Year 7 boy Very Stressed(34 Posts)
My year 7 DS moved from a state primary to an independent school in London, in September. He was top dog at primary (very happy and confident) and was only boy from his school to go to his new school where he knew no one. At first he loved it, and in some ways still does, but he's finding the social thing, very hard, and he spent Monday Tuesday and Wednesday at home, with stomach cramps, which the GP says is common in children who are stressed. The stomach thing has been going on for about two terms,(but never for as long as that) and he's had a blood test (all clear) and is having one further test. It's a mixed school, he has a few boy friends in other classes but is finding it hard pushing himself into groups and finding partners when asked to in sports lessons etc. That whole area is making him very stressed resulting in the stomach cramps. I think partly because he's very small and as he says, "it's hard when you're small to make your presence felt." We have been to see form teacher who says he's going to reintroduce a seating plan for registration, so he doesn't have to agonise over where to sit, and academically he's doing very well. But then the same form teacher emailed the next day to say sorry my DS wasn't at school, when he clearly was and he hadn't noticed somehow in registration, thereby reinforcing my DS's view that he is a bit invisible. He's joined several lunch time and after school groups, had friends over etc. but something isn't working. Last term he often found himself having lunch alone etc. Do I think about moving him? Or hope that he settles down next academic year? How common is this problem? Of course I would expect some teething problems coming from small primary, but we are in summer term now. Have to add that some of these children at his school have been together for a while, as they were in prep school together, but some of the kids who were new at 11 have settled.
First off, I would find out if DS was at registration or hiding out. Both possibilities would concern me but the second more so. I have also missed children at reg, not because they are invisible to me but because sometimes they are looking under table in bag etc when I look for them (I don't cal,out names). If he called name and got no response, was your des hiding somewhere afraid to go to class. that would be the fist thing to look at. Secondly yes, go,back to the school. It needs more than a seating plan change in one class but support across,the subjects/rooms he is in so he is not last picked in teams, left out of group work etc.
Was the peer group,well established having come thru the prep school,together?
It is common at a guesstimate 5-10% of our children will have problems settling in. But by now (summer term) these will fall into two camps those who are now with help get used to it and those who are still struggling. Does the school have a really good reputation for pastoral care? They all write stuff on their websites etc we can all do that but what about its day to day actual reality. If you feel/believe/know it does arrange to meet with his tutor/form teacher/head of pastoral care for his yr someone with a bit of authority and discuss the problems with them, see how they respond. If they give you all this stuff about "oh he's fine when he's here" "he always look happy to me" "I never see him alone" you know the sort of thing then IMO you're on a lost cause and I'd move him. If they seem genuinely concerned then try and work out an plan He needs someone he can talk to, perhaps his tutor etc can try and pair him up with a like minded boy, he needs to feel someone cares and wants to help. Nearly all schools have a counsellor he could try talking to them and again in my now extensive experience of dealing with this the other thing to consider is paediatric CBT we see amazing results, but those who genuinely specialise in this are sadly few and far between and are very expensive.
Finally again from personal experience you cant make children like other children, many who to my eyes look like nice decent kids are often for some unknown reason disliked by others we have found it virtually impossible to get even other nice decent kids to like them despite extensive effort on our part and most cant give a specific reason why they don't like them. Sometimes it's better to start all over again.
adoptmama Yes he was definitely in registration, because when I asked the school office they checked and said yes, and the form teacher just emailed yesterday to say don't panic, he's here, rather than any explanation. DS confirmed he was in reg, (we then had to pick him up at break as nurse rang to say he had stomach cramps) WE've spoken to head of year last term, although he's hopeless at being in touch, he did send list of boys he thought suitable for DS and he is friends with some of them.schoolnurse yes he's seen school counsellor, although that not an easy option as its during school hours once a week an she's heavily booked and once when she had agreed to see him she had double booked, Also I think he finds it a bit embarrassing to explain to teacher why he has to leave lesson. So we've taken him once or twice to private counsellor, and once more on this coming Sat, but think may ask Dr about being referred for CBT - then again don't want to overload him with therapy at his age, it all seems quite heavy for one so young.
Quite reluctant to move him really unless things really don't improve as he will just have to go through being new boy one again...And how do I find school really suited for him......that has space...and Ugg....
I don't think the school's response as been as helpful as it could be.
You cannot force friendships but you can support a child in developing self esteem and prompt them to get involved and be included even just in the class activities.
Double booked appointments, a hard to contact Head of Year and feeling missed out even by his own form tutor all point to the fact that they are either not treating this very seriously or don't have the will to really make positive changes that could help.
For example, in sports lessons, the teacher could appoint partners for a while rather than have your DS stood on the sidelines with nobody initially to pair up with. This can be done easily without making your DS feel he's been singled out. If your DS likes boys in other classes, the staff could ensure he manages to find one to sit with for lunch and generally keep an eye on him and talk to you each week to let you know how it is going.
Independent schools generally have smaller classes and less children per year than state schools so none of this should be beyond the interventions that are feasible for teachers to do - in fact even in a large state school you'd expect updates and some support if it is making a child ill with stress. I do think they should be on to this a bit more.
You are highly unlikely to get paediatric CBT in the NHS we cover three NHS trusts and none will fund it. I also doubt he would meet the criteria for a CAMHS referral I'm afraid. Do make sure your counsellor is qualified to work with children.
CBT is marvellous it literally transform pupils who were really struggling with a whole host of things if this was my DS in your situation I wouldn't pay for straight forward normal counselling but pay more for CBT. We do have children doing both because CBT is significantly more proactive although of course no instant results.
To be honest I doubt the situation would change in another school, as if he is shy in this one I do not think that he would suddenly become confident in another.
"To be honest I doubt the situation would change in another school, as if he is shy in this one I do not think that he would suddenly become confident in another."
The children we look after receive an extra ordinary high level of pastoral care/support from a multidisciplinary team of teachers psychologists nurses etc when they are in similar situations to your DS I know because I regularly meet with my overstretched colleagues in other schools/areas. But sometimes despite all our best effort we cannot help all. Some of these then move onto other schools it can sometimes work a clean slate/fresh start can be whats needed so I personally wouldn't rule it out especially if you feel the school isn't being very supportive.
This is a very difficult time for your son. The fact that you feel he may be suffering with these cramps and taking time off due to stress shows how much it is affecting him. I am shocked that the school is not taking this extremely seriously. I would be looking at other options and asking potential schools how they will take the care now necessary to integrate your son successfully.
Primarily, you want a school with a similar ethos to the primary school where he felt secure and happy
I would think of moving him too - to a more nurturing school with a good reputation for its pastoral work. Which part of London are you in?
If he's friends in other classes could he move?
At dd1's school they are very helpful about moving classes for friendships, there's still a few movements happening even at this time, as people make friends in other classes or still haven't made friends in their own class.
The not pushing is a problem. I don't think it is actually anything to do with his height-I've seen it happen with tall ones too. I have this with dd1. She sees a group talking that she'd like to join and she assumes because they're together they won't want her, even if in theory she knows they wouldn't mind her joining in, she won't go unless specifically asked. So she would be having lunch on her won simply because she lacked confidence to go up to someone she knew and say "mind if I join you". They then assume she doesn't want to be friends and the cycle continues.
Stressed, I have a similar problem, a DS in Year 7, with stomach cramps, anxiety etc. I think it's fairly common.
We are currently waiting for CBT, DS is doing breathing exercises every morning with the head of pastoral care (which is really simple, but has helped him lots - breathe in all the good things, breathe out all your worries) and I have also taken him to the homeopath. Homepathic remedies certainly seem to help him, but so far they are more a crutch (which I'm grateful for though) than a solution.
Of ocurse I don't know your DS circumstances, but I think moving him to another school might not be the answer.
I don't know if your DS is like mine, but I am at a point where I'm thinking, my DS will never be a happy go lucky person - he will always worry about things. That is the way he is, and I'm sure it will have certain advantages throughout his life. Rather than stopping him worrying and being anxious altogether, I hope I can help him find a way where he can keep his worrying more contained.
Was your DS happy in primary school, or were there underlying worries then too?
DS1 is in Y8 and happy at school but for the last month has been suffering from low mood, anxiety & abdominal cramps. It was triggered by the very sudden death of one of my closest friends. He was close to her too and is not coping well.
I also doubt he would get any help from CAMHS as they understandably have to allocate resources to young people who have more serious needs than his. There are bereavement charites that offer counselling to young people, but again priority understandably goes to those who have lost a parent or sibling.
I am in the process of trying to approach the school to see of they can help him. In the meantime he is writing a journal which seems to help him a little.
He had a rough patch in Y6 and found the books by J.Alexander quite helpful (How To Be Happy etc) but they are more for 9-12 year olds so I'm looking for something equivalent for teenagers.
I know Dawn Huebner has written some books but don't know what age they are aimed at.
When DS transferred to london indy junior school at 8 there was, in term 2, some low level bullying. We had a word with the form teacher - nothing. We wrote to the form teacher - lip service. We wrote to the headmaster. Sorted in three days flat and never looked back.
We sent dd to a renowned london girls comp. She spent year 7 terrified and the head made all the right noises. She had counselling and that helped; she had friends but that didn't alter the fact that the head did nada about behaviour (we had some otHer concerns about the direction of the school too). We moved dd after Y 8 and within weeks had our old dd back again and at the end of Y10 she is so happy and doing so well. Last year the old school's public exam results nose dived - five years after new management moved in.
Follow your heart OP. To me he sounds a square peg in a round hole and five out of 16 or 18 yers of life is a huge and formative portion of a life to be unhappy.
With hindsight we should have moved her after Y7. She is quiet and was v stressed and we didn't want to stress her more by moving her. DD was v brave but didn't know any better, she was 12 - merely 12. We also hoped the school would do what they said they would do and fulfil promises. They did not.
We felt dd would be happier at a different school. She had a taster day at the end of Y8 and loved it. We said that if she didn't like it at the end of the first week in Y9 she could go back to the old school. But the idea, became embedded over the summer holidays and she was keen to go in the Sept. We informed the old school she would not return after the first week at the new school with dd's full consent. It was not until then she or we properly realised what a bad experience she had had.
just to say dc's school seem to take a fair few in Y8 - they are nearly all dc who have tried the state system and it hasn't worked. Y9 the prep school dc come in, so in the first 3 years, newcomers are commonplace - it certainly wouldn't be strange and being a small school the friendship groups are not difficult to infiltrate
We moved state to independent. Because borough transfers were not involved we did not formally notify the old school that dd would not return and her place could be released until after the start of the autumn term. They had complied with references an there was nothing they could do until we formally confirmed dd would not return. But yes they were miffed she went - bright girl, no trouble, parents who donated. Nut a family with a choice. I believe steps are now being taken to deal with the school's management by the governors with whom the penny has now dropped.
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