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12 yr old daughter is lonely and isolated

(32 Posts)
princesscasino Thu 16-Jun-11 11:01:46

I wonder if anyone out there has a similar situation to mine, as I don't understand it and don't know what to do. My 12 yr old DD (only child) has been to two primaries, both good ones, and is now in secondary school. She had 1 friend in the first school, but said all the other girls would always refuse to let her join in games. In the end she the school tried to help, but it didn't make much difference.
The next primary, everyone seemed interested in her at the start but sadly the same thing happened again, and birthday parties, outings, visits to friends - she didnt get invited. She was often alone in the playground and got taunted a bit. Other girls seemed v nice but didnt want her in their groups. I spoke to the school about it in Yr 6 as she was so lonely, and then some of the girls tried to include her (but I'm sure because they were specifically asked to).
On to secondary school, and it's the same. She is a nice kid, kind hearted, a bit quiet and not good in crowds. Her self confidence was better when younger, as now she believes she is unlikeable. She also says she is ugly and fat, although she is slim and pretty. She has always found schoolwork difficult and believes that other kids think she is stupid - she is also a bit of a daydreamer.
She refuses to join anything outside school. She has zero confidence and in the last year has become really frightened of lots of things, more acutely self conscious, and a bit paranoid. She says other girls at school make faces when she talks as if to say 'she's really weird' .
She isnt experiencing the things other girls are, like normal socialising, going round each others houses, trips to shops and cinemas, that sort of thing. All she has really is her home life and going to school.
I just wonder when it is going to get better. She wakes up unhappy, not a smiley happy girl like she could be. It all doesnt make sense, and no one is able to tell me why this happens, and keeps happening - the schools don't know - my daughter doesn't know - does this ever get better? I wish I could help her but nothing I have done seems to work. Any advice would be great please!

Jaspants Thu 16-Jun-11 11:06:37

Oh your poor DD.

Have you seen the problem first hand yourself? Have you inivited girls round to play and seen how they interact? That may help give you a clue as to whether it is shyness, differing interests etc.

How about clubs / groups that she is interested in? Both mine have made good solid friendships through Rainbows / swimming / scouts etc.

crazynanna Thu 16-Jun-11 11:20:13

Princess my girl is going through similar.
She is the quiet small one of her group (13 years),no puberty,where all have periods,boobs,into boys,etc,but my dd isn't quite there yet,but she seemed to cope within the group.
Yesterday,the Queen Bee decided she's not talking to dd,so none of the group are..(I really can't remember it being like that).
She has gone in this morning a nervous wreck knowing she will be whispered about all day and on her own.She txt me from the bus saying she felt sick and dizzy,but she was not going to come home sad
I know she has to do it...I know it's part of growing up. But it's hard.
My heart goes out to your girl.

princesscasino Thu 16-Jun-11 11:23:26

Hi Jaspants, I think it's shyness but it's hard to say. In crowds she doesn't engage with others - I've noticed this myself. She isn't pushy or loud or self confident. She had a party and we managed to get a couple of girls to come, and I didn't notice her being shy with them in her own home. But back at school, she was on her own again.
I know that the majority of girls in her age group are really into watching EastEnders but my DD hates it and says its depressing! Her interests are quiet ones, although she is quite athletic. But she won't join anything, and to be honest if she did she probably wouldn't start talking to anyone, because she's always been on the shy side and now it's worse because she thinks people just don't like her cos she's 'weird'. Or so she says.
It's funny but I just assumed that sooner or later it would sort itself out, that there must be other girls like her, shy ones, and she'd hook up with one of them, someone a bit like her. But it hasn't happened - all the girls at her schools seem so confident and sure of themselves.

princesscasino Thu 16-Jun-11 12:04:02

Hi Crazynanna, that's really tough on your daughter. I actually don't really get why some girls are so bitchy , of course I'm well aware it goes on but having never felt the urge to make someone else's life a misery - I don't understand it. As you say, we don't remember it being like that when we were younger although it's probably always gone on.
It seems to me also that at 12 a lot of girls today are really growing up fast, being independent, getting boyfriends and so on. My DD is not interested in any of this, only music really, and is quite young for her age as well as being shy. Your DD sounds similar...
I hope this unpleasantness passes quickly. It seems that around this age, if there's anything about you that doesn't quite fit in, other girls can be ruthless - like 'lord of the flies' - but with girls instead of boys.

blimppy Thu 16-Jun-11 20:15:55

My DD sounds similar to your's OP. She's in Year 7 and is also very quiet and shy and, while on friendly terms with a number of girls, seems unable to turn that into proper friendships. She too sees none of them outside school. Like you, I am at a loss as to what to do and suspect that there may be nothing I can do except hope it improves as she matures. She does however do some activities outside school, which I think helps at least to maintain her self confidence a bit. If you can persuade your DD to take up a hobby like dancing or sport outside school it may help her feel a bit better about herself. I do hope things improve for her soon - I really feel for both her and you!

LovelyDaffs Thu 16-Jun-11 20:24:02

Theres a book called The unwritten rules of friendship simple strategies to help your child that's worth reading and putting some of the strategies into practise.

FaultLines Fri 17-Jun-11 16:11:26

This is really hard - girls can be so tough with one another - and once one begins to get left out it affects her self-esteem, often making the problem worse.

I feel so sorry for your DD, Princesscasino, especially as I see my 10year old dd going the same way. She has been part of a wide group until recently, but they now seem to have developed into clicky sub-groups that she is not part of. She still has one good friend, which is great, but the rest exclude her. They aren't openly mean, but they'll all come out of class together asking if they can go home together to Mums and my DD is in the middle of it, with no-one asking her. I can see it's starting to affect her self-esteem: it's horrible to be so excluded. On a one-to-one, she is still fine with any of them - but these now only happen at our house, as she doesn't get invited back to theirs. I feel so sad for her when I pick her up from school and I can see they are all uninterested in her. Tonight a bunch of her 'friends' came out together with her from class - and all ran over to their mums (who I was with) to see if they could go to the cinema together - dd was left next to them unasked. I was gob-smacked that the other mums said nothing about including her - she was so obviously left out.

What to do ?

Hullygully Fri 17-Jun-11 16:13:33

kill them all now. bastards.

crazynanna Fri 17-Jun-11 23:26:14

Hully In a parallel universe,in a different world,I would get them in a phonebox and kick the shit out of them grin
Shame I have morals.

princesscasino Fri 17-Jun-11 23:38:50

Blimppy, & FaultLines - it seems my daughter isn't the only one suffering out there, it just feels that way sometimes. What you both describe sounds very very similar to what we are going though. Faultlines I think the part where you say about the girls all wanting to go to the cinema and asking right in front of you and your daughter - that makes me angry to read cos it's just so callous and horrible. The word 'uninterested' is exactly the one i would use too, its like no one is interested in knowing or being with my daughter. If other girls seem to put zero value on you, don't you inevitably start to question your value yourself?
Children (& adults too) are told to"" believe in themselves" (as every Disney movie always tells us!) but how do they do it when their friends and peers all ignore or exclude them? How does anyone manage to retain a sense of self esteem with that going on?
I really feel for your daughter, it's not nice. My daughter had the same thing done under her nose, at primary, with her closest friend going off with another group of girls to each others houses several times a week, and she was never asked. It was again done right in front of her, with lots of excitement about what a great time they were all going to have. Hullygully - you are right, they are!
I tell my daughter that she is a really nice kind person and there is nothing wrong with her. She thinks about others feelings, which is a darn sight more than her peers at school do - but I think that's the right way to be, treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.
Incidentally why is it that the bitchy / loud / pushy/ bossy etc girls seem to have no problem with having friends?!!!

princesscasino Fri 17-Jun-11 23:45:27

LovelyDaffs, thanks for the book recommendation, i will check it out.

princesscasino Fri 17-Jun-11 23:48:22

And its good to know im not the only one who has dark 'parallel universe' thoughts as well...

Morpho Sun 26-Jun-11 23:25:35

We have a similar situation with our 12 yr old daughter- we've just seen a message on facebook from her group of 'friends', saying they don't want her in their group anymore. She's shy, not gossipy, hates Eastenders and maybe finds it hard to fit in. we don't know if she upsets them in some way as she also seemed to lose some friends in year 6. We are finding it very distressing and don't know where it's going wrong...

threefeethighandrising Mon 27-Jun-11 21:40:09

My sister had the same problem at school. She was very shy anyway, but also just didn't fit in with the girls at school. To put it very bluntly they were mainly little cows, and she simply wasn't!

Or to be a tad more reflective, she was into different things to them. She was thoughtful, liked music they didn't understand (Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley etc). They liked the latest pop tunes, bitching about people and stealing clothes. She was an outsider and it really wasn't fun for her.

As an adult, she has bags of confidence, lots of great friends and an interesting life. The turning point for her I think was largely joining a sports club outside of school. She's really sporty anyway. The sports club included teenagers and adults, and she made some friends there she still knows to this day. I think being part of something really helped, also doing something she was good at, but also hanging around with people with a more mature attitude was undoubtably a relief.

It must be hard if she doesn't want to do anything outside of school, but I feel this could be the ket, but you can't push her into it of course!

Is there anyone outside school she can hang out with? Siblings? Cousins etc?

threefeethighandrising Mon 27-Jun-11 21:43:26

"we don't remember it being like that when we were younger although it's probably always gone on."

It was like this in my primary school. There was a queen bee and she decided who was included and who wasn't. She was manipulative and downright bitchy. But lots of fun, which is how she got away with it.

I remember adults really didn't understand how bad it was if you tried to explain it to them.

Luckily I went to a different secondary school to her, but I imagine her classmates in secondary school got similar treatment.

CeliaFate Tue 28-Jun-11 10:10:00

I know you say she won't join anything outside school, but try and encourage her to join a drama group. My dd was low in confidence and self esteem and she joined a drama club. It totally brought her out of herself, made her see that she was valued and had something to offer. The club is very inclusive and strives to ensure the children are all made welcome. It's worth seeing if she'll give it a go, even if you offer to help out backstage for a few weeks to help her settle in.

ZZZenAgain Tue 28-Jun-11 10:14:08

I have a feeling that someone picked on her in primary school nr 1 and this then became a group thing so she fell into the victim role. When she started the second school, she was initially welcomed by the other dc so it is not something inherent that keeps her apart but perhaps she was then already used to being left out and fell back into the old behaviour patterns - maybe withdrawing to avoid being told she cannot join in?

I would try to see a child psychologist - not because I think there is anything the least wrong with your dd but I think she (and you) need help to sort this out now and it does need to be addressed IMO

ZZZenAgain Tue 28-Jun-11 10:16:55

I am sorry she is waking up unhappy at 12 but if her whole life is going to school and being left out, coming home where she will dwell on it and then getting up the next day knowing what lies ahead, it is a bit grim, isn't it?

bigTillyMint Tue 28-Jun-11 10:26:10

I agree with ZZZen. It seems that your DD needs help to do things differently as what she is doing now isn't working. Get a CAMHs referral and get her some help.

straightoutofthebottomdrawer Tue 28-Jun-11 11:06:04

I think you need to work hard at fixing this, don't just leave it and hope it will get better.

If it's not fixed, unless she's very resiliant she could end up miserable and depressed and struggling for many years past school. That feeling that other people think you're weird can be insidious and dangerous - it may have some truth now if she's being excluded by unkind girls, but in years to come it could be something she's hypersensitive to even when it's not really happening, which would be a huge obstacle to her being relaxed and sociable.

Going through school with no friends could be OK if she has the attitude that she's there to do her learning only and the fun is either in that learning, or outside of school - with you, joining in some outside interests and so on. But if she's going in feeling miserable because she's not part of any group then every day she stays isolated will make her feel like more of a failure.

So the solution could either be her finding some friends or her putting school in a mental box and having so much fun outside of it that what happens there just becomes less significant. A bit of both would be ideal I suppose. In the long term it doesn't matter whether she makes friends with any of the people she happens to be at school with, but her being unhappy and feeling like she's failing, unliked and weird every day will have a long-term effect.

Definitely get that book about the unwritten rules, and the specialist help. I would also focus on fun outside of school with you, encourage her to explore her own interests even if they're not particularly sociable ones - if she has anything that she feels competent and interested in and that doesn't depend on social approval, that will also help with her confidence and self-esteem.

Whatever you do, please don't leave it and just hope it gets better.

princesscasino Wed 29-Jun-11 23:31:10

i think I will get a referral to CAMHS and try to get to the bottom of it. Her self worth is very low. It used to be better!I will also try the book. She does absent herself voluntarily from stuff, and is highly sensitive to criticism or any kind of embarrassment. To a really extreme degree. So I think this gets in the way of her just laughing at herself, or others, and joining in. Somehow I have to make things better. To all the mothers of children out there whose kids have friends and who are really well socialised, can I just say you are really really lucky that your children are happy in this way, because its awful if your child is lonely and always on the outside and it affects everyone else too in the family. I did back off for a while and think she will find her own way, I must stop fussing and worrying, but now I think I should be more proactive.

threefeethighandrising Thu 30-Jun-11 00:40:32

FWIW I think you're doing the right thing by trying to do something about it, your DD is lucky to have you for her mum smile

My mother chose to let my sister sort it out for herself and I know she feels our mum could have tried a bit harder to help her.

startail Thu 30-Jun-11 01:09:18

Nothing useful to add except a huge hug.
DD1 is hopeless at the whole friends bit, DH and I aren't brilliant, DD2 is. I'm extremely envy. She just seems to find other people interesting and so remembers names and gossip and wants to fit in and instinctively does.
She wouldn't do something without considering is it cool, who else is doing it etc. No one else in the family would factor in the social aspect of everything in this way.
The only advice I can offer is try and find your DD a structured planned activity like Guides, dram or a sport she likes at a club with no one from school.

bigTillyMint Thu 30-Jun-11 07:27:59

Princess, well done for deciding to do something about it. smile

Presuming that she does want to be accepted and fit in.... she needs to learn strategies for how to do this, and then join new groups outside of school and practice them.

Good Luck, the only way is up smile

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