Shy 15 yr old dd, no real friends(53 Posts)
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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.
Vitruallyarts - i have no idea! I was helpless. It just happened in its own time. We could all save our DCs so much heartache if they'd only take our advice and not waste time making the mistakes we made, but it just doesn't happen!
That said, my DD plays violin and we play together at a local music centre. Nice kids there - including her new boyfriend! Not smarmy music kids, many of them play guitar in bands and are goth/metal.
She's just not interested I them out of school at all
She'll have old primary friends round if their mums are popping in, but nope, she just won't.
I don't think it is common practice Rosirose-but it worked well. It is luck who you get to live with.
Rest assured that she is not alone. I taught a lovely girl. I met her mother a few years later when she was at secondary and she was just like your DD. She would try activities but she just concentrated on the activity and went home. A very intelligent girl, good looking, everything going for her-very like her elder sister who managed to make lots of friends. Her mother was worried and didn't know what to do.
It is a pity that they can't all get together-there must be more in your area, but it is a hidden problem.
Ha! Listen to this piece of gob-shte from DD's half-year school report:
"DD has a very good set of close friends, who care about her and have shown their support to her."
No they haven't. They drove her to abject misery over Christmas, so much so that DD hacked her arm to pieces. We have the first appointment with CAHMS tomorrow but the school deny everything and insinuate that the problem lies with me, implying that I'm a bad parent.
She is definitely not staying on to 6th form.
Thanks virtuallyarts. You really do give good advice and I agree, there must be other girls like my dd in her school but how to find them?? In one primary school I went to they had a little friendship stop like a bus stop and we were told if the children had no one to play with they waited there and someone would come and get them. It wasn't my dd school but I'd love to know if it worked! Not of course that it would work even after the age of about 7 yrs old. But I loved the idea.
Exoticfruits - thanks for your messages. It is interesting that you have seen the problem from a teachers point of view so it's clearly not unique.
Coatonarack - I can't believe what crap from the school. How can they say she has a good set of close friends if she hasn't. I really don't think they are interested in anything apart from results. Unless a child is disruptive or they're doing badly they just don't seem to want to help. Good luck with CAHMS. I really hope it goes well.
A lot of primary schools have 'playground friends' where you have a post or bench or similar where you go if you have no one to play with and some year 6 sort them out. It wouldn't work in secondary but some have pupil mentors to help out, but not much help as your DD's school clearly isn't helping.
I would say that the fact she had friends at primary school was a good sign- I am sure that it is circumstances more than anything. Unfortunately she hasn't made the friends and it is even harder to make changes within school - I think that you have to make the efforts outside school and really research the 6th forms.
Thanks tr and rosi for nice comments about the good advice - I suppose the test is, does any of it actually work though?! As to that I am not sure....
Rosirose, do you think the school would be responsive if you just went in and asked them to get her together with another girl who's in the same position? I suppose one problem is that if you're shy, another shy girl may not be the most likely to 'take' - you need a Miss Chatty to bring you out. On the other hand, nothing ventured nothing gained - if it doesn't work, you haven't really lost anything, so it could be worth a try. And two quiet girls can have just as nice a time watching dvds, going to the cinema, trailing round shops etc, as chatty ones can.
Coatonarack, good luck with CAHMS, really hope it goes well today.
Exotic fruits, I think you're right about the hidden problem. Do you think, from your experience as a teacher (though it sounds as though you're primary not secondary?) that there is much/anything a school can do, assuming that it has the resources and the will (and I realise that they have many many other things on their plate!). Given the time and staff available to focus on it, do you think that things like pairing up the lonely girls (or boys! - just that this is a thread about a dd) can potentially work at secondary school, or is that outside your sphere of experience?
At DD's primary school there was a "buddy bench" which sounds similar to everyone else's experiences. It's such a shame that at secondary school they get left to their own devices, even though the problems are almost worse.
I was primary and it is much easier e.g if I knew there was a problem I could pair them up with a DC at lunchtime and give them a job like sharpening pencils where they can sit and chat on their own.
Secondary schools could do more but I have very limited experience to what they do do. Lunchtime clubs are quite good, if they have them. I know that my nephew was a pupil mentor which meant that he would have helped sort them out. At that age it has to be subtle, you can't say 'you two are both lonely - why not pal up' - they would both hate it. If you approach the school you will need to be very subtle- it would be easy to embarrass your DD.
I think it is the situation and not your DD- although the isolation isn't helping.
My path through school had a lot of changes and varying experiences:
1. Started school and immediately made a best friend so was very happy.
2. Unfortunately moved to a different part of the country after 6 months- had no friends at all at the next school- just used to stand and watch at playtime.
3. Luckily temp accommodation and moved to a very similar sized school and loved it- lots of friends.
4. We to secondary school and made 2good friends who are still friends today, but if they were off I was lost.
5. After 3 years changed secondary and loved it, a wide circle of friends.
6. Changed for 6th form, all girls for the first time- very cliquey. All friendly enough in class, but breaks difficult and a no go socially.
7. Went to university and a wide circle of friends, some still friends today.
I am just putting all that to encourage- I know what it is to lie in bed and worry about children. I do it at the moment with DS3 who is isolated at the moment through circumstances- I expect it to change, but even so it gives sleepless nights.
What I am trying to say is that it really isn't your DD - there will be solutions- it is the finding of them that is difficult!
She also isn't the only one- however -those in that situation are keen to hide it.
exotic fruits, your message is so encouraging because it shows that it is often chance, luck, circumstances etc that decide whether dcs make friends at school, and not some 'intrinsic' quality of that dc - so as you say, there are solutions!
I think you're right that the teenage equivalent of pencil sharpening (!) would be possible for secondary schools to organise for the currently lonely dcs - but obviously it takes staff resources and input, and to a school may not seem as high a priority as it does to the dparents. Plus I also have a feeling that not many parents with dcs in this position approach the secondary school, so schools are not that often asked to take action - that's just speculation though, as I don't work in one!
The problem is that I would have wanted the floor to swallow me up if my mother went in to sort it out, especially since you can't rely on the school to be understanding and diplomatic. In the 6th form I would have said that I was reading in the library at lunchtimes, or getting on with homework, because that is what I liked doing! I must have told my brother because after I left school my parents moved to the other end of the country and he had to go to a grammar school single sexed school, he was fine, after a shaky start, but I remember him saying ' I thought it was going to be like you in the 6th form'. And yet my friend's HEed DS who has never really had many friends, having trailed after his brother's interests has joined a 6th form and has a very active social life. It is very much luck.
I was very like your daughter...and like someone else said, I had an enormous change aged 17...I just grew into myself and felt more comfortable speaking and mixing.
I can't advise much more than others have....but can I ask...what is she especially good at? Can she write well? She could begin a blog about her experiences....this can be very fulfiling and can also lead to blog awards, meet-ups and social events.
As she's academic, I just thought that this might be an option.
oooh, MrsMushroom - how do you get on the blog circuit? Do you just set up a wordpress blog and hope for the best or are there specific websites you link to so that your blog is read by the wider world?
You can't even say it was the school. Another girl moved with me from the same school, but the year below, she didn't appear to have many friends there, but she was a great hockey player (she became a games teacher) and she broke into a clique easily.
As MrsMushroom says, an interest is the key. I hated being a teenager - life was much better when I got older. I have had some pretty traumatic times, but the one period I wouldn't really want to do again is 12-18- they can be very difficult for a shy person. Now that I am older I can say that I would much rather go on a fell walk than a party, but as a teenager it makes you seem odd!
When you look around everyone seems to be getting on better e.g when I was a widow weekends seemed to be made up of families out and about- however scratch the surface and it isn't the case.
Anyway- very best wishes to her- she sounds lovely.
Coat I'm not a Blogger but Mumsnet has a section where there are a lot of experienced bloggers....it's a case of writing the blog and building up contacts I think...so they comment on your blog and you get more followers.
That's simplified...but basically the gist. Also there are groups such as Tots100 set up to help people get further ahead and through them you hear about awards etc and how best to promote yourself.
Rosirose I could have written the same message as you and I sympathise I have worried so much over the years. DD is also 15, almost 16. It has helped her to visit some other options for 6th form and she will be leaving the all girls state grammar to go to art college and do a level 3 diploma instead of A levels (cue sniffy opinions of others but I don't care because we think she will be much happier). There are some mean girls around and quiet shy types are easy to be unkind to..making plans and not inviting DD, personal comments etc You all know the drill. However DD has remained her quirky arty self and strangely enough lately she has finally got friendly with some girls at school (in year above and another form). I totally agree with others that it is the situation not your DD that is to blame. I believe school is rubbish for some people and they come into their own later.
The things that helped us were..planning some things to do esp when you know that there is something on that they might have been left out of. Meeting up with family because the cousins always have a great time together. Talking it through (we had a look at the Queen Bees and wannabes book which helped us talk and laugh about some of the girls at school) and just generally keeping her spirits up through the worst bits of school. In some ways GCSE year has been good because we say put your head down and get your exams and you can get out of the school and move on. She still feels she has missed out on some of the teenage fun times but she would never have felt that comfortable with some of the things that have gone on anyway.
DD has set up her own ETSY shop and has sold some of her work and has got a few pen pals through interests in bands/books/movies and art.
I agree with others who have said about helping your DD to tap into what she is good at and enjoys and see if that opens up some socialising opportunities or maybe a PT job. (I had a great social life when working in a book shop because the other people were interesting and funny). Sending you and DD all the best. I am seeing some light at the end of a tunnel and I hope you will too.
Lovely tips Nick StM, particularly arranging to do things to 'fill the diary' a bit. Even inviting your own friends round for dinner can be a nice diversion for dteens, parents' friends are usually more fun than own parents!
Or just going out somewhere can be a boost - theatre, cinema, whatever. I think also very important to make the exoticfruits point - that people can seem to be having a better time, but in reality may not be, and have their own probs - often not obvious to the dteens.
Thanks, for all your postings. I would say that my dd life is a bit like exotic fruits pnt 6. I also (in my more rational moments!) realise that everyone has their own issues with being a teen. MrsMushroom it is good to hear that you came into yourself at about 17 and she is very keen to move at sixth form which is def something to look forward to. My only concern at the back of my mind is that my dd was incredibly popular when she was younger. I remember clearly that in yr 3, her teacher said everyone wanted to be her friend, sit next to her, be her partner etc. She also said that without being rude, she couldn't understand it because whilst she was kind and lovely she did nothing to warrant the attention she was getting. She then said that if she remained so popular my dd would need help dealing with it but if she lost the attention she would also probably need help dealing with it. Later that year, she was bullied a little (but we ignored it) and by the time she got to year 5 she had friends but she was def not one of the 'in' girls anymore and the friends chopped and changed and she remained in contact with no one when she left the school. Since then she has got quieter and quieter. I would love for her to have fun with her cousins but she is the youngest and all the others are pretty loud so she stays quiet (I have asked my brother and sister-in-law to ask their kids to help but I really don't want it to be a pity party. Also, my daughter is lovely so it shouldn't have to be.) Consequently, sometimes I actively avoid the full on family socials. Which leads me back to is it just her environment or is there anything I have missed? Btw she has a great sense of humour and is fun to be with. She is also completely open with both myself and my dh. She also adores her older brother who is 17 (when she sees him - he is always out)
Rosirose. I think that the fact that your DD has a good sense of humour and is fun to be is a really positive thing. It would be worse if she was getting depressed. It makes me think that she is just in a situation where she hasn't managed to negotiate the friendship cliques at school. It also gives me hope that she will come out of herself given the right circumstances, so at college perhaps.TBH she might actually be too nice. Sounds odd I know but it takes a lot of resilience and a thick skin to get through school years and if you haven't got a thick skin or a loud mouth it can end up making some people go inside their shell somewhat especially if you have been unlucky enough not to find a close friend or couple of friends. That can just be bad luck and that is what we said to our DD when she was upset and lonely. Our DD has had 3 really crap years at school but finally some of the girls seem to have matured and broken away from certain groups. Can't quite believe this but DD went to a cafe after school yesterday with some frends and today a group of 5 of them have gone on the train to Bath. I am hoping that finally even if it is just for these last few weeks DD will have a bit of fun and start to rebuild her self esteem. My advice is keep talking to your DD and having some fun together. Let her know that she has a great personality and other people are missing out on spending time with her. Look out for any opportunities to extend her life outside school..work, sports or hobbies. I am sure it will come right. It is just a crappy few years for loads of teens. Plus the so called popular ones sometimes are hiding troubles of their own. Ye gods DD2 has told me what some in her Y9 get up to!! Be glad your DD hasn't gone down that road. My DD2 is very sociable and popular and even she has had to negotiate some friendship issues (name calling for not having a boyfriend..called a baby and virgin Mary!) Quiet or vivacious..it can be a nightmare for anyone! Keep going and make sure DD keeps her sense of humour and fun and she will be ok. New start new people for Y12.
I'm sorry your dd is going through this & I imagine it must be so difficult to watch, however I would say that I was exactly the same from about 13-17 & the worst part for me was actually seeing my mum upset about it. I felt bad at not having many friends & desperately lacked confidence (think it started when I got braces & glasses at age 13) & concentrated on studying. I got a part time job in a shop at 17 & that massively helped from a confidence perspective but I didn't truly come into my own until uni.
Don't know what changed then really, but I got my confidence back, made loads of friends & had a ball there.
I did go on to get a fab job, am married with 3 gorgeous boys & have tonnes of friends (I'm 36 now). I'm not meaning to sound big headed, more to say that I'm sure this will pass. Hard as it is, please try not to stress yourself (& therefore your dd) as it will all turn out ok & others will appreciate her for the fantastic girl you know she is. All the best.
Rosi did your dd go significantly quieter at transition to secondary school? I think that transition can sometimes be a bit of a sink or swim thing in some schools, friendship wise, and while 95% swim, a few don't - and that is often a matter of luck. Then if you find you haven't made friends it seems/is safer to go quiet, not draw too much attention to yourself.
That's my theory, anyway, as to why some girls get less outgoing in their pre/early teens! Could explain why, as people on this thread have experienced, they come back out of the shell at say 16/17 or so - everyone is a bit more mature, so it's less daunting to try to socialise.
One other thing - is your dd tech'd up with access to bbm or whatever the other girls use? if not, I know there are pros and cons, but would it be worth considering? If all the other girls are messaging, it may be hard to stay in the loop when things are being arranged. Sorry if you've already done that, and that's a non issue!
Onedev has a point about my dd seeing me upset. I do try and hide it but when something new happens I know she can see it on my face. Which I think also puts more pressure on her. (I have also worked very hard at not asking her who she sat next to at lunch on a daily basis - paranoid mum or what!). It is so nice to read onedev that you got a fab job, married and have kids. I just want her (and my ds) to be happy.
Virtuallyarts, she did go significantly quieter at her large secondary school and I do think you are right about the sink or swim etc. But she was definitely going quieter towards the end of her primary school. She also gets so anxious about her work and gets so upset when she thinks she hasn't understood something, even though we tell her all the time it doesn't matter. She does have a blackberry and she does use it which as you say is good in some ways but not others. She also has the computer etc.
Nickstmoritz you are so right about the thick skin for teenagers. I'm so pleased I won't be going there again, I remember so well the mood swings and the friendship issues! I also know that even those with good friendship groups (like your dd2) have problems. I really hope that the change at year 12 will be successful and it will be clear it was the environment that was wrong for her. I just hope that things don't stay the same because not only will she need to deal with the harder work she will also have new teachers, new environment and new kids.
How much older are the cousins? I know you've got understandable reservations about asking them to take her under their wing, but I would be tempted. They're most likely to be 'on her side', and could maybe go off at family functions to listen to music with her, play some video games - fun, and a real confidence boost to be with slightly older teens (I'm making lots of assumptions about their ages). Depends on what the cousins are like, of course, but if they would play ball it could be a good start.
Netball club - would it be feasible for your dd to ask a few of the girls over at the weekend? (Problem - I know! - is that you may not even want to suggest it in case dd gets knocked back if they say no)
What about your ds? I expect you don't want to make him 'responsible' for your dd, but is there anything she could seamlessly go along with him and his friends to - cinema, maybe?
It really does sound as though it's the current environment and not your dd - your dd sounds great, funny, friendly and anyone would be lucky to have her as her/his friend!
I just wanted to tell you about my experiences and that my life was/is a bit like your DD's.
Has she said why she hates sleepovers? Anything in particular about them?
Did she have any friends at primary school? Could she get back in touch with them?
Do you think she could possibly have a problem with reading signs/ misinterpreting people or any annoying habits? (Not suggesting this is ur DD's fault btw).
Could you pull her out of school and home-educate? At least then she may keep some of her self-esteem. When I was at sec.school I remember an overwhelming sense of dread that I would be left on my own at lunchtime, no-one to work with for pair-work, picked last for teams etc. It dominated those years.
If I was seen alone, idiots would shout, 'LONER! LONER!' at me.
And some of the teachers weren't much better, a spanish TA, once said to me one lunch-time, when I was doing some work in a classroom, (I had a lovely tutor who let me stay in there at lunchtime), 'Why don't you have any friends?', I didn't know what to say
The overwhelming thing for me has been the sense of shame surrounding it. I never told my parents and tried to pretend things were fine, etc. Is your DD quite open about discussing her lack of friends?
Because I really wish I had been more open and honest about it- I may have solved the issues easier.
BTW, things got worse for me, I did stupid things to try and get friends- I drank to excess, started smoking etc, as an attempt to be more accepted (only worked temporarily).
I also put up with horrible friends and boyfriends who used me basically, cos I just wanted to have someone.