also, if she joins the Guides, she can help out with the younger ones when she's a bit older herself.
Or, any martial arts - people start at all ages (ds started Chinese kick-boxing age 12). They are also great for self-esteem and confidence building.

Virtuallyarts Thu 21-Feb-13 11:42:00

Do you have local youth drama groups - they may not have such an 'experience factor' as sports, so it doesn't matter too much if you've only just started? With sports, there are some 'older' ones where people tend to start later - like running, fencing - so that might be easier for dd to start now -and as someoftheabove says, martial arts as well.

Or, do you have local art classes at weekends/after school for teenagers?

I agree with some's suggestion of contacting the school directly - no harm if current school backs up the message as well, of course.
good luck - so stressful! Hope your dd is having a nice half term,

terryg Thu 21-Feb-13 18:36:47

Thanks for your suggestions, will be looking into what we have on offer locally over the next couple of days. Like the idea of D of E in particular as combines widening her social circle with building confidence. I will also be contacting her new school after half-term, they have a good reputation with regards to pastoral care, so hopefully they'll appreciate our situation.

Trying to keep things on an even keel at home, not easy when DD is taking her frustrations out on us, so lots of deep breaths and walking away - no point in engaging in arguments with teenagers I'm starting to realise!

Hoping things will gradually improve with some changes in place. Just have to convince DD to try some of these things now. Wish me luck!

Virtuallyarts Fri 22-Feb-13 10:10:11

We do! (wish you luck, that is). When it comes to persuading dd to join things, does it work if you suggest she just goes once, to see if she likes it - if not, you won't try to persuade her to go again (a high risk strategy, of course! Maybe twice is more realistic than once, as the first time is always a bit daunting).

Is there anything you can barter with ie dd if you go to the DoE meeting we can go to [insert restaurant of choice] afterwards?

Last day of half term...can you do something really nice like go out to lunch together (sorry if this is unrealistic), and talk about [anything but school and friends! etc.unless she wants to talk about them, in which case that's fine too].

Finally - change of schools coming up - end in sight! But do as you say contact the school - and after half term is good, because they may start sorting out class lists fairly soon (not a teacher, so I don't know, but it would be annoying if you got there too late!)

Mumofthreeteens Tue 12-Mar-13 21:49:23

Sport or some other activity is so important. virtually I think what helped dd was for her horse riding and doing really well in jumping competitions, something she hadn't done before, and even winning! In fact in one she beat her nasty ex bf who even has her own horse! Luckily she had a break from school due to the summer holidays and managed to avoid meeting up with any of the witches and once a week did a day at the stables and mixed with 'nice, easy going' girls. They did start on her again at the beginning of the school year but when she didn't react they left her alone. I think they 'interact' from time to time but dd realises that they are not nice girls.

terryg I hope your dd is feeling better. It is so hard to want to be part of a group and be so cruelly rejected. I feel so sorry for this generation of kids that can be so publically humiliated by fb and others.

Virtuallyarts Sat 16-Mar-13 09:22:09

Agree mo3 it can be so helpful if they have a pursuit they really love, either sport or anything really, art, drama, music, warhammer, whatever!

But i think (just posted on another thread, repeating myself!) that some people are just better at one to one friendships than groups.

So op would it help your dd to try to be friendly with girls one to one (maybe invite one round to watch a dvd one evening) rather then trying to be part of another group? Not to have one exclusive best friend, but to be good friends with a number of different girls? I know this is easier said than done - because the groups are still there even if you decide you don't want to tangle with those dynamics!

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