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Social isolation - should I move her?

(33 Posts)
Macsquirt25 Thu 07-Dec-17 07:20:56

DD is in Year 5. Since Feb last year she has been experiencing some exclusion from her friendship groups. Not outright nastiness, but just being left out, being told by her friends that they needed 'private chats'. She was not invited on play dates but was always made aware of them by the other girls. I spent a while telling her to ignore them, and play with others, I spoke to the Head and requested that when they set up the new classes for Sept she be put with others to make new friends.
She was much happpier in Sept, but then the new friends she'd made seemed to be swallowed up with the old ones. They took a vote to have her removed from their group of friends. Pastoral support seems sketchy, the Head wasn't interested in meeting me until he heard I was looking elsewhere. We're meeting him tonight.
She is quite an overbearing character, very intense and bossy, but also incredibly sensitive and wears her heart on her sleeve. Yesterday she received a note from a new friend she'd made who wrote 'stay away from me I don't want you in my life".
She doesn't want to move schools but told me last week she wished she had a knife so she Could stab herself. This is typically dramatic of her, I'm not hiding the knives just yet, but I know it's her way of communicating how unhappy she is. She has gone from being confident and surrounded by friends to grateful for anyone showing her any friendship and terrified of unpsetting her peers. Should I move her? She will meet all these girls again at secondary school (where I teach), but I'm starting to think that going in with a new bunch of friends and hopefully her self esteem back will be enough. Has anyone else experienced this type of bullying? I am going to write to the school governors too I think.
Thanks all
EW

beeny Thu 07-Dec-17 07:28:29

I had this with my daughter and she is mixed race. I am not sure if that made a difference but no one looked like her and perhaps a religious issue. My daughter's nature sounds vey similar to your daughter's.
I wished I had moved her, however she is now in secondary ( local one ) and she is very happy. Most of those girls are at the secondary but their power is diluted. I have to go for an appointment but happy to speak later.

Balearica Thu 07-Dec-17 07:30:37

Yes I'd move her if you can. It sounds as if the group is quite ingrained at the school and that the staff do not have a handle on it.

My DD went through similar and I wished I had moved her straight away. The damage to her self esteem is permanent.

sothatdidntwork Thu 07-Dec-17 07:33:44

Poor you, that sounds awful. I am currently of a generally 'if it isn't working, move' mindset about schools - but I realise that isn't always the answer! What are the options for moving her - are there some schools with (crucially) a good critical mass of children, including girls - so, say, at least 2 form entry? And preferably teachers who will help her integrate which wouldn't be easy in yr 5, and be good at pastoral care generally?

Is there any way she could go to a different secondary school as well - might be worth at least considering it, as sometimes dc do carry issues over from the past (sorry!)? But you are right that if she goes to a different school it may be easier - is it quite a large secondary as that can help?

You sound quite clear sighted about what may be (partly) causing the social issues - (I mean your reference to intense and bossy) - is there any way you can tactfully help her with addressing that if she moves as that might help her not to take the problems with her? It's very very difficult if her self esteem is already knocked, so you don't want to seem critical, but would she listen to role play ideas?

Good luck both of you - these situations are horrible!

sothatdidntwork Thu 07-Dec-17 07:40:32

"Not outright nastiness, but just being left out, being told by her friends that they needed 'private chats'. She was not invited on play dates but was always made aware of them by the other girls"

That is outright nastiness, btw! But very frequent behaviour - it would be good if the dc were taught that this is not acceptable. But obviously it is even worse for your dd now. Just wanted to say re Beeny's comment on dilution of power - I think that's one of the reasons why larger schools can help. In a smaller school, power is more concentrated and also there can be nowhere to go if you fall out with the first group, because as you say, there are overlaps and merging.

I'd also echo Balearica's point about the damage to self-esteem being lasting (though I hope not necessarily permanent!). But bear in mind I am a 'shoulda coulda didna' mover, so have a particular perspective!

sothatdidntwork Thu 07-Dec-17 07:57:19

Also "She doesn't want to move schools"

Ime a dc will only very rarely want to move schools, however bad it is. They fear change. And there is usually something that is ok about the existing school, whether it's one dc who is not unpleasant to them, a nice teacher etc, which they think could be even worse at a new school. So you can end up holding on for one more term, then another, then another, in the hope that things will improve. Then in the end look back thinking 'we should have moved dc but now it is too late'.
So while I am not in anyway saying steamroller over your dd's objections, I think at that age I would gently try to persuade her at least to go and have a look round other schools, so that she can see what it could be like. And maybe talk to her about how you would support her through any change.
Sorry about my multiple replies - can you tell this is a subject I have pondered a lot?!!

Bekabeech Thu 07-Dec-17 09:07:40

I would move her.
I would also take her to see the GP about the knife comment. It may not seem that serious but in my experience by the time a child tells a parent something like that it can be very serious. Does your DD have any SN?

You want to move her to a school which will take this kind of thing very seriously, and will intervene quickly

AlexanderHamilton Thu 07-Dec-17 09:14:52

I'd move her too. I moved Ds at the end of year 8 for a variety of reasons. He didn't want to but we got to crisis point.

To contrast with how your school has acted yesterday I was contacted by head of Welfare (secondary) to tell me that ds's science teacher had reported that Ds was unhappy because he said he had no friends & everybody hates him. They told me what they'd done (spoken to him to make sure this was just a one off incident & he wasn't feeling like that all the time) & they were keeping my an eye on him around school. It turned out to be typical teen angst because they were working in pairs & his friends had already paired off but it just shows that some schools care about kids mental health & some don't.

beeny Thu 07-Dec-17 21:49:59

Hope everything works out for you and your daughter.

Macsquirt25 Thu 07-Dec-17 22:25:19

Thanks everyone. Appreciate your input. We are quite rural, her current school is about 200 and that's big for round here. Going to look at another one which is half that size. Met her head this afternoon, he doesn't seem to grasp how unhappy she is. But he has a few things he wants to try. I want to give it til the new year and see what that brings. OH is against a move. Thinks she needs to toughen up.
EW

lizsparkles Thu 07-Dec-17 22:31:22

You mentioned "told me last week she wished she had a knife so she Could stab herself"...If I were you, I would not even take time to write here to ask advice. I would just move her away from there.

The people kids surround themselves with must be very friendly and supportive. Social isolation in childhood will cause long term damage psychologically. Don't wait any longer. Just move!!!

sothatdidntwork Thu 07-Dec-17 22:32:15

What sort of things does the head want to try op? Sounds promising that he is proposing concrete steps.
Hmm, if the other school is only 100 from Yr R to yr 6 that is indeed quite small. Any other larger options - sounds as if there may not be?

Macsquirt25 Fri 08-Dec-17 07:07:44

They have 2 pastoral support people- he's going to change her to the other one. I asked that she touched base with dd every day, rather than presume she's ok. He agreed. They have a programme on building self esteem she will do. And get the 3 main other girls to write down honestly what they think went wrong (the four of them used to be inseparable) and how they think it could be put right. Going to let their parents know so the girls realise it's serious. Possibility of a counsellor. I don't think there's much else he can do.
No bigger school - just tiny ones with 60 in YR to Y6! The secondary is only 500 - but I teach there so will be able to keep a very close eye.

MsGameandWatching Fri 08-Dec-17 07:13:37

I think Year 5 is awful for this actually. We had it last year and it was miserable. Combined with an ineffective and uncaring teacher, friendship issues just got totally out of hand. This year has been better for the Year 6 teacher has worked really hard on it and bringing them all together. It could just be a year 5 glitch but you need the school to be on side in helping resolve it.

sothatdidntwork Fri 08-Dec-17 07:22:17

The self esteem programme sounds good.

As a matter of interest, how does the school regard taking a vote to exclude her from friendship group and how did it react to those girls - was that regarded as "oh well we can't make them like her, nothing much we can do about that", or did they speak to the girls about how there could have been other kinder ways to approach problems?

Do you think that it would be worth getting hold of one of those 'how to be a friend' books and see if they can help in terms of tactfully addressing with dd the fact that 'intense and bossy' (sorry, I know these are your words but it can still be hard to read them from someone else) may not always be the best approach? The American Girls series (see amazon for details!) has lots of good material on friendship issues, but I'm sure there are others as well.

helpmum2003 Fri 08-Dec-17 07:28:58

I would move her. Had the same with my ds and eventually moved him after 15 months of misery towards end Y4 and wish we did it sooner.
No child is perfect but old school made us feel it was all ds fault and his self esteem shattered. No problems at new school where they nipped any problems in bud and worked with all kids to improve their weaker points.
My ds didn't want to move at the time but I think he just couldn't imagine being elsewhere and hates change.
His self esteem boosting meant he on occasion played with the unkind boys as live locally in the village and he just left if they were mean.
Moved from a class with 12 boys to one of 4.
I so feel for you it's a horrible situation. Good luck xx

helpmum2003 Fri 08-Dec-17 07:31:01

Just seen your dh thinks she should 'toughen up'. NO! She should be protected from bullying. Poor child xx

Macsquirt25 Sat 09-Dec-17 08:59:22

I talked to some of the other mums yesterday as I had my suspicions about her winding people up, stirring and trying to play people off against each other. I was right. She has also said some stupid things to the others. She has no filter. I'm going to look into some social skills work with her. These are 9 year old girls, no one is at fault, they all need some help. And my dd has some lessons to learn, poor little thing no wonder she is so unhappy. She is very astute and will know she is partly to blame. Her self esteem is on the floor. At least I know what I'm dealing with now. She has caused her own social isolation, what must that feel like?

sothatdidntwork Sat 09-Dec-17 09:29:13

Oh, that must have been hard to hear, but at least you have some idea what the problem is and can work on it with dd.

I say 'some idea' - of course what you've heard is what the dms have been told about how their dds' perceive it. There may be more to it - in that your dd's stirring and playing off may have started as a response to something going on in the group - eg the 'we need a private chat' and not being invited on playdates.

So yes definitely definitely work on the social skills issues but I wouldn't assume she is the sole cause of her isolation - there may be more going on here in that she was initially responding to being pushed out. Obviously that wasn't a great response if so! - so worth working on other strategies. Either way, I agree with you - poor her! Though she is very lucky to have you to help her.

GreenTulips Sat 09-Dec-17 09:34:44

The self esteem programme sounds good

That's is victim blaming

Are the others getting an 'Anti bullying coarse'? Or a friendship coarse

sothatdidntwork Sat 09-Dec-17 10:00:17

Hmm, yes that was me greentulips (saying the self-esteem course sounds good), and I think you have a good point!

Things have moved on here in this particular case, in that op has discovered more info, but as a general point i think you're right - not much use doing a self-esteem course for the victim if you don't also address the behaviour of the perpetrators and at least put measures in place to make sure it stops. (Which is not to say that self-esteem courses can't help if someone has been the victim, and needs help to realise that does not make them a useless/weak/bad person.)

AMumma16 Sat 09-Dec-17 14:17:27

I would mover her, personally. Although having moved my child to a different smaller school because of exactly the same issues that your dd is experiencing, we realised that actually a larger school has more to offer and more likelihood of clicking with someone.
At least moving schools gives a chance of starting afresh because life is too short to stay in an unhappy situation for too long - especially for kids.
My main advice if you do move her is to have a good chat with the new headteacher and assess whether they are hot on pastoral care - and check the Ofsted Parents view too.
It must be really frustrating for you - I hope one or two other parents at the current school are supportive. Good luck.

AMumma16 Sat 09-Dec-17 14:26:02

sothatdidntwork - just read your message and I totally agree. Schools do sometime offer friendship groups where they all get together and work through their issues but from experience we found that the perpetrators were being so unkind that our child was scared to take part. We raised this and we ended up being blamed by the school (easy way out for them) for our child being bullied further. In fact we had just suggested the perpetrators fully understand the impact of their behaviour towards all the kids they were picking on before the group took place.

sothatdidntwork Sat 09-Dec-17 14:39:41

Yes, I think a discussion group with both the child who is being ostracised and the ostracisers could feel (and be!) very 'unsafe' for that ostracised child. I haven't been in that position, but if I were I would consider very carefully before allowing my dc to take part in a group with the perpetrators - even supervised by a counsellor or teacher.

It is difficult. In the case of physical bullying and name calling by non friends, my guess is that the most effective way of stopping it is sanctions that actually bite. I'm not sure the touchy feely stuff works.

In a case like this where it is friends who are doing the ostracising/rejecting dd I don't know - sanctions probably won't work because they won't make the dc like dd again. But a 'group circle' is also unlikely to feel safe for the dd. An adult explaining the impact to the friends might I suppose - that may be the most likely to be effective approach.

In this case though it is complicated because op has more information which suggests that maybe dd is also engaging in poor friendship behaviour. (Though of course this may be response to initial rejection by the friends - we don't know.)

Op, good luck - these things can be agonising.

Macsquirt25 Sat 09-Dec-17 21:22:25

Thanks for all your input sothat, you're right - did the isolation come first? Chicken or egg? I have a plan to help her work on her social behaviour, and we'll see how the next few weeks go. And whether her school keep up their side of the bargain too.

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