Depressed 15year old son(4 Posts)
My DS is in year 10 and I think he is depressed and demotivated with school and life in general. He was previously diagnosed with depression in year 7/8 after being bullied by boys that had been his friends in primary school. Since then, counselling and having a trusting relationship with me at home in which he felt able to talk were enough to help him through the bad times. He also withdrew himself from these boys and made friends with another boy but he sadly left the school so again my DS was left isolated. His secondary school is very small, so there aren't a great choice of potential friends and my DS is very reluctant to join up with the kids who get in trouble. As a result, he's left very much alone. There was a girl who he liked and they spent break time together. It was very innocent but my DS's confidence in himself was clearly boosted. However, this seems to have stopped and again my DS is all alone. His school report and studies show that his marks are falling and concentration is waning. I've tried talking to him but it's not as easy to chat as it was two years ago when he felt the same way. He has no self-confidence out of school either and will often just mope around at home.
I know this can be a difficult time at his age,but he also has underlying health problems which may be causing him to feel different. Any ideas of how I can help him would be much appreciated. I'm conscious that his GCSEs will be fast approaching and that they can be stressful enough without any additional problems. Thanks.
That's a tough situation. Is the school small because you are in a rural area? If not, finding something he can do outside school to boost his confidence might help - a youth drama group (they are famous for helping people with low confidence) or a martial arts group (same thing - great mind-body work on self respect and self-discipline.) Some other sports - maybe rowing or a local team, or scouts, might give him a wider option of friends. Something mixed might help if he finds girls easier to talk with and befriend.
He's old enough that you can't force this stuff on him, but you could have a straightforward chat and explain your concerns, asking him to take up one of these options for a term to see if it helps.
DS2 is quite short of friends and confidence, and I get concerned a lot. He has a group he goes to once a week. TBH he's made no friends there, but the upside is that he has become really good at what he does there, and in itself, that has given him self-confidence and motivation for his future. And it's something he loves to do in his spare time, instead of just being stuck doing computer games. Is there a hobby he might want to take up - playing an instrument or drawing graphic novels - something you can do alone but get confidence and satisfaction from? That sort of thing can lead to strong friendships later in life when you meet people who share your interests. Or he might make friends online if he joins a specific hobby-related chat room.
Help remind him that there's a vast, interesting world out there beyond school. Maybe take him on visits to some sixth form colleges, or uni open days (not too early if something sparks his interest.) He's not happy were he is and with the people around him, but that's no reason why he might not be happy somewhere else. Try and get him to see the connection between hard work for GCSEs and wider options later in life.
One benefit of not having a massive, complex social life at his age is that you can bury yourself in work. Of course it's better to have a happy balance, but if there isn't one, he can make the best of his time. (All my friends left school at 16 and I was left in 6th form with a clique that didn't include me. I put my head down and got great grades through sheer loneliness. The grades came in handy and I made friends elsewhere.)
I think you need to go in and talk to the school about this. If the tutor is not helpful, go higher - it is really important to flag this up - do not wait until parents evening. The school may have facilities you don't know about such as a special lunch room/area for isolated children or a library club or a mentor system (older student takes a younger under their wing). There may be a visiting counsellor. who can help your son develop coping strategies and may run "friendship/SEAL groups. The tutor will know who may be a good match for potential friendships and can ask teachers to arrange seating plans or change classes to accomodate interaction. I would really push the school to improve things for your child - they will usually avoid getting involved unless a parent makes noise. Especially as your son also has a health issue he needs the school to take extra pastoral care and you may need to push for that.
My son has joined a coding club (outside of school) he is really good at it and although he hasn't really made friends, he has had his esteem boosted by the praise of others for his work. If things get worse would home education or an adapted timetable at school (attending fewer "stressful lessons" such as PE or drama or whatever raises your son's level of anxiety)help?
Given that his lack of confidence is linked to having been bullied, you may find it helpful to talk yo Kidscape who offer advice on a Parents helpline. Otherwise finding something fun outside of school, as other posters suggest. And just see if school can help. You might be pleasantly surprised. Good luck. I know it breaks your heart to see them suffer xx
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