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Term two and a half and daughter still hates secondary school

(30 Posts)
TupperwareQueen Tue 01-Mar-16 00:56:43

Hello, long story, but I am mother of B/G twins who started secondary school last Sept. The start was complicated by DS being v ill for the first week and a half, and DD made friends, then seemed to lose them once DS arrived at school. She still has not managed to fit in anywhere, not eating lunch because she won't go to the canteen, won't join clubs, won't do sports. She has gone from a confident, social, sporty girl to a hunch-shouldered, shy, sad person who seems to hate herself and says that she doesn't deserve attention and recently is saying that death would be her best option as she is sad and fat and ugly.

DD is of course not any of the above, apart from sad, and very lonely. If I could have one wish in life at the moment, it would be that just one person would say to DD, come and sit with us for lunch. She only needs one friend.

I have had lots of contact with school, and she is seeing the school psychologist, but the psychologist is leaving at the end of this term, and may not be replaced due to cuts in the budget. I am so worried about DD, I feel like I am caught between trying to support her, but not over-react to her lowest moments, and trying to make her come out of herself and do things which will help, like exercise, see her primary friends, draw and write. I spoke to the psychologist today for the first time, and although she isn't 'allowed' to talk about her sessions with DD, she did let a lot of things into the conversation. Like the pastoral team is currently 'fractured'.

Psychologist is having a meeting with the head of pastoral and the head of year about DD on Wednesday, and I have asked to be there, Psych says I have to have DD's consent as they will be discussing stuff from their sessions. It seems odd that I have to have my DD's approval to attend, but the other staff members don't.

Anyone else out there who has gone through this - and not a half-term, or a term into secondary school? Please don't say, join a club, or get involved in sports. How do you lift a DD in this situation?

Scarydinosaurs Tue 01-Mar-16 01:19:21

Sorry you're going through this.

Why do you think her brother's arrival signalled a downturn for her?

What has happened to her friends/sport teams from primary?

thebiscuitindustry Tue 01-Mar-16 01:35:26

This does sound worrying, especially the thoughts about death. Can you take your DD to the GP for some advice? They might be able to sort out some counselling, so there's something in the pipeline when the psychologist leaves. They'll also be able to assess whether your DD has depression or some other problem contributing to her low mood at the moment.


TupperwareQueen Tue 01-Mar-16 01:55:00

Scary D slightly complicated situation, friend from primary (boy) kind-of looked after DD till DS arrived, then he chose DS group, and at that time DD had to choose one group or another, chose the wrong one. The boy kicked DD from the group. Have spoken to school about this too, in fact school probably see me as the loudest squeaky wheel.

TupperwareQueen Tue 01-Mar-16 01:59:23

Yep that is on my list, but I'm worried that if I take DD to GP they will go to the tick box of clinical depression and put her straight onto antidepressants, not sure I want her to be put into that regime already. The waiting list for therapy is long. Also, the worry about the right medication, etc.

sashh Tue 01-Mar-16 06:07:00

I was like your dd, I didn't get the antidepressants until I was in my 30s but looking back I should have had them sooner.

For a child it would not be looked at as a long term thing and might just help.

What is happening with her brother? Can't he meet her at break?

Scarydinosaurs Tue 01-Mar-16 06:15:37

Can you pay for some sessions of private therapy?

Stillunexpected Tue 01-Mar-16 08:40:17

It's not clear if you have taken her to the GP at all yet. Don't assume that the only option is anti-depressants and if it is going to help her anyway, please don't discount it. Also you say the waiting list for therapy is long but is she even on the list?

Is your DD able to tell you why specifically she is sad - bullying, struggles with work, being overwhelmed in a larger school environment, all of the above or something else?

What about her getting involved in something outside of school - sport, music, drama, cadets? It may not help with friendships in school but it might give her other friends and improve her self-esteem which must be on the floor by now?

jaguar67 Tue 01-Mar-16 08:53:17

Feeling deeply for you as a mum and sending a virtual hug ....
Great advice above -
1. Absolutely see GP and DEMAND a referral for therapy (he can have access to school psychologist report to help this). Yes, there's a long wait but she needs to be in the system to get a proper assessment. Simply being seen by a GP may help her spirits & properly managed, short-term anti-depressants can help enormously. Bottom-line is though, none of us can determine that - she needs to see a medical professional.
2. Demand to be in that meeting at school whatever - you are the mother here.
3. Great idea to pursue external clubs - perhaps for her drawing which you say she loves? Will help meet friends with similar interests. Perhaps also an out of school netball club or whatever she used to love doing? You'd be amazed how an additional external perspective can help.
4. Not eating lunch worries me - if this is the case, the school has a duty of care to ensure this is happening and if they can't provide supervision, perhaps you could meet her in school car-park to eat together?

There's no doubt your DD sounds a very troubled girl right now, but she's lucky to have her loving mum, who's going to give her the strength to get through this. Year 7 is often a rubbish year for many kids (mine had so many ups and down), so do reassure her that some of this at least is the tough part of growing up that everyone goes through (even the confident looking ones). But also that she'll get the support she needs with everything else. Wishing you all the best xxx

321zerobaby Tue 01-Mar-16 08:55:20

My dd was very unhappy at her secondary school (yr 7) and we decided to move her, which we did this term. So far she seems happier, but she has always been shy and struggled to make friends, moving to secondary school just amplified things. New school is much smaller.

4whatthatsworth Tue 01-Mar-16 09:12:43

Tupperware - so sorry to hear this. There is nothing worse than feeling powerless to help your child. I think the school need to take far more robust measures. The counselling sessions are very important, but the damage is being done at lunchtimes / social times. Could they not identify another girl who is struggling to make friends and "buddy" them up in some way? Your dd may feel like she's the only one who is isolated, but this will not be the case! Year 7 can be horrendous - lots of social jostling, differences in maturity, acting out, etc. Believe me, I have been there! If I was the head at that school, I would identify a more mature / kind pupil or two and give her / them the "special task" of befriending your dd and trying to integrate her. Both sides can only benefit here. The girl or girls chosen should report to a particular teacher daily about how things are going, so that the support doesn't lose impetus. They will feel proud to have been enlisted to help. Sometimes, this is all it takes. I think you should demand this today. Good luck.

wavedancer68 Tue 01-Mar-16 09:43:49

Does your DD have all or most of her lessons with her Form. If so could you ask for her to be moved into a different Form. The school may say it is not their policy to move children, but push for her to be moved if necessary. There will be other children to be friends with at her school - she just needs to find them and the best way is to be put with a new set. We usually only make friends from the circles we move in.

Are you sure the boy who excluded her from the group (or someone else) isn't saying unkind things to her. Is she avoiding going to the canteen because she has no friends and doesn't want to go alone or is it because someone who is being unpleasant might be in there.

Apart from her twin and possibly the boy who excluded her from the group did she have other friends at primary? Are they at her current school and if so could she be moved to their form?

cuckoooo Tue 01-Mar-16 09:58:24

4whats makes an excellent suggestion and I am surprised the school has not taken that approach initially.

She is clearly feeling ostracised at school and it is having a detrimental effect.

Is she in a school where none of her previous friends went?

Have you considered changing schools? Is it an option?

whyayepetal Tue 01-Mar-16 15:10:15

Hi OP - does the school have a prefect system amongst the older students? If so, they might be able to help out at lunch/break times by involving her in something or just inviting her to sit with them occasionally. Possibly worth asking HOY when you go to meeting.

schoolnurse Tue 01-Mar-16 16:31:28

OP GP's will not prescribe anti depressants to a 11/12 year old, AD's are not licensed in children and therefore the NICE guidelines state they should only be prescribed after consultation by a psychiatrist.
If your DD is having suicidal thoughts then this is safe guarding issue and therefore there is no confidentiality between counsellor and her when it comes to keeping her safe therefore the counsellor doesn't have to ask for your DD's permission to talk to you. Although obviously she cannot necessarily tell you everything she say.
OP go and see your GP and see if you can get a CAMHs ref. I'd also look into the qualifications of the counsellor in my now very extensive experience some are great but many have only the most basic qualifications/experience and do not know how to deal with teenagers having suicidal thoughts.

Luna9 Tue 01-Mar-16 17:23:13

Why don't you just take her to the GP and get her blood test checked to make sure there is not any other condition triggering it without mentioning depression but just to make sure she is not lacking any vitamins, lvitamin D, iron, check her thyroid, etc Making sure everything is in order.

Also look into moving her to a different school where she is independent of her twin; she must feel very rejected knowing she was kicked out after her brother joined school and that is affecting her a lot.

Could you also look into any other alternative treatment like cranial osteopathy to help her feel a bit more relaxed; perhaps yoga .

Best of luck; she must feel really lonely.

TupperwareQueen Wed 02-Mar-16 23:55:16

Hi everyone and thanks so much for all your support and suggestions - it is so kind of you to take the time.

We had a DD summit meeting at school today with head of pastoral, head of year, counsellor and DD. I was quite shocked about DD's general demeanour during the meeting, like a different person from the one I know at home. She left to go to a class after 10 mins and I asked was this what she was generally like, and was told she was relatively chatty compared to her normal school self.

Then I came back to collect her and DS and another from school, all chatty, happy joking on the way home. I look at this version of DD and think no way is she depressed, but then look at the school version, and wonder. So clearly the problem lies with how she is at school, or feels about school.

Anyway, lots of plans to try and solve things, the pastoral head seems to have taken it as a personal challenge to get DD integrated now, after a term and a half of faffing around with things which haven't worked.

DS has suggested on several occasions that she go to clubs with him at lunchtime, but she won't. We will go and see the GP, just to run things by her. Changing form has been suggested, but again, DD says no, she sort-of knows her current form now and starting again would be too hard. DD has two mentors in the year above who meet her weekly to advise and chat, but apparently DD has been late on most days. I have suggested the buddy thing, and let's see how that goes. Also, giving DD a small role somewhere in the school so she feels a little integrated. And now she will have a structured lunchtime with a club each day where someone will come and find her and take her to the club. Finally, a special lunchtime pass so she can eat first, in a place of her choosing.

So, feeling a bit more positive today. Hopefully DD will start feeling so too! Changing schools is really bottom of my list as I think that the problem doesn't lie with the school but more in DD's confidence. But it is on the list.


TupperwareQueen Fri 04-Mar-16 01:05:09

New developments. DD now seems happier just at the thought that things might get better. We definitely want DD to stay at this school, if she can make her way through the complications, and find a way to be happy. It is an excellent school, and DD worked so hard to get in, it seems a shame to change at this stage.

In the darkest hours of DD's despair, I applied to some other schools. This evening, I had an email from one of them, an independent girls' school, to say please attend, sit exams, meet the head, etc. In 9 day's time.

Now what?? She can't attend without me telling the current school as they want a reference. I don't want to present a new school as a way out if things are going to get better at the the one she is at. And if she doesn't get in? And if she does?

Luna9 Fri 04-Mar-16 07:36:10

You said she was happy before her brother joined so perhaps being independent of him can be better for her; maybe she feels he is more popular and feels rejected. Also; not sure how she feels about all that counselling, meetings, etc. She may think she is a problem and that can affect her too. Have you discussed with her the possibilities of changing school? Can you go and see the other school with her? I know is in the bottom of your list and you know your daughter better the end of the day.

2016IsANewYearforMe Fri 04-Mar-16 09:23:09

If you can afford the private school, and DD likes the idea, I think a fresh start could make changing her feelings easier to pull off.

TeddTess Fri 04-Mar-16 09:35:43

Changing schools is really bottom of my list as I think that the problem doesn't lie with the school but more in DD's confidence.

there's your answer

keep the other school as an option later. sounds like the school is working with you. if your dd doesn't want to change classes i doubt she will want to change schools. it's got to come from her - what does she think?

Tweennightmare Fri 04-Mar-16 09:37:56

Hi Tupperware due to being an expat my dd has moved school 4 times every move was great until the last one uk comp year 8 . She was very confident about the move but it was a nightmare never gelled with any children made no friends although I honestly believe she really tried. Involved the school but made little progress . By the February my dd was a different child no confidence the stress of the situation caused her to start pulling out her eyelashes and I was beside myself . We moved school in the end. It was the best thing we did she loves her new school her confidence is back and family life restored. Your school sounds great in the steps they are making but I would still explore moving school just in case it dosent work . Visit the girls school your dd may love it (or hate it!) but at least you will have options available

VilootShesCute Fri 04-Mar-16 09:48:40

This was me when I was younger. Change schools. Easier said than done but it sounds like you are actually an amazing parent who is aware if all of these problems and being proactive. Unlike my parents. It greatly affected me and I have suffered for my entire life because of school. I hope you manage to sort it soon flowers

BabyGanoush Fri 04-Mar-16 13:34:38

The school won't hold it against you if you are looking at other schools.

I would just tell the truth: you are investigating the options, but would prefer it if DD could make a success of the current school. I left DCs' state school for a private school and was able to negotiate the whole thing without burning any bridges, it is possible. We left on good terms, the old HT still greets us and asks after the DC 7 years later smile I find, generally in life, that being straight and polite is the way to do things. Nothing to lose by looking at the other school IMO.

It MAY just be that the current school is the wrong school for her, or it may well just be a phase (it can be a huge shock going from a small primary to a big comp) and she is still finding her feet. Hard call!

I hope she makes a friend soon, it is heartbreaking to watch your child go through this. But there must be LAODS of other kids looking for friendship. Hope it works out.

wavedancer68 Fri 04-Mar-16 13:50:25

You say your DD is appearing positive at the moment about her current school which is fantastic and if things turn out just fine you'll not be giving the Girls' School a second thought. However, if in a few weeks or months things have not improved you will most probably feel regret at not having visited the Girls' School. So I'd say go and look round - explore the possibilities and take it from there. Unfortunately school fees have a habit of increasing by between approx 3% & 5% each year so make sure you can afford the school - not just now, but in the future too.

The Girls' School may have plenty of sporting opportunities/clubs that will rekindle your DD's interest in sport and, as you say, she worked hard to get to her current school so hopefully the entrance exam will be just fine.

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