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DD being excluded by 'popular' girls and don't know how to help her

(11 Posts)
ejunder Mon 06-Dec-10 17:24:34

My 9 year old bubbly confident girl changed school last year and settled well although it was tougher than we all expected. The other girls weren't as 'open' as I'd have hoped and she had to work quite hard to make friends, which she did. The friendships were somewhat at the periphery of already tightly formed groups but she seemed happy and stable. However, things seem to have gone downhill.

We had a tearful out pouring last night that since disclosing to a couple of the dominant girls in the class that she's dyslexic (they asked why she leaves assembly once a week for tutor session) she's been 'left out' at playtime. She told me she's 'unpopular and doesn't have any friends'.

She's desperate for me not to talk to her teacher but I'm feeling compelled to do something. Although I'm not sure what this would accomplish.

More importantly I just don't know what to tell her or how to help her manage this so that it doesn't damage her sense of self worth and self belief. Or what she can do to change the situation. I remember from my own primary school days that some girls can be really unpleasant to each other and I don't want her going through that but to be honest I didn't have strategies that helped me either avoid it or feel ok/better about things that happened.

Any experiences or thoughts/ideas anyone can share would be much appreciated. Thanks!

defineme Mon 06-Dec-10 17:34:03

If they have explicitly left her out because of her dyslexia then I'm afraid talking to the teacher is the only option-what if this happens to other children?This needs nipping in the bud-really nasty stuff.With ds1 I just said that he had to trust me about talking to the teacher because I've seen this before and he hadn't.

If the school are unsupportive you need to quote (preferably in writing)their school bullying policy to the head alongside details of what she's experiencing.

There are lots of good books on Amazon about friendship and self esteem for kids.

There will also be lots of girls who aren't the popular ones-perhaps she'd do well to focus on those girls/boys. In my ds's y4 class have mixed sex friendships.

Can she form friendships at clubs unrelated to school-this will give her a boost too.

Goingspare Mon 06-Dec-10 17:48:13

Are there any less 'alpha' girls you could invite round to play? Most girls aren't horrible, but the dominant and loud can set the tone and the quieter don't always speak up to defend in case they're next to get excluded.

I do agree the teacher needs to know if it's related to her dyslexia.

JamieLeeCurtis Mon 06-Dec-10 18:09:26

There's a good book called "Bullies, Big-Mouths and So-Called Friends", which I'd advise you to get hold of. It talks not just about the "obvious" sort of bullying, but the sort done by "friends". It will help make clear to her that whatever is going on is not because of anything about her.

I would go and talk to the school. I did so when my DS was being bullied, and I regret not doing it sooner, because it did damage his self-esteem. In my case, they dealt with it very well - they have a counsellor at the school and they run "Friendship" groups. They put him, the boy who was bullying him, and several other children in a group which discussed what being a good friend is, etc, and it solved the problem because I think this boy got to know and understand DS better. He was also able to meet with a TA whenever he felt he needed a chat.

Emphasise to the school how your DD feels, and be open to listening to their insights - although sometimes this sort of thing goes under the radar because it's playground stuff. Their reaction will tell you whether they are going to be helpful or not.

I also did a big self-esteem drive at home - invited back any children he trusted and were always nice to him- avoided some of who would sometimes join in with teasing, even though they were his friends Made sure saw any friends from outside school more. Went easy on criticism and big on praise. I even socially-engineered a friendship with someone who has the same hobby as him (friend of a friend)

JamieLeeCurtis Mon 06-Dec-10 18:14:51

I'd also second clubs or activities outside school.

I feel for you. It's a horrible thing to see your child in distress. But I think you'll feel much better when you act

ejunder Mon 06-Dec-10 21:04:29

Thanks so much for all the hugely sensible ideas. Will check out the book - title resonates! Have heard from her tonight that she'd been told she has to 'have a boyfriend' (age 9) if she wants to play with them and is being teased that she 'likes' a certain boy which she is finding extremely distressing so clearly there are big issues here. I'm just wondering what else is bubbling away that she hasn't yet shared with me. And yes, I will feel better if I act! Much appreciated input - thanks again.

JamieLeeCurtis Mon 06-Dec-10 22:59:53

Oh dear. Al this crap is happening with a few of the girls in my DSs class. Plenty are not like this though.....

JamieLeeCurtis Thu 09-Dec-10 15:08:15

How's it going, ejunder?

ejunder Fri 10-Dec-10 10:41:37

She is focusing on another girl who is a sweetie and is telling me everything is ok but this morning she had 'tummy ache' and head against the radiator (why do they think we can't tell the difference!) in attempt to convince me she needed to stay at home. She's also been going to the school office with same tummy ache during the day so she's clearly not feeling comfortable. Tummy ache disappears as quickly as it arrives so I am sure it's not a real thing in the purely physical sense. Can tell DD is worried though - every time I ask her how things are she gets a terror stricken look in her eyes and goes to great lengths to reassure me she's fine. I think she's terrified that I'm going to embarass her, make it all worse etc. She's a very socially conscious child if you know what I mean - thinks the world is watching her every move. It's such a tricky balance - I don't want her to not tell me what's going on but equally I can't not act. I've been away with work the last three nights - was back late last night so haven't gone into the school yet. I was planning to do so on Monday. I'm considering talking to the teacher without disclosing to DD that I'm doing this - do you think thats a bad idea?

wannabeglam Fri 10-Dec-10 13:06:09

I think you have to teach her that she has to choose friends carefully and that girls who behave like this are not the type of girls she should be friends with. They are nasty. This is a lesson that will help her through her life.

Arrange some play dates with some of the other girls.

I agree that you need to have a discreet word with the teacher. This behaviour is bullying and is discriminatory. The school must deal with it. In our school, till we got a new head, we had years where loads of girls left because the school didn't sort out bullying - usually there's one ringleader. It wasn't the ringleader who left!

JamieLeeCurtis Fri 10-Dec-10 15:12:21

I think that children fear the worst when it comes to disclosing to the teacher. But I think that comes from their sense, at their age that problems feel huge and insurmountable. I think it's good for them to learn that you can take action and it will (hopefully!) help. I think they can feel very responsible for what's going on and actually it can be good to take the burden of dealing with it from them.

Speaking personally, DS never had a problem with me taking these issues to the school. I think that might have been because I witnessed some of the incidents when I was on a school trip with the class, so there was never any doubt at that point that was bullying and it was wrong (actually I got quite angry). I think that happening helped him because I was so unequivocal in my response.

Remember these are not hardened teens we are talking about, and you are an adult. I really hope the school is sympathetic.

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