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dd (9) unhappy in new, small school. says she hates being "quiet and clever". any advice?

(18 Posts)
hatwoman Mon 01-Jun-09 23:06:25

I'm really worried about her. she doesn;t cry easily and has done so a few times. the school is very small - just 5 girls (including her) in her year. she says they are all into talking about make-up and clothes - which aren;t her thing. she says she hates being quiet, and hates being clever. she desperately misses her best friend from her old school (200 miles away). she can be difficult at times - lacks empathy and thinks everything that goes wrong in her life is someone else's fault (usually her 7 year old sister's. or mine or dh's). finds it hard to take control of her own life, iyswim. kind of lacks confidence - but sometimes comes across as a big head. I've no idea, of course, what she's like with her peers - I suspect just very very quiet. dh and I try really hard to support her and advise her - but I'm thinking it's not enough. I really do think she's pretty deeply unhappy and I don;t know what to do. any advice?

ScummyMummy Mon 01-Jun-09 23:12:24

Oh poor dd, hat. And poor you- it sounds heartbreaking. Have you moved? How long has she been at the new school? I think it really takes a while to adjust sometimes. Have you had any of the kids in the new school round to play yet? Maybe she needs a bit of one-to-one time with them to get to know them a bit better.

ingles2 Mon 01-Jun-09 23:16:50

Hi Hatwoman. How are you? smile
Before I tell you the bad news (in my case) have you been to speak to her teacher? invited girls back for tea?, joined any outside groups/clubs etc?
From how you are describing her, she's got to be 9.... my ds1 is exactly the same at the minute.
Always looking for someone to blame, veers between being hugely over confident (I'm going to be a rich and famous footballer!...oh yeah? you and the rest of the world wink )
to having a little sob that no likes him/he's not the best at football etc.
and all our friends dc's are the same. seems normal and just a stage....
Now the bad news.... I moved my boys out of the village school for this reason.
there were 10 in ds1 year and 9 in ds2s. They were in a mixed class so always together and just not enough choice of friends.
ds2 is quirky, not your typical boy and literally didn't have any friends which is not hard when there are only 3 others. I moved them to a bigger junior school and they are much happier generally.
Sorry I know that's probably not what you want to hear,...you've not even been there very long.... Is there any other choice of school?
Have you talked to dd about her thoughts on school?

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 01-Jun-09 23:24:19

No advice, I'm afraid, only questions.

When did you move? How long has she been at this school? Are the five girls the entire year group or are there some boys too? Has she been unhappy for some time or has half term just brought things to a head? Are there any other children living locally she could socialise with - Brownies, Woodcraft Folk, music or art group etc? If all else failed, is there any alternative school nearby?

I guess (pretty obviously) that there are two sets of overlapping issues here. If the move of home and school is quite recent, then she's bound to be feeling unsettled and anxious and perhaps blaming the girls at school for that. Everything and everyone may be 'wrong' if she's still hankering after the old school and her old friends. And then there are the behavioural things. If she hates being quiet, does she want to be more assertive or more outgoing? Would she welcome you coaching her in that? Would a new hobby give her more confidence?

Sorry, no answers. Have just rambled on.

hatwoman Mon 01-Jun-09 23:24:31

thanks for the reply scummy - it is heart breaking. we moved early january - but I really don't know how long it takes to settle. she's had a birthday party - which seemed to go well, although I could tell she wasn't totally comfortable. she had one friend round for tea the first week (never got invited back...but have since realised most people here don't really "do" tea, more just coming round to play - often at the last minute, rather than arranged in advance). she was invited to one friend's house for a morning over half-term. you're right - I do need to invite some of the others round. I think time at home does help to build friendships at school.

scarletlilybug Mon 01-Jun-09 23:25:08

Poor thing! Definitely go in and talk to the teacher. See if she can have anyone around to tea. Are there any clubs she could join for sheer enjoyment and/or to boost her confidence?

Sounds like early days yet, maybe she just needs a bit more time to settle in. OTOH, I had similar problems with dd1 in a small village school last year. In the nmed I moved her to another (larger) school after a lot of dithering. I've never looked back and whilst I'm not suggesting you take your dd out of school at this early stage, maybe if things aren't looking better in a few weeks you could perhaps check whether thare are any other schools around that might suit her better. Whilst some children thrive in very small schools, for others thay can be a complete nightmae (IME).

Fingers crossed that it won't come to that, though.

hatwoman Mon 01-Jun-09 23:32:39

thanks for the other replies too.

schools - yes there are other schools in neighbouring villages we could explore. it could be difficult with dd2 but I do know one person who's done this. (two girls at different village schools).

other friends - she's made one friend up the road.

activities - gymnastics and horse riding - the latter was intended as a confidence boost - something she could do because she's older. and Brownies - which has just started in the next village - in part because I volunteered to help out - the woman who started it couln't get any help so I signed up.

I think we need a campaign of tea invites and a word with the head (also her form-teacher) to start with.

thanks lots for the replies.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Mon 01-Jun-09 23:40:41

Good luck.

I am a Brown Owl so am confident that Brownies will solve everything. wink

ScummyMummy Mon 01-Jun-09 23:45:42

I'm a big believer in invitations over to play campaigns. Had about a zillion kids over when we moved house, having previously been v lazy about so doing. It did work. Or at least helped while they were finding their feet. Have now reverted to type and have to be nagged. Really hope things improve for your dd, hat.

ingles2 Tue 02-Jun-09 09:24:16

I'd give it time then Hat.
She has plenty going on outside of school and brownies will be great for making more friends.
She will be feeling unsettled but as I said before, a huge chunk of the upset/confidence or lack of, will be due to her age and hormones.
Good luck smile

saintmaybe Tue 02-Jun-09 09:38:59

We had something like this with ds1; there were 6 boys in his year, the other 5 were into football/ sports, ds is so not. He was friends with a girl, but she increasingly, from year 5 or so, wanted to spend time with other girls who he didn't get on with so well.

there are so many nice things about small schools, but a very small pool of people to be friends with is the real flipside.

It helped ds to learn electric guitar, it was 'cool' and gave him confidence and kudos.

The other thing that became apparent was that the the gap he perceived between himself and his primary peers was way bigger than they thought it was. They liked him; it was more about his stuff, and wanting to find his 'tribe'.

He is now in secondary, and instantly identified and hooked up with 5-6 kids who were into the same things as him, so although the last couple of years of primary were hardish, he didn't seem to lose confidence/ social ability in the longer run.

would agree with talking to the school.

hatwoman Tue 02-Jun-09 21:08:54

I talked to one of the teachers today - not actually her teacher but, as it's a small school she still knows dd. We were chatting and out of interest I asked her how she thought dd1 was doing - and she said that she had actually thought to herself today that she looked happier and more engaged than previously, playing nicely with a couple of the other girls. she said she looked like she was starting to settle in. so that's good. and I've arranged for a friend to come over.

none of this is helped by the fact that dd2, bless her, is one of those naturally gregarious and likeable types - which makes it harder for dd1. but I'm feeling a bit better about it all, and dd1 says she's feeling ok today.

ScummyMummy Tue 02-Jun-09 22:23:39

That sounds good, hat.

ingles2 Wed 03-Jun-09 09:19:47

That's great Hat smile

Bramshott Wed 03-Jun-09 09:31:32

Also remember that in a small school it's much more accepted that people form friendships across year-groups, so see if there are any children she 'gels' with from the year above or the year below and invite them over too?

amidaiwish Wed 03-Jun-09 09:37:03

some great advice here and glad she seems to be settling in a bit more

one point i just wanted to make is that if dd2 is naturally gregarious and likeable then do make sure dd1 has time with her friends on her own. My dd1 is quite quiet and dd2 is full of fun. When dd1 has a friend over it can end up with dd2 and friend playing with dd1 off doing her own thing, i thought for a while "oh that's just dd1" but now i have made an effort to get dd2 out of the way, and spoke to dd2 about actually "Playing" with her friends when they come over the difference is remarkable!

saintmaybe Wed 03-Jun-09 09:38:14

well done, hope it continues to get better.

hatwoman Wed 03-Jun-09 11:01:38

good point amidaiwish - sounds quite like my two. dd2 can "muscle in" sometimes - not at all unpleasantly intentioned - it's just how she is. I've always tried to arrnage play dates (hate that expression, but it does do the trick) so that we avoid the 3s a crowd situation, but posisbly need to be particularly careful about it at the moment.

(btw - this thread has been really helpful, and has also helped me see that mn can still do what it's meant to do...)

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