DD (12) is bored and sad(6 Posts)
This might be a bit long - sorry.
It's my gorgeous dd's birthday today, she is 12. Halfway through dinner in a really nice restaurant, she looked really sad and said she was bored. I thought she meant with the dinner so I started to say nicely that it was her choice and we could always go somewhere else for dessert but she said she is bored in general.
A bit of background. A very much wanted only child. She attends Online school due to anxiety so doesn't have the stimulation that other pre teens have. She is a high achiever but she has tutors on top of the work at online school to push her academically. She has previously tried every after school club and hobby and stuck with each for a year or two before getting bored with it. She doesn't like groups so team sports is out, she won't go to clubs etc where there are other kids - she has always preferred adult company to those her own age. She has 4 very best friends who she sees very regularly and she really enjoys their company etc.
She keeps talking about when she is older so she can drive, go where she wants and travel all over the place and feel free.
I guess her anxiety is making her feel like a prisoner - she sees a CBT once a week but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference.
Do any of you have any ideas of how I can make her feel more stimulated? More happy with being a 12 year old? More comfortable in her own skin? This week her hormones do seem to have been quite strong.
I suspect if she had her way she would be zooming all over Europe every weekend - she absolutely thrives on travel and loves the idea of independence.
IMO this is the problem with responding to anxiety in children by taking away all the stimuli that make them anxious. Children should be taught coping strategies and anxiety-easing self-talk, and should be exposed to anxiety-provoking stimuli in steadily increasing doses, in order to help them learn psychological skills that will aid them all their lives.
Letting a child cut themselves off from the world because the world scares them doesn't make them less scared of the outside world. In fact, it makes them more scared, because the adults around them have caved in and agreed with them that the world is so scary that they are fine with walling you off.
Now, you've also shown that in addition to telling her what amounts to "you're right to be scared of school," it sounds like you've also been telling her what amounts to "if you're bored with anything, just stop doing whatever it is and we'll support you."
To me it sounds like you should be insisting she sticks with something through the boredom. An anxious kid who bails on activities after 1-2 years every time will turn into an adult who will, in spite of her clear desire for freedom and independence, not be able to hold a job and will stay reliant on parents for a long, long time.
It's time to talk to your kid about the fact that there's only one constant here: her getting bored and being unwilling to continue things after a relatively short time. She needs to learn how to commit even to things that feel "boring" for a time, commit to them for long enough for them to come around to the other side and be interesting again.
I think you've "validated" your child right into a corner she feels she can't escape. I'd bet anything that on some level she craves being told to keep at something, or to work past boredom, or that you're not going to encourage her to shut out the world due to anxiety. This is why I can't ever agree with people who, when their child says they're scared of something, insist on "validating" the emotion by saying "yes, that was really scary, wasn't it?"
It's not kind to children to act as if the child's subjective perception is always in line with objective, rational reality. As parents we have a duty to help our children see that even though their feelings may be understandable, they're not always giving them an accurate or helpful picture of the world around them.
How long has she been out of mainstream school? Do you think you need to re-consider that decision? Of course it depends on the child, but I know lots of 12 year olds (I have a 12yo DS), I’m not saying they all love school but I wouldn’t describe any of them as bored and counting down the years until they are 18.
Has she got any ideas herself of how to tackle the boredom? Ask her for suggestions - ones that she can try now, not something she can’t do for a few years. If she doesn’t like team sports, how about tennis, climbing, swimming or horse riding? Don’t necessarily dismiss things that haven’t suited her in the past - for example, she may not have enjoyed brownies/beavers/cubs but scouts/guides has quite a different feel to it as the kids are more committed - they have made a more active choice to be there. Challenge her a little if she rebuffs all your suggestions - if she says she’s bored, then it’s up to her to try something that will take her out of her comfort zone. Otherwise she’ll just stay bored!
You sound like a lovely caring mum who wants the best for your DD. But I agree with the previous poster that the best may not always mean the easiest / most comfortable / least challenging route.
WombofOnesOwn - you make it sound as though she said one day "I don't want to go to school" and I said "okay then - let's not bother anymore". That is far from what actually happened but I really am not going to go in to all of the details here. Suffice to say it was incredibly difficult and emotional for the whole family - no decisions were made lightly and her psychologist supported our decision in light of how she was feeling. She has been at Online school for a couple of months and the difference it has made has been incredible.
There are alot of perceived thoughts rather than facts in your assumptions too - not particularly helpful but I do appreciate that you have your own opinion and that you took the time to respond.
Arapaima - maybe it's a girl thing to want to be grown up - a lot of dd's friends feel the same way. Partly I suspect it's because we are rural and to get anywhere they need to be driven (no public transport).
She has just started to learn to play the drums and is also learning Spanish at a local college so she isn't "shut off from the world". She just doesn't go to school - other than that she does all of the other things that children her age do (parties, shopping trips, sleepovers).
I can honestly assure both pp's that nothing about what we have been through has been easy but as a parent I am totally committed to keeping her mental health a priority - I've seen other children with anxiety forced in to situations that they have been unable to cope with and it has had a very bad effect on them.
Anxiety is an absolute bitch.
Having brought up a child with severe anxiety/depression, I'm wondering if "bored" might not be her word of expressing feelings of discomfort and the sense of everything being flat and being unable to connect to the world that comes with anxiety and depression.
thanks corythatwas for your response
When she is feeling hormonal her moods seem much more 'down' so I suspect you might be right in thinking that bored means dis-engaged. A lot of the other time of the month she is quiet and sweet but not quite as low. I do understand that anxiety and depression go together sometimes but her therapist has said she is only showing symptoms of anxiety at the moment.
It's potentially on the cards though I suppose and I am doing every single bit of research I can.
I never thought parenting would be this hard! Still, I'd slay dragons for my girl. She rocks.
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