Shy 15 yr old dd, no real friends

(53 Posts)
Rosirose Sun 24-Feb-13 11:00:23

This is my first posting so forgive me if it's not quite right. I'm desperate to help my 15 yr old dd. She started at her very academic school in yr 7 knowing nobody. Since then she has had trouble making friends and when she does they seem to disappear soon afterwards. It is always her who makes arrangements and often she is let down. She has spent the half-term week doing homework and with me. She has joined a netball club out of school but hasn't really made friends, she went on a summer camp last year but again didn't really make friends. We are thinking of changing schools for sixth form but why should a new school be any different? She is 15 but spends every weekend at home (she also hates sleepovers). She always had friends in her junior school. I just don't know what to do for the best. Has anyone got any suggestions I'm so worried.

janesnowdon1 Sun 24-Feb-13 15:00:38

Is your DD worried about it or is she happy? I have a friend whose DD is very happy not to bother with "school" friends and although unusual they don't see it as a problem
However,my DD was in a similar position in 6th form college and hated the no friends thing as she was so desperate to be "normal" and there seemed to be no reason for her lack of friends (she was pretty, trendy clothes, we offered lifts, organised activities etc) but she was last on everyone's list and it damaged her self confidence and I found it heartbreaking.

My DD's life has been transformed at uni (still not perfect but a million times better) - not sure what happened at 6th form and why she didn't click. Like you I spent a lot of time with my DD in the holidays and weekends and tried to do fun things and we are still very close which is lovely. My DD also did lots of activities to help with her uni applications and to keep busy - volunteer work,sports clubs etc and decided to take the view that she would go and not expect to make instant friends . Quite late on at 6th form she finally agreed to see their counsellor and she found talking to someone outside the family very helpful and regretted not agreeing to go sooner.

Your DD's school may offer something similar and you could ask her tutor confidentially about her interactions at school - could she be paired up on seating plans with someone who is also a bit lost etc.

Good luck - it's so hard

Virtuallyarts Sun 24-Feb-13 20:26:37

poor both of you, must be miserable - my sympathies. About why a new school would be different, I think sometimes a new start can help, because girls (and boys!) can get into a rut where people have a fixed view of them, so moving somewhere new can get them beyond that.

Is current school quite big - is it possible that dd just hasn't found the girls she might really click with? (I know it's been four years, but if the classes don't mix much there may still be people out there...) Would it be worth talking to her head of year, or head of pastoral care, or whoever, to see whether they can help - get her together with any other currently-lonely girls?
Out of school clubs are a really good idea, but ime can be quite 'slow-burn' so don't give up on the netball yet! What about something like drama or music - drama is quite social anyway, and bands/orchestras seem to run a lot of courses which is good for the social life!

Jimalfie Mon 25-Feb-13 09:34:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Rosirose Mon 25-Feb-13 15:31:20

Thank you for your replies and to answer your question Janesnowdon1, yes, she is worried about it and does want to go out more. Like you, with your daughter, we can't understand why she doesn't have friends. She is pretty, trendy (well I think so!) and 'nice' maybe too nice. She just seems to be a normal girl. Who works far too hard. I have spoken to the school, her form tutors and the head of pastoral care. They say she is fine in class and they also said they would think about who they sat her next to but this doesn't appear to have happened and one teacher even 'forgot' she was in the class and just had to find a space. I have suggested she see the school councillor to see if maybe she can help but she won't go. I'm literally having sleepless nights over it. What if she never makes friends? She is so quiet now even with cousins and grandparents and seems to only speak when spoken to. What changed for your daughter Janesnowdon1? Why do you think it suddenly clicked at university? Another concern of mine is that she won't fit in there because she doesn't drink. - please don't think I wish my dd was out and about getting drunk on a Saturday eve but she will have a tiny sip of something on a special occasion and I know this sets her apart from many of her peers - I'm pleased the general concensus seems to be to move her for sixth form because I also think that is probably right. I just don't want to make the wrong decision. In answer to your question virtuallyarts, her school is large, all girls and whilst the classes do mix they are all super clever and super confident and many are also super sporty. Not an easy place to be and tears this morning after the break!

Virtuallyarts Mon 25-Feb-13 15:50:38

More sympathy again! Do you have any particular schools in mind for 6th form - would there be anywhere where the students are a bit less stratospheric? Do you think co-ed would be good at 6th form - I know it reduces the 'pool' of girls to be friends with, but it might be good to have a change of environment?

But it sounds as though you have at least 4 terms left at this school - is that right? - so I would also be inclined to go back to the school and ask for more help. If it's a big school it seems likely that there must be someone else in her position in her year - can they be guided towards each other?

Are there any mn teachers out there who can advise whether that might work - to find another girl with the same problem and put them together on a piece of work, for instance? Does that ever guide girls towards friendship, or is it doomed to failure (or somewhere in between!)?

On the 'will she ever make friends'? I think sometimes there is no real reason why a dd doesn't make friends at school - just bad luck, not with the right people at the right time etc, and then things go downhill at that place - so if dd moves for 6th form things may well be better. I wouldn't be too worried about the non-drinking at university - I don't think all students are that into alcohol (and she may have changed a bit by the time she's 18!)

Good luck - this must be so stressful for you both,

Virtuallyarts Mon 25-Feb-13 16:09:51

Another thought! You mentioned that dd had friends when she was in primary school - are any of them still around 3-4 years on, who dd could meet up with?

If they've lost touch, maybe start off by e-mailing or texting?

Rosirose Tue 26-Feb-13 13:58:15

Thanks virtuallyarts for your messages. I am thinking of co-ed for sixth form and def a school that is not quite so high achieving which I also think could be a big part of the problem. You are also right in that we still have 4 long terms to go at the school and I do need to go back to them. (my dh has been pushing me to do this but I feel rightly or wrongly that they are not really interested). Also, re her old friends from primary school they gradually faded away and made new friends. She did push to see them early on but they started not returning calls etc.

Alonglongway Tue 26-Feb-13 17:40:55

Good on her for not drinking though. There's enormous pressure on them to drink heavily these days and I think it's brilliant if she wants to preserve her brain chemistry. Not to mention the drunken photos ending up on Facebook and all that.....

Virtuallyarts Tue 26-Feb-13 19:03:42

Yes, I think it would be worth trying another talk with head of pastoral care and the form tutor, and emphasise how unhappy it's making your dd.

Any mn teachers out there who could advise on what practical steps (if any) the school could take - is anything particularly likely to work?

Do you have family friends you can invite round to Sunday lunch with their teenagers - I know the problem is that by this age the teenager is likely to be going somewhere else! but worth trying? It can be nice to socialise with someone from a different area from time to time.

Gymbob Tue 26-Feb-13 19:40:32

how distressing as a mum to watch this. big hugs to you and your girl. thankfully my dd has friends now but at primary they drifted away and she ended up alone a lot of the time. it's heartbreaking to watch.

lots of kids round here mix and match for sixth form changing schools. but I do know some of my friends who go to all girl schools have encountered difficulties. changing to a mixed sixth form will change the dynamics in a big way. have I presumed rosí will it be mixed?

Rosirose Wed 27-Feb-13 18:29:46

I have tried to arrange 'family' lunches with our friends but my ds who is 16 yrs old flatly refuses to come as he thinks it's "really sad" to be seen with your parents and most of my friends kids feel the same. In fact what is worse is that one girl who used to be a very good friend at primary school now says my dd only speaks when spoken to and she doesn't even return my dd's texts. (her mother is a good friend of mine which is how I know what her dd thinks but my dd would be truly gutted if she knew and I have told her not to text her old friend as she is busy with homework!) I have also asked my ds if he could help but whilst he does try they are so very different and she won't go out with him and his friends on the rare occasions she has been asked.

Btw the sixth forms I'm looking at are mixed and I'm also a little worried about this. Her primary school was mixed and she did have lots of friends who were boys but this was obviously a) before she went really quiet and b) before the hormones all kicked in! But I do think that boys are more straightforward than girls. Also, one of the schools is more of a college and everyone is new whereas the other is a co-ed school. I'm not sure which would be better but I'm prob leaning towards the school (I did have a third option of a boys school that takes girls in the sixth form but decided this was prob not the best option as to be seriously in the minority might not be great)

thornrose Wed 27-Feb-13 18:38:33

I just wanted to say, my sister was just like your dd. She was the most painfully shy girl you could imagine.
She has grown up to be the complete opposite, she has loads of friends and a great social life.
She just seemed to "blossom". I realise this might not help you now, but I wouldn't worry to much about the future just yet.
My own dd struggles with friendships, I do feel your pain sad

Rosirose Wed 27-Feb-13 18:51:50

Thanks so much thornrose it really does help to know that things will hopefully get better. (I do tell myself that in my more rational moments) It is just so upsetting at the moment. I'm sorry your dd is also not having a good time with friends. How old is she? I also think things are made so much harder these days because of all the Facebook, texting etc. I mean at least when I was at school if I wasn't invited to a social a) I wldnt hear about usually until after the event and b) I def wouldn't see photos!

thornrose Wed 27-Feb-13 18:58:56

Mine is 13, I've posted about her problems quite a bit and had some lovely replies.
Oh god, Facebook! My dd tortures herself with pictures of everyone socialising, having sleepovers, going to see bloody 1D or Little Mix.
My sister looks back at her school life and cannot believe it was her! She is like a different person.

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 19:42:14

I think that it is circumstances and if they change then so can her friends. It sounds as if the school is a bit of a hot house with the super clever and super sporty.
A change for 6th form could be good, but I would go to all the open evenings with her and get a real gut feeling. I went to the all girls for the 6th form (from mixed) and that is when it was really hard, I was OK in class but I could never penetrate the cliques for any sort of social life.
My friend has DSs who were Home Educated and they went to the local, very large comprehensive for 6th form. They all fitted in and had a great social life through it, one would manage it anyway, but the eldest was like your DD and a worry but he was very happy-he even became a counsellor that younger DCs with problems went to see-not something that you could imagine beforehand.
When I went to university I was really worried, having had 2 years without much of a social life, but you are rather thrown together and no one knows anyone. I made some very good friends who are still friends today.
DS1 went to university without drinking-he still drinks very little now. He was in a great hall because they had a questionnaire first which asked things like 'do you work with background noise' , 'what time do you like to go to bed ' 'what interests' etc.
For the meantime I would try and get her volunteering for something-it is often easier if you are doing something-and looks good on a CV. How about a Saturday job (if she can get one-not easy)In the summer holidays she could perhaps get a job on a children's play scheme-the leaders tend to have fun together.
Don't despair-I know how dreadful things seem when you can't sleep-people change.
My BIL was very quiet and isolated when I first met him, aged about 20yrs-you wouldn't recognise him now as being the same person!

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 19:43:07

FB must be deadly-it makes it look as if everyone else is having a wonderful time.

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 19:44:16

Sorry-I was thinking 16-forget the job bit for the moment, but volunteering is still a good idea.

Virtuallyarts Wed 27-Feb-13 21:03:05

I think some girls do go quieter in their teens than at primary school, it may be a sort of defensive mechanism in the hurly burly of secondary school. Doesn't necesarily mean it will last, but is just a way of getting through those years.

What's your dd interested in - just wondering if there might be any clubs for teenagers with a shared interest? Obviously netball is one - but is there any other particular interest - eg Star Wars/hip hop, animals, whatever? It can make conversation easier if you're talkign to a fellow fan.

Could she ask to volunteer at school to help run a club for the younger ones? - quite a lot of schools do this, and it's somewhere to escape to at lunch, as well as really good for self-esteem, shyness and so on, to have to help the young ones.

coatonarack Thu 28-Feb-13 11:16:33

This is my daughter. Are you sure you're not my secret twin sister?

DD is almost 15 and is exactly the same: clever, pretty (think Harry Potters's Fleur Delacour), sweet, kind, but painfully shy and has no real friends. So shy that her Latin teacher has admitted that teachers forget about her in class, At Christmas she was left out of the form's "secret santa" and she is only invited out by one "friend" who, I suspect, is doing this as DD is her mum's charity case. I don't know what to do for her upcoming 15th birthday. Last year we took her and 2 friends to Harry Potter studios and her friends paired up and disappeared and DD was left crying on her own.

We are absolutely definitely changing her at 6th form. She plays the violin but I am also going to start her with 1-2-1 singing lessons so that she has to learn how to project her voice: hopefully this will mean that she is more confident about speaking up.

I think she will be fine at university and also your DD will be fine at university. She will be with more like-minded people, ie choosing a particular university, then choosing a particular course. All this is self-selection and thus will weed out those who are completely uncompatible.

Imagine going round a supermarket and having to be friends with everyone (I mean everyone) in there, because that's what it's like in school. My son will talk to anyone, but he is quite superficial. My DD is more introverted and deep. So again, by natural selection, some people will have more in common at the organic hummous bit rather than the own brand frozen sunday lunch on a plate bit. This is a bit of a weird metaphor but might help.

One last thing, I wouldn't normally recommend a website but if your DD likes creative writing, check out movellas.com - it's an online forum where you can post stories and other people comment on it. DD doesn't know that I've snooped on her page, but the support and kind words on there have brought a tear to my eye.

Cooroo Thu 28-Feb-13 14:19:18

Love the supermarket analogy! My DD went to secondary school with no friends as we'd moved house, and it was a good 3 years before she found her feet. For her, it was discovering herself as a goth and tracking down the other 'weirdos', dying and straightening her hair.

High school is a pretty horrible place to be much of the time, especially if without friends. I'm sure 6th form will be better, and uni or whatever better than that. It's awful watching your child at a difficult time, and so hard to realise they are not alone. How come all these lonely girls don't find each other??

QOD Thu 28-Feb-13 14:37:33

My dd is similar friends in school BUT won't socialise at all out. Won't do sleepovers, go shopping etc. would go to a concert and has with me, and would with certain friend but they aren't allowed ....
Soent the entire half term sitting watching TV. Meanwhile, I signed in n her Facebook and her friends are all meetin up, going out, sleeping over. They don't even invite her anymore, because she says no.
Unlike your dd, mine doesn't WANT to go anywhere or do anything.
Worries me as her dad is a sit at home allllll the time going no where, doing nothing and moaning about being bored.

Me? I'm out and about all the time, and even still do sleepovers with one of my friends!!

Rosirose Thu 28-Feb-13 14:45:10

Thanks thornrose. I just hope I can look back in a few years and wonder why I was so worried. I feel for your daughter. I actually think 13 yr olds can be seriously toxic I have heard it is the worst age for cattiness. Thanks exotic fruits for your comments. I am going to go to all the open days and it does def worry me that my dd will have diff trying to penetrate the cliques but as she clearly hasn't managed to do it in her current school, hopefully we won't be any worse off. Also, I'm hoping that if she is in a more 'normal' school she will feel better about herself. I love the idea about the questionnaire for the university. Is that a common practice? I have never heard of it before. Also, my dd does volunteer at the moment. She helps younger children on a Fri afternoon after school with reading but she hasn't really clicked with the other volunteers, many who are her age. Also, I have encouraged her to be a trainee leader on a holiday camp but whilst she hasn't said no there isn't really any enthusiasm there. I may sound ungrateful for your comments but I'm not. I'm really grateful for them. It makes me feel much better to hear that other people have been in the same position and then changed and also that there are other dd's out there who are experiencing the same or similar. Whilst many of my friends children are far from perfect (yes really) they don't have the same issues and whilst my friends often moan their Saturday night is ruined by the chauffeuring they have to do. I would far prefer to do that than know my dd is at home alone and going to bed at about 9.30pm! Thanks coatonarack for your message. Your experiences sound so similar to mine. I can so understand the hideous b.day outing. We have so been there! I will suggest movelias.com but I'm not sure how she now feels about creative writing. She used to love it but now she says she hates it. I'm sure it wasn't so bad when I was at school and I know my mother didn't worry about my social life/friends.

Virtuallyarts Thu 28-Feb-13 22:11:20

Indeed Cooroo, how can the shy girls be helped to find each other? What strikes me is that statistically there must be another girl at rr's dd's school in the same position in that year (surely? statisticians help me out!) but they may just not find each other. Could the school help out by guiding them towards each other?

More generally, wouldn't it be good if there was a forum where they could make internet friends with similar interests - but policing it would be so impossible.

Coatonarack, how about a birthday dinner (japanese? thai? mexican?) - at least then everyone has to stay put instead of being able to wander off and abandon the birthday girl. Or cinema - same thing applies, and then there is something to talk about over pizza afterwards?

QOD, would your dd have friends round to watch a dvd if she doesn't want to go out? I suppose some girls just like the security of being at their own house rather than being out and about?

rosirosi do you think it would be easier to overcome the cliques if dd went to the college where everyone is new? (though of course students from 'feeder' schools may turn up en masse so the cliques may still be there....) It will be interesting to hear from the school and the college at the open days how they help the new 6th formers to integrate - is it 'sink or swim' or do they have a buddy system, socials in the first week etc? (guessing wildly here, I have no idea what sort of things they do, but their answers to the question may be useful!)

thornrose Thu 28-Feb-13 22:17:25

It's a shame there wasn't a friendship notice board in High schools where children could somehow try to find like minded people.
Virtuallyarts - I'm sure you were on my thread about my dd's issues. You give fantastic advice and have such an interest in others, just saying blush

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