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Sensitive 8 year old behaviour.

(4 Posts)
Sixtiesqueen Thu 06-Feb-14 00:22:05

DD is 8 years old, she will be 9 in the summer. She's young for her year group (Y4) though is pretty much the tallest in her class and doing well academically. Throughout primary school I have seen the same pattern of flying academically but being slightly behind the older girls (September birthdays) in terms of social/emotional stuff.

All of her best friends are sept/oct birthdays.

Apart from this, I think she has inherited DH's sensitive nature, lack of confidence etc - he's one of those people who gets really stressed out that he will fail exams and then comes out with top marks and has actually been very successful in his career.

Since before Christmas I've noticed a change in DD, which I would describe as being a bit downcast. She's an avid reader but hasn't really taken to the last few books I've bought for her. Left to her own devices she would gravitate permanently to the iPad to watch Tracey Beaker or play minecraft (the creative mode). We discourage this and limit her screen time.

She does some after school activities but appears to enjoy them all and won't give them up. She has activities two nights a week. She also attends a drama workshop at the weekend for 2 hours which we joined to increase her self confidence. She's been attending for 2.5 years and has made friends there. I would prefer not to have weekend activities but she insists she doesn't want to give it up.

Recently we've had a few problems within her school friendship group with one particular girl. The same girl is getting a reputation as a bit of a bully in the class - I don't think she is bullying DD but I think DD doesn't want to play with this girl any more and describes her 'following me like a sheep.' They have a mutual friend who is trying not to take sides, though I think DD would like her to take sides, as you can imagine.

After Christmas we had a fortnight of 'stomach aches' and 'headaches' which turned into her apparently being sick in the toilets at school on several occasions (none witnessed) and I was called home from work. Eventually the teacher stopped believing her and that seems to have died down. I had the sense she enjoyed the attention from her friends. In addition she has been more attached than usual to her favourite cuddly toy and has been putting on a baby voice at times.

I can't really think what's wrong. We are a happy and stable family with two kids. I work p/t locally and the children don't attend any childcare or after school clubs. They are never alone with any adult other than myself and DH and I have no concerns of abuse (I'm not naive, I actually work in safeguarding!). There have been no deaths, no changes in routine. There is no stress financially, no disharmony, nothing I can pinpoint.

We offer heaps of praise, we don't raise our voices. We have child-orientated holidays, trips to the theatre, they have a pet, a large garden to run about in, a great range of toys, we are very sociable and our house often has people dropping in for a cup of tea. I truly think they have a great childhood. i have asked her outright and she denies any real issues, though when pushed did complain about the problematic friendship, which we have talked about at length.

My thoughts are

(1) she is acting up for attention - why does she need more attention?
(2) acting like a baby may be a sign of needing to be comforted (about what?)
(3) perhaps she's in a funny place between mid and late childhood?
(4) perhaps she needs to move on, have more freedom?
(5) perhaps she IS being bullied and won't tell me (I've even bought her a book about it, which she enjoyed but still didn't identify herself as being bullied)
(6) perhaps she fears failure/ heaps stress on herself
(7) perhaps people expect more of her because she is tall/bright
(8) perhaps we expect too much?
(9) maybe it's just her character

Anyone got any perspective/experience to bring to this? DH thinks I worry too much but I can see all of these problems and I want to know we are doing the right thing.

Pitmountainpony Thu 06-Feb-14 03:17:11

Did not like to see no replies but I really recommend the book...the highly sensitive child by Elaine son is 4 but is very sensitive and it has helped with us understanding some of his behaviors so that we can help him more now....gawd knows what school will be like as heis already known at pre school for crying a lot....anyway could be worth reading it...prob in at the library. But I think just try and connect as much as you can and empathise about stuff with her.

wishingchair Thu 06-Feb-14 20:26:27

I have 2 DDs ... one 11 and pretty sensitive like you described. We moved when she was 8 and she had a substantial amount of family upset at the time but actually it was the school/work/friend stuff that got her down. She still stresses unbelievably about things. We had tears the other night because she wouldn't be able to sit at lunch with her 2 best friends the next day.

My younger daughter (7) is in a friendship situation like yours. A very manipulative friend that will "tell" if DD2 doesn't do what she wants. Gives her gifts then asks for them back. DD2 doesn't see it as bullying. I do and I talked to the teacher to get them separated in class. Doesn't work on the playground though.

I don't have any real advice ... it's hard as if this is their nature (I think it is), then you know life is going to be hard until they increase their resilience. I look at the positive sides of the sensitivity though ... it is what makes them fun, caring, conscientious etc.

(And DD1 read pretty much every Jacqueline Wilson book back to back ... I noticed a real difference in her. When she moved onto something else she was like a different child!!)

Sixtiesqueen Fri 07-Feb-14 11:11:19

Thanks to you both for your replies and suggestions.

It's really hard isn't it? I feel a huge knot in my stomach on her behalf today because she had a fall out with this girl again yesterday. Last night she made a "worry box" and wrote about this girl all over it. There's a very timid girl in the class who seems to be recruited to spread gossip and sing nasty songs. I'm convinced its not in that child's nature at all, and lo and behold, my DD actually drew the timid child on the box looking really worried about the 'bully.'

Can I ask, when your kids feel like this and worry about school, how do you cope with it yourself? Do you tell yourself it's their nature? I sort of need to support myself as well as supporting her.

I was looking up the definition of 'bullying' versus 'meanness' and I think most of the stuff falls into the latter category but despite this, I can't help noting the changes in my own child and thinking I ought to raise it with the school.

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