My daughters in need of advice and i just dont know what to say.(22 Posts)
My daughter is breaking my heart she is so desperate to be liked at school but only manages to be on the outskirts of friendship circles. Today a person she thought was her friend didnt invite her to her party whilst inviting many others. Then another friend arranged and outing down town with a small group my daughter sits with every break but she not invited, they also have sleepovers she not invited too. In any group work she is left out. She asks me why dont they want me, why dont they like me. I was not a popular kid at school and its bring back horrible feelings and i honest have no advice on how to be popular. The difference is i was shy and my dd is a chatterbox but each year im watching her lose confidence at senior school, its soul destroying. I tell her she amazing as she is but i can see it falls short. How can I help her and what should i be saying?????
Maybe it should be more about being a good friend rather than being popular? Talk to her about what makes someone a good friend. Point out that if she looks around she will probably find other kids who are also not part of groups, and she can try to befriend them. Ask for her teacher's input on what might be the problem. Does she belong to any groups or clubs outside of school where she can make friends?
Is she so busy trying to be "popular" and in a big crowd that she's not noticing other people who might prove to be genuine friends? Are these "friends" all part of the same circle? Are there other girls who she would actually have more in common with? People that have a shared interest, who might be a bit under her radar, because they are also not "popular".
I would be wanting to talk to her form tutor, or whoever the pastoral person is. She should absolutely not be being left out of group work - the teachers in charge should not be letting that happen. Being excluded from a group is a form of bullying - is the school aware?
I also have a daughter who has felt excluded from the in-crowd, but has decided that being "popular" involves a lot of hard work and she'd be better off with a smaller group of chilled-out friends. Thankfully she seems to have found some.
Definitely contact her school. No child should feel unhappy at school and schools tend to have a good support network in place. Good luck ☺
How old? My youngest was like this in years 7&8 though managed to not be unhappy about it because she genuinely couldn't be fussed with the bitchy stuff that went on.
She's now year 11 and very happy with her friendships - she's got a few same year friends but actually the ones she gets invited over too are the year above. I think she still feels her peers are immature maybe?
I agree, definitely call the school, there is so much in place now at the schools to make sure that the children WANT to go to school and I'm afraid although the title bullying doesn't mean what it used to, by being cut out of groups its sort of like that.
In my day we just got on with things and toughened up but if the school has the resources through counsellor/chaplain's and a good form tutor then why not call them and ask them to help her settle in better.
I had to do this last week, if she feels the slightest bit unwell then I sympathise but she still has to go to school, they have to know not going is not an option but that you will help her sort out whatever is the problem at school.
Ask her if she wants you to call the school, she may not want you to my dd didn't but I did it anyway as she won't know I did but it is up to the parent to at least help her and build a good working relationship with the school. The school will like that you are interested in your daughters schooling and happiness, some parents aren't you see.
I just had a chat with my son about friendships last week, as he was complaining he was not popular, or in the "in crowd".
I told him to look outside the "popular" group, as it was not about being in a certain group, but finding like-minded people to get along with and build friendships with. This meant trying to look for others like him, rather than hanging on the outskirts of other groups. I was never popular, I had no interest in the popular kids. I had my own group of
semi nerdy friends and we kept to ourselves. I was happy in that space, and I told my son he too could be happy finding his own circle outside the popularity contests.
It is hard being a preteen/teen.
Yes to the genuine friendships thing. That's good advice which will serve her well. Trying to be accepted into the popular crowd isn't so good because it's not only fickle, but to be at the top usually ends up putting down some poor sod who's now below you.
Can you get her involved in any groups outside of school? A sport or drama/music group, anything at all just to give her another circle to socialise in. It can be so bitchy at school and TBH I don't think speaking to the school will help, because it's not that they're doing it to be mean it's just the way that it is.
Does she "fit in" visually? Have the right clothes etc? I know that kids are cruel and will find something to pick on regardless, and you shouldn't bankrupt yourself or force her into something she isn't comfortable in but it helps if they don't stick out like a sore thumb. If she is not socially aware enough to know what's what do you have any friends with DC around her age you could call on?
Can I just disagree with bertiebotts in a gentle way please?
" does she fit in visually" ARGH! Suggesting she change to fit in is IMHO very wrong. It is not a problem to say "OK you can have a superdry hoody when you need a new one if you want it" but not " have a superdry hoody so you can fit in" . The latter is not so very far off suggesting she changes her self inside, her values and personality in order to fit in and be liked.
My DD could have fitted in if she wanted to joint the bitchy brigade but quite rightly she didn't.
That's fine, you're entitled to your opinion I assume I'm going to get far more flamed for that suggestion anyway.
I totally agree sending the message that you have to look a certain way to fit in is wrong, but from my own experience at secondary school the jibes were so much nastier when you have obvious second hand clothes, non brands, something which was fashionable in 1972, just the shape of things which aren't "right" etc. I knew we didn't have much money and I never ever pushed for brands but when I on occasion got hold of something I was aware was "cool" I clung to it like glue, which probably didn't help because it looked like I only had one set of clothes on non uniform days etc.
Kids who are already cool can get away with looking different, having cheaper/older clothes, looking artistic and funky etc but the ones who are already a target/excluded from things can't.
I'm not saying she should change herself but sometimes blending in with the crowd makes you less remarkable, less of a target, easier to find that smaller group on the sidelines. It's absolutely not the same as being an adult where you can of course explore the kinds of clothes that you like. I think in secondary school you're just setting yourself up with a big red light if you don't do that exploration roughly within a group of "socially acceptable" clothes. And they wear uniform most of the time anyway, it's not going to curtail her individuality that much to wear those trousers instead of these, that brand of shoes/bag instead of this.
It totally sucks and it's a sucky message to give but I wish someone had taught me how to look at what others are wearing and adopt the uniform a bit so to speak. I dress how I want now, but my time at secondary school was utter hell being excluded by everyone, I had three not-friends who were in the same boat, but we had nothing else in common and I don't see any of them any more. Even DH and a friend I have now who went to the same school (but avoided me at school) say "You were weird at school." And that's the thing - if she's labelled as "the weird girl" then nobody, even the nice normal genuine people who don't care about the popular crowd will want to hang around with her lest they become the subject.
Dd has autism and I "get" what Bertie is saying. Dd has no interest in clothes, hair, make up etc but I scrutinise what her peers are wearing, what bag they carry purely because if she fits in then her differences are less likely to be picked upon by the more critical.
For instance it's mufti day on Friday, dd would go in her uniform because as far as she is concerned uniform is for school but I will ensure she wears the clothes that her peers will be wearing because to do otherwise will mark her out as odd/weird.
It shouldn't have to be like this and I think when dc are older then different styles etc are embraced (dd1 was always an "individual") but early in secondary it helps not to stand out.
Bertie I am absolutely with what you are saying. It's a sad fact of life at secondary school, but it's been like it for years and will continue to be like it.
I've nothing really to add to your post as you have explained it so well - I'm just in total agreement with you.
Stop trying to be friends with the popular group.
Instead, cultivate friendships with those who are kind, and with whom you can be yourself without having to try hard.
Do you socialise in a group? I know it can be perceived at school to be the only way to socialise, however. As an adult I'm so far out my comfort zone with a group of women. I have three seperate very very good friends and love spending time with them. I'm sure this is the way with many adults.
How about getting to find one friend she can relate to and her circle may widen through them, it may not but she should try and focus on a quality friend. Not quantity.
Is she aware to ask questions about people and seem interested.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Ah bless your DD. I dont post much but am venturing on during my lunch break because I have been where your DD is and my heart goes out to her.
I was in a tough girl driven bullying situation for most of my primary years. It was very hard a various points: times when no girl in my class would touch me (if they were forced to be my partner to walk in pairs they'd pull the sleeve of their jumper down over their hand to avoid this) and then later, several years of a circle of girls waiting for me in the playground everyday to take me apart (mentally not physically) before school. This was before the years of bullying policies etc, and it was very subtle - anytime i saught teacher help it backfired, so i learned not to do that.
Know this: I not only survived it, there is no doubt in my mind it has played a part in the person i am today (mid thirties, very happy life, husband, family, lots of lovely friends, great career).
Here are some thoughts on what I would say / do if this comes up for my DD (she's too little at the moment):
1. Repeat, show, repeat, show that there is nothing wrong with her and how much you love her. Her home and her family are her haven as she gets through this. That will help, in the end.
2. Talk over with her how stuff like this is part of life. It is something more or less everybody has to deal with at somepoint, very often at school, or at work. It can be very hard, and horrible to live through. however learning to cope with it (both making changes and just surviving it / riding it out) is a very useful life skill.
I've never had similar problems as an adult, though i have been in various adult situations where these things have been around - it is part of human behaviour - I am sure that my experience helped me to navigate those situations.
3. Encourage her to become a bit more analytical about what is going on. Who is inviting who, where? What might be the reasons behind it? Especially for girls, all this stuff are proxy power battles in my opinion. Some learn early that there is 'fun' in playing people off against each other, hinting at an invite then inviting someone else, leaving someone out.
Encourage her to consider who she really likes too (as opposed to liking how she feels, or imagines she would feel, if they invited her). Also, consider: what is / might be going on for those girls that really seem popular / powerful?
More often than not, their behaviour is driven by insecurity; they get a kick out of manipulating the girls around them. Certainly this was true of the perpetrator in my situation although i only really see that looking backwards.
4. Use some material to develop this skill - TV shows to watch and discuss together. Gossip Girl could be good for this - it has a recurring dynamic of a Queen Bee figure and the girls that orbit around her. Over the series, they show how there's always a Queen Bee, and if one grows up / moves on/ stops being so bitchy; another comes along to take her place. Much truth in this in my opinion. It might be a bit 'old' in terms of other stuff in it (sex, drugs) though all that stuff will be coming down the track too soon! (also might give her a bit of kudos to be allowed to watch something a bit 'old' for her). Likewise American Pie has plot lines about how rumours are started and spread around secondary/ high school. The recent documentary Educating the East end also followed some friendship dynamics that were pretty clear.
5. Likewise encourage her to stand back and observe, analyse the many ways, being, or becoming a teenager is about become part of a 'pack' (of teenagers) and starting to separate from your family. Talk over this dynamic. How it manifests in choices around material things, and taste in music, tv, etc. Conforming so that you can be part of the 'pack' is part of understanding and playing the game. How does it operate in her school? Who starts trends? How? How do they behave when others do or don't pick up on it?
For me a massive breakthrough moment was, aged about 8 or 9, pursuading my mum to allow me to wear a different pair of shoes to school. I had sensible round toed school shoes, there was a craze for girls in my class to wear 'party' shoes with sparkles and a little heel to school (hey, it was the 80s). My mum wouldn't le me wear them, but we compromised on a different pair that were a bit more party, and like a pair another in the cool girl pack had. I went in to school all pleased. The girl bullying me whipped up her entourage to laugh hysterically at the copying of this other girl. In that moment of humiliation I had a massive epiphany: It wasn't the shoes. Hell, it wasn't me. It didn't matter what I did or didn't wear or changed, she would find reasons to tease me, laugh at me, exclude me, try and make me feel bad. No, it wasn't me, IT WAS HER!
Big turning point for me. In truth it didnt kill off my problems immediately, once you are locked in a dynamic with a certain set of people it is harder to change it than start over somewhere new, and this girl well knew which buttons to press to make me loose again. but things did get a lot better from there, and I promise you this early insight has never left me. I genuinely do not care what the average person thinks. Friends, family, people i have chosen to be an importatn part of my life, sure. But the rest: any opinions or teasing, it just rolls off me. And hence i have never been on the wrong side of a bullying situation since.
Having said all that, i agree with other posters about hte importance of conforming, somewhat, at school, blending in can be a smart tactical move, and doing that knowingly is a useful life skill.
6. Encourage her to do some activites with groups out of school. This was also really helpful for me. I did lots of other stuff, regular clubs etc. it was a small town so my bullier was in a lot of those same clubs with me. But there, for whatever reason, the dynamic was different, and I was happier / more popular, and got a lot less of her stick - she needed her entourage of school friends to make her powerful.
7. Overall, reassure her that whatever happens this will pass and things will get better. In adult life friendship circles are more fluid, being 'popular' much less of a thing. One of ther hardest things about been a child / teenager is navigating this stuff!
Finally, OP I wonder if it might be a good idea for you to step back and reflect on what this is triggering for you? If it is bringing back memories for you, it is hard for you to support your daugther, rather than re live your own tough times. Can you discuss this with her, and agree that you will both work on finding answers that are right for each of you. (and the answer might be about loving and accepting yourself for who you are; choosing the right friends for you; gaining confidence and becoming more 'popular', or a combination of all of these things.
Good luck to you both xx
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Yes I still know of the bullier too. My brother saw her at a wedding a couple of years ago and said 'she looked like shes's had a hard life'.
Whereas for me things are great. So in that instance karma was operating good and well. Although as an adult, I feel sorry for her, things were tough at home then and by the sounds of it haven't got much better since. Not that that excuses the behaviour, but still.
Also on the other activities thing, what it confirmed to me was that it wasn't me or that there was anything wrong with me, just something about the dynamic at school.
If the OPs Dd has other groups outside of school where things are better I would really highlight this, to remind her there's nothing 'wrong' with her.
However, if she doesn't do much of that stuff at the moment, I'd work with her in building her confidence first, and only when you are sure she's feeling stringer start looking with her for some outside of school things to do/ join. And then when she did I'd support and monitor carefully until I was sure she was happily established.
If something happens in two places, it is possible to start thinking 'it is me' and when you're feeling vulnerable you do tend to give off that vibe, which could attract another 'mean girl'.
Even these days I'm careful to avoid 'mean girls' when I'm feeling vulnerable. I managed to find a reason not to go to a social event recently where I know I would have got a show off / lecture from someone about sleep training and their perfect sleeping child at a point when DDs sleep wasn't good. Figured I didn't need to hear it!
Getting better at protecting yourself is a big plus of getting older, I find.
One thing I wish I had understood at school was that the popular girls weren't actually that popular. Underneath it all they were pretty much hated because their attitude generally stinks.
The real friendships were the ones that grew quietly away from all the, look at me aren't I amazing, aren't I unique, don't you all think I'm amazing crap.
Didn't we all hate those girls who thought they were something special and loved by everyone?
How you can get a young girl to understand that I don't know because when you are in the middle of it, it is all consuming.
I would encourage other friendships if possible, is there someone else she talks about who she can invite for a sleepover or day out etc. Give her a bit of control of her friendships, maybe a girl in a similar position to her.
If my opinion means anything on the subject I would never, ever ask someone to change the way they look just to try and fit in with the perceived 'cool look' of the time. It is just encouraging everything that is wrong with the world and sends an appalling message to young women already fighting to carve out their own identity.
I agree that she should stop trying to fit in with the popular group and make her own friends with others on the "fringe" instead.
One thing that sticks out a bit - you said she's a chatterbox - does she talk too much? I knew a girl at my first place of work who was just out of university and she pretty much never shut up - it was quite grating! Whenever some of us were having a conversation and she came and joined in, it would tend to stop the group conversation dead because she would talk and talk and talk to the point that no one else could get a word in. Your DD might not be that bad, but it might benefit her to learn to listen more and talk less if she is anything like that.
Re. clothes to fit in - that is a tough one, yes. When I was a younger teen I wanted to be able to fit in, but my parents didn't have much money and no idea about modern clothes; this was daunting. When we went into sixth form, the school removed uniform for us (ARGH!) and I decided at that point that I wouldn't even attempt to compete with the fashionistas, and mostly just wore tracksuits and sweatshirts (I was in a sport club so it wasn't completely out of place!)
I also think that your DD should find something to do out of school. Also, does she have any friends from her primary school that don't go to her senior school? That really helped me, as my primary school best friend had been one of the popular girls but she wasn't at my senior school. I saw her out of school a fair bit, so the school friendships weren't such a big deal.
Try working through this book with her
It is really useful and gives concrete advice and things to practice at home that help you make friends
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