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Making more friends approach for next year at college

(13 Posts)
keeponworking Sun 15-Oct-17 10:10:38

Hi all

My DD (15) is in her exam yr at secondary school right now. Wind back time to the previous summer of 2016 and she had suffered being ostracised from her entire friendship group because some vile little girl who was really nasty turned everyone against DD including her absolutely best friend ever whom you could never have imagined her not being friends with. She literally had NO one to hang with at all that summer - it truly was awful. Since then she's had one further friendship which came and went (the girl really was bloody annoying!) and now there's a girl who she's been mates with for about the last 2-3 months and they've been at each other's houses for sleepovers non-stop and going out and about doing stuff. Now that's kind of tailing off and whilst they're good mates in school the out of school stuff is reducing and DD is once again sat on her own, bored out of her mind, of a weekend because this friend has been off at sleepovers at someone else's house (one of this girl's other friends) - not here with DD (which of course is fine, it's just that DD doesn't have anyone else that she can go hang with).

Prior to the 2016 shunning DD had a really mixed group of different friends and was out and about doing things all the time. Can I state for the record that I do NOT want her to have just one friend, and that's the entire point of this post.

What can she do differently when she goes to college in September to make sure that she gets a group of friends, not just one mate because the putting all your eggs in one basket approach is not working.

I'm not sure if it's just social anxiety of being afraid to ask a group of mates 'do you want to go here tonight, anyone interested' and the risk of a group individual saying no, and knowing that everyone within that group (if they all said no) would all know that they'd all said no, is just too potentially negative/risky for her to be able to reach out and gain friends from a variety of sources.

I'm now worrying about prom because at the moment the plan is for these two girls to go together and I'm not sure if I could cope if DD ended up with no one to go with, honestly, it would be bloody soul destroying for her, and for me as she is SOOOOOOO looking forward to it.

She has also suffered an almost total lack of contact with her dad since 2014 as well - he's an utter twat and she's repeatedly been ignored when her DB hasn't, and been rejected by her 'D'D so with the previous bullying and this as well, there's serious validity to her level of anxiety around social stuff.

I just want to help her because her natural state is gregarious, outgoing, fun loving, likes to do lots of activities and socialising and the one friend (who might already be slipping away) thing isn't supportive of that (and thus when a friendship cools as they often do, it's yet another 'there's something wrong with you, no one wants to be your mate' insult that she can do without experiencing).

Thoughts, ideas???

JustDanceAddict Sun 15-Oct-17 15:06:30

Sorry to hear about your DD’s issues. My DD is same age with slightly different friend situation, but she will prob go elsewhere for sixth form with a view to making new friends so I shall be reading this with interest.
From personal experience you have to make an effort without seeming desperate, be interested in others and always accept invites! You can be choosy once you have the full social life if you want.

keeponworking Sun 15-Oct-17 15:30:45

Thanks Justdance. I think she just seems to end up victim to the overbearing 'rules' that if you're in one group you can't socialise with others who are in another group. The extent of this last week was (partly due to DDs anxiety and having been reduced to the one friend yet again) DD spent her break times and lunches (whilst this friend was off sick for several days) in a toilet cubicle in the loos a. because she didn't want to go into the cafeteria on her own and 2. she didn't have anyone to walk round school with!

tired17 Sun 15-Oct-17 16:52:37

The thing with college is if she is doing A levels she will be with a different group of people for each subject so she will probably become friendly with different groups without consciously trying.

My DD also found at college that there was less of the cliqueness(?) than at school. Also there will be a lot of people there who don't know many other students so will be open to new friendships. She definitely found it more laid back without the friendship rules that happen in secondary school.

Another option when she is 16 is a part time job, if she goes somewhere with a large number of casual workers she may find friendships there.

Bosabosa Sun 15-Oct-17 17:00:50

I spent a few lunchtimes alone and hid in toilets (friends all sick) and I remember it still...BUT is not the end of the world as long as she has her mum on her side no matter what . That’s all you can be-an unconditional support and source of comfort for her. I think most teenagers go through a period like this- a teenager close to me currently has no one to talk to at break or lunch and it is hard. But it’s normal .Good luck

keeponworking Sun 15-Oct-17 17:37:54

Yes I'm hoping college will be a bit better and that's why I'm possibly keen to encourage a move to the local college which pulls from a wide catchment as opposed to her going to the sixth form of her existing school, which is the same site and much more school-like than college is and tends to draw students mostly who went to that school as secondary pupils. Added to which they don't have the variety of courses to complement the main one that she wants to do. She will likely be doing A levels but in art/creative/performance as opposed to the 'classics' of maths or English A levels.

The hiding out in the loos - I've commiserated with her about this but at the end of the day, she did have the option to go to the caf to get her lunch but chose not to. I have learnt the art of sitting on your own looking like you don't give a shit but she's not there yet with that one!

HowcouldIpossiblyknow Fri 20-Oct-17 22:25:29

yes that's quite a difficult one to get expert in to be fair - looking as if you don't care if you're on own! Sympathies to you and dd op, it does sound like a good idea to consider moving somewhere with new friend material for sixth form.

keeponworking Sat 21-Oct-17 00:19:00

Thanks HowcouldI.

We actually did the sixth form tour this week and... I think she's going to go there. Actually, lots of kids coming from different schools from around the region so there will be lots of new people. Plus they have excellent programmes in the two subjects she's going to do (one and A level and one a triple BTEC).

I've enquired about youth volunteering for her for next summer and I'm going to go in to see the woman who would be her dance teacher if she did go there to talk about the general problems DD has faced with both loss of mates and a dad who can't be bothered to see her and who has at times quite strong anxiety and to see if there's anything associated with her preferred courses that she could be involved with over the summer. I've got to try at least to pre-empt if this friendships ends, that she's not sat on her own for the whole summer.

So feeling more positive actually.

HowcouldIpossiblyknow Sat 21-Oct-17 07:58:41

those sound great ideas for the summer. Have you thought of ncs? - the summer version is a few weeks long, so if your dd is up for it could fill a good chunk of the long post gcse summer hol! Also a chance to meet new people. there may be some mn threads on it.

Meanwhile i think it can help to think of yr 11 not being very long - if the school does study leave she's out of there by ?april/may so only 6 more months to get through! Are there any local groups dd could join to provide ready made socialising - by yr 11 it's a bit late for things like guides I suppose, but any local volunteering groups - some times there are environmental things like 'clear the canal' with quite a few young people. (Not for everyone, I know, but depends on the teenager.)

Sundance2741 Sat 21-Oct-17 08:08:08

Sounds like a lack of confidence on her part brought on by these various experiences. To make lots of friends you have to believe you're likeable (or act like you believe it!) . Maybe reading up on social skills / ways to make friends or even a bit of counselling might help?

It sounds like she has been clinging to obe friend in gratitude. I had a friend who was obsessed with me being her best friend at school and I found it too much, even though I really liked her and got on well with her. I insisted on mixing with other people and she would get upset and see this as a betrayal. Perhaps this is what's happened with the latest friend?

Crocky Sat 21-Oct-17 08:21:44

I second the National Citizens Service for next year. It was £35 and filled up the long after exam space nicely. My ds did it this year. He went on from that to do the HeadStart volunteering and loved it.
He made some friends that have now gone on to the same college.

HowcouldIpossiblyknow Sat 21-Oct-17 08:55:57

"To make lots of friends you have to believe you're likeable (or act like you believe it!) ."
It does sound as though dd has 'friendship making skills' as she has made (and still makes) friends in the past, so that is a very good starting point for her.
I think the question about how to make a group of friends is a good one. On the one hand, spread yourself too wide and you may risk not seeming to have the 'commitment' to a person that is needed to form a friendship; but on the other, you want not to only have one friend! And on the other, group dynamics can bring many many problems of their own..

I think it's easier in the adult world, where you can have many separate friendships in different 'areas' - work, clubs, neighbours etc. In school your separate friendships are more obvious and can lead to ructions, as people feel threatened. Yet another reason why out of school activities are a good idea!

Sorry op got a bit side tracked from the practical question of good strategies for college!

keeponworking Sat 21-Oct-17 09:29:45

Thanks all. Yes, I've registered her for NCS but not told her yet (or given any of her details) plus enquired about stuff that the Princes Trust do BUT one of the reasons I'm going to see her teacher is that it's how this is introduced that will need careful management.

Yes your'e right Sundance - essentially it started with her family (XHs side) who quite literally broke her - she knows she's not the favourite female grandchild and it's been practically demonstrated umpteen multiple times and then loss of contact with her dad, fear of and some loss of contact with the rest of that part of her family and then when a friendship change occurs, these are all just reinforcements that she's not good enough/there's something wrong with her.

Crocky it's £50 now (but still seems like a bargain). Re the clinging to friends - I guess that kind of arose out of necessity because she had about two months where she literally had none. So her confidence and the fear of rejection play a strong part rather than her badgering people or resenting them for having other friends - she's never tried to stop them it's just more practical that if they are hanging with another friend, she's got no one. She would happily hang with others but I think she's so afraid of rejection (and of course the oft impenetrable who's in who's group' thing) that she doesn't reach out to try and mix with others, it's too potentially crushing. So she's in a bit of a catch 22 situation at the moment. She's just been out with this friend last night and she's slept over so that's been a great evening for her with them doing their favourite shared activity til bloody 11pm last night!!

That's alright Howcouldyou! This wider musing is also what I wanted and had been thinking about. I reallllly hope that college is a better experience and this group bollocks is much less prevalent. Talking to two students doing the main course DD is going to be doing at the open evening, they report how it's totally different there to school (even though on the same site but in a swanky and really well appointed separate facility) and how on this particular course they become like family - which is kinda what she's lost something of in recent years.

Also (side-tracking myself) the sixth form offers a really good degree of tailoring of courses to an individual's requirements, class sizes are small and thus not overwhelming, and she's going to be doing two subjects that she really really enjoys and fit with the two potential careers she's looking at. We're actually not going to look at other colleges as they either offer the range of courses, or if they do then they don't routinely achieve the high academic grade results that the sixth form does - plus sixth form is a 10 minute walk away which makes a whole lot of sense as well.

Thanks everyone.

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