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DD13 still struggling socially - don't know how to help her :((24 Posts)
My DD is the loveliest girl - so kind and good-natured. But she struggles with friendships all the time. She was fine at nursery and the first 3 or 4 years of primary but then her friends started to drift away when they found new friends. It was upsetting for her but she moved on and found someone new eventually. By year 6 the other girls were moving onto being interested in clothes and makeup but she had no interest in that and it seemed like they drifted apart except for one girl who was pretty immature for her age but very sweet and nice to DD.
Since we had moved a couple of miles away DD started at a secondary school that only a couple of people from her class were going to and she wasn't close to any of them nor was she in the same class or house as any of them. When she went along for induction day I felt a bit concerned as her new class queued up as they all seemed to know each other (or were in groups of people who knew each other) and she was just standing there on her own. At the end of the day she did come out happy and had met some nice girls.
Then she started in Sept 2016 and the first term so two were a struggle for her. The girls she had met at induction drifted off pretty quickly (she said they looked at her like she was weird) then she met another girl but after a month she screamed at DD to leave her alone and became best friends with someone else and that was that. DD joined some clubs and met some other girls who seemed nice although were not into the same things as her (they love roleplaying and anime and she has no interest). She is still friends with these girls now but it is quite up and down - she seems to be very much on the outskirts like they don't notice her sometimes. She tried looking into the things they like but it just wasn't her. Then one of the girls got into a boy band and DD decided she liked them too (she's a bit bloody obsessed tbh) but the girl won't engage when DD tries to talk to her about them (just laughs and says "Oh dear I've ruined you!"). So she is in this group but not really seen like the others are (she tries to ask if anyone wants to go out and do something and gets no replies but she is desperate to see friends and enjoy herself outside of school). I'm starting to organise sleepovers with old friends just so she can socialise a bit!
In her form at school she says noone likes her. There was a problem with a group of the "popular" kids giving her stick last year but that was stamped on my the head of house - now they just ignore her as do much of the rest of the form. One girl seems to have taken a dislike to her and just nags at her "Why are you looking at me?", "Don't touch my hair" (when she isn't near her) etc etc. Just trying to intimidate her (which works easily as DD is pretty timid). She found all the kids loud and overwhelming when she first started and hated form room - now she avoids it entirely because of a club she is involved in where they help set up for assembly (she doesn't have to do it everyday but chooses to so she can get away). I suppose this doesn't help integrate her with her form but she hated them all anyway and it helped her massive anxiety just to get away. We had a chat last night and she said that she doesn't know why they don't like her. She feels she made a bad impression somehow at the start and now can't change that (although says she doesn't want to as she hates them all). Half of her lessons are affected by them giving her stick or avoiding working with her (partly I suppose because she is quiet and awkward with them). One of the girls came up to her last week (with a group of laughing friends in the background) and said "Are you lonely?", DD said "Sometimes" and the girl just walked off. DD says she is the weirdo of the class. Yet she doesn't want to leave the school, she likes the friends she has (even though they aren't the greatest of friends) and is worried about it being the same elsewhere. When we talk about moving forms she says her form is apparently the nicest in her year (all the girls get along except for her) and she is very worried about repercussions. Also she doesn't want to lose the nice teachers she has and risk getting ones she doesn't like. It's like she is becoming invisible. She loves classes where she can sit by herself.
I don't know what to do. And what is nagging at the back of my head is the fact that her younger brother is autistic (high functioning) and the therapist she saw at CAMHS 18 months ago said she had "autistic thought processes" even if she wasn't autistic.
DS starts at the school in Sept and I am worried. Will I have two children with no real friends, struggling to make their way through secondary school? I just keep wondering what I have done wrong and if there is anything I can do to fix this?
Sorry this is more of a rant than a question. Any thoughts and ideas would be appreciated though
Sorry, got nothing to add. My kids are small and we’ve not had to navigate anything like this. It must be really hard to watch.
Is there any point trying to get her to make some friends out of school? I played a sport when I was a teenager and am still good friends with some of the people I met through that. Or a Drama club if she doesn’t like sport... not everyone does.
I honestly think you should persuade her to move to another class. It sounds like things are awful with her current class and she would have absolutely nothing to lose. They ignore her or are vile to her and she hates them. I think you should speak to the head of house about it and ask if s/he could identify a class she might be happier in as i don't think things will improve with that class. They aren't going to suddenly get nicer. I don't think your dd can really know that all the other classes are worse unless it's a tiny high school and she knows everyone in each class. I would definitely seek advice from the hoh as you don't want this to carry on until 6th form but it may do if nothing changes.
You could also CC the senco and say your dd is struggling to integrate and you wonder if your dd's autistic thought processes are contributing. Flag that up too. If you get the senco on board they might be able to help her integrate with another class or provide other assistance you might not otherwise be aware of like lunchtime groups
Can’t really help any other than a hug and flowers 💐 suggest after school clubs in or outside of school sports clubs craft clubs anything that she is interested in?
My DD almost 13 and is in pretty much the same boat.
She is a lovely girl but young for her age she isn’t popular and doesn’t pretend to like girls who are nasty to her and things she has no interest in such as boys, make up, bands, tarty clothing etc. she has some friends she talks to to in class or lunch but isn’t seeing anyone outside if school at the minute.
It’s almost as though she has a neon sign on her saying avoid me like the plague I am not popular. I dropped her off this morning and in the car in front was a girl from her class I felt her heart lift when she saw her and her rush out of the car. Then I saw this girl (quite a plump girl who is probably similarly unpopular) turn her back on DD look round and attracting the attention of another girl on her own. DD rushed into school. It’s really sad but I don’t have any advice sorry only to say that your DD isn’t alone.
People can be horrible sometimes, and this age is pretty much the worst for kids being vile. Does she have social media of any sort to help her get into the "in-crowd"? Does she have any particular interests such as singing, music, horses etc? If so, could she join a choir or a Pony Club or something?
Thanks Heidi - I think you're right and we will definitely be having a chat with her head of year. Talking to the SENCO is a possibility - I'll have a think about it.
Brighteyes I'm sorry your DD is having similar problems. It's hard feeling so helpless and knowing when to help and when to just listen is a fine line!
Yawning - the thing is she doesn't want to be in the "in-crowd" which is fine as they are mainly no so nice kids. She needs to find herself an "alternative" type group I think. I was quite like her as a teen and didn't fit with the popular group but wasn't a clever/geeky type either so hang around with other middle group type of kids. She hasn't found anyone like that in her form - well not that likes her anyway! I do encourage her to join clubs but they aren't great at her school especially as she isn't sporty.
Pp have give some good advice and I would try to put some of those into practise. Things can and often do get better as teens mature so if she is determined not to move schools then don’t feel hopeless. Schools are often geared up to be comfort zones for extroverts, sporty and confident outspoken children whilst introverts and those who feel different often find them daunting. Expand her horizons, encourage her passions and interests; you can’t turn her into a popular kid but you can help her to see that there is a whole world outside of school. I would also encourage her to think about leaving after her GCSEs as sometimes you fall into becoming a character imposed on you by others so leaving allows you to reinvent yourself a bit. I wish her the best. I know how you feel OP, you are not alone.
I'm struggling to understand what she likes, other than one specific boy band, maybe. What does she do in her spare time?
Is there a list of clubs on the school website you could go through with her in case she's missed any? (If you've not already done that.) I definitely think you need to speak to someone at the school though as things sound quite bad for her with her form. I wouldn't check with her whether she wants you to do this or not, just tell them to be discreet about it
She likes art and draws a lot. She dances (but not in classes - to music videos/Just Dance). She watches a lot of videos about the boy band she likes. She is a member of the drama tech club (lighting and sound etc) at school. And she likes shopping . That's about it. Not everyone has hobbies as such though do they? She's never enjoyed sport as she's not very good at it and then people take the piss which is discouraging. She stopped going to Guides as she said people were on their phone most of the time .
Thanks Trying. Yes we definitely need to work on expanding her horizons! We just have to nudge her into it as she gets nervous trying new things by herself.
I imagine the interest in drama could do her good. Good stage hands are appreciated for lots of amateur productions. Also, sound technicians is a career in its own right & leads a person into the creative worlds.
💐 for you both, I have 4 daughters and have experienced similar. I would ask to change forms. My daughters found age 11-14 the hardest but all eventually found some good friends, although one daughter is still wary of close friends in case they drop her. My advice other than to change forms is to build self esteem at home. I'm always letting them know they have a family there for them and it's not unusual to be treated this way. Don't define yourself on the words of peers and have an inner strength and you have a happy future ahead. It happens to the best of people.
Is there somewhere communal at her school where people who are at a bit of a loose end can hang out? My daughter has some similar difficulties and she goes and hangs out in the library when she's on her own.
That's where similar kids go at her school.
When she's 13 and 1/2 she could join Explorers.
My DD was in scouts because she found guides boring, and is now in Explorers. Its brilliant , they do loads of stuff. camps, survival skills, charity work, silly games in the woods, making stuff, quiz nights, hiking, trips away ( DD is going to Italy on an adventure activity week this summer and the World Scout jamboree in USA in 2019) They certainly don't play on their phones all the time/ at all !
DD was really struggling in school last year and had self harm and panic and I can honestly say that Explorers saved her from worse. DD has her best friends from there and it's given her so much confidence. She can take or leave school friends. She has also struggled with friends who are girls as they can be so bitchy and fickle. She much prefers boys as friends.
Definitely a difficult age, my DD now 13 had this is year 7/8 being called weird as her primary friends moved on to boys and makeup and she wasn’t remotely interested. She’s quite eccentric and young in her year group. I spent quite a bit of time building resilience by reinforcing that it’s good to be different and being a sheep isn’t a good choice in life. She had other hobbies like Guides with different friend groups and then met a great friend through playing the violin who was also quite young for her age and now in year 9 seems to have found her place.
I'm struggling to understand what she likes, other than one specific boy band, maybe. What does she do in her spare time?
I think this is a really bitchy thing to say. Girls at that age don't tend to be friends just because they share the same interests, so why does it matter what the OP's daughter enjoys doing?
I'm so sorry your DD is experiencing this school can be awful can't it?
If she's 13 I assume year 9/10 these are some of the hardest years. If she is year 9 next year she will split next year for GCSE options so have a much wider variety of people to mix with.
I would suggest she spend time finding the things that she enjoys doing and then any friends that come on the back of it are a bonus. She is struggling to be social but does she really know what she likes and enjoys or is she constantly trying to 'fit in' so its not working.
I'd also look at other scout groups as they do an annual 'gang show' that sounds like it would be right up her street.
Honestly you could be describing my DD1 at that age, she had a dreadful time of it but she chased her hobbies and interests and passions. When she moved school half way through 6th form (starting A levels again) and finally seemed relaxed and happy it was like having an entirely different person in the house, it was only then I realised how miserable she'd been. She's now very happy at uni.
Good luck, I'm almost completely through the teenage years and it can't come soon enough. Even today DD2 who is 19 (also had a false start with 6th form) was having a grumble that her friendship group are arranging birthday gifts for someone in the group when they completely ignored hers. But it is January 1st so no surprise really.
Sorry to hear about your DD - Keehar said what I was going to say - encourage her to find some boys to be friends with! My Y8 DD started self harming last year - bullying/“friendship” issues the main cause. Anyway, at one point I said she needed to be open to meeting new people and just give them a chance (she thought boys were yeugh and I think she used sarcasm a lot as a defense tool). That seems to have struck a chord with her and she has picked up a few boys as friends and seems much happier - less drama and they just take her for who she is, which is great. Hope your DD soon finds her people xx
This is incredibly familiar to me, through one of mine. Similar feeling that she just got it wrong early on and is unpopular. She does have a couple of friends, and has old friends as well from before, so is not actually friendless, but it all seems very precarious. She's also absolutely lovely, with such an interesting and funny personality, it's really annoying to me that others can't see it! Similar thoughts about SEN but nothing very definite and enough social interaction to make me think that's not the issue (or rather that it isn't a solution).
My solutions are to support her hobbies, support older friendships, keep her focused on the purpose of school (to gain qualifications, not to be popular!) and tell her that her time will come, as I'm sure it will!
So hard, though, it's not clear why it doesn't quite work at all, it just doesn't. I wasn't super-popular though and I have lot of friends now.
Inthedarkdeepwinter - sounds like we have very similar girls! It is frustrating. I went to a small girls school and got on really well and wonder if I would have been the same as her if I'd ended up at a big comp. Makes me feel very guilty
Yes you're right I need to support her interests - shame she has so few. I wish I could get her into a sport but she won't join anything as she is too nervous of being rubbish and I guess at this age most people will have been doing it for ages. She is getting braver but her nervous nature does hold her back.
Bayeaux I have actually encouraged her to talk more to the boys which she has (although typically one then asked her out and she had to turn him down!).
Could you ask for advice on the staffroom talk board on this site or start a thread asking for advice from teachers on the secondary ed board? When dd was in year 7 i posted on a year 7 starters thread and someone on there was a year 7 form tutor. I had a concern and she was able to advise what to do based on her knowledge of the workings of a comp.
Dd was unlucky with the class she was in at primary school. The cool kids and their followers looked down on her and weren't that nice to her and she felt unpopular. She moved on to the local comp and ended up in a nice class. She even overheard a teacher say to another teacher that there are a lot of nice girls in the class. I think teenage girls tends to all get tarred with the same brush of being bitchy drama queens, but dd is year 9 and i dont hear of any fallings out or meanness among her friends. They are a nice straightforward bunch. Your dd's head of house might know of a class with nice girls in it that she could move to or be able to advise what to do. I wouldn't leave it as it sounds like she is quite isolated and needs some sort of intervention
Sorry your DD is going through this, OP.
I'm afraid I've not much to add. Except to say that my DD sounds similar to yours. She is only 9, but things have begun to go askew. She says she is 'weird' and I have seen her talk almost obsessively about some things and the rest of the kids in the playground not following/losing interest and walk away/tell her to shut up.
I have told her to try and listen more and become interested in what other children are interested in. She is very self-aware for her age (which I think it's part of the problem, she seems at a different development level, almost like a proper teenager) and i don't want to make a big deal of it. But I am worried because I was her when I was little, and I have issues to this day because of that.
I think both our DDs are just in a different wavelength to the majority. Not a bad thing per se, but it can make life difficult and lonely sometimes.
Worth talking to the school's SENCO? I did last year but I'm not sure I could explain adequately what's going on. It's difficult to put into words...
Poor thing, she sounds so sweet and gentle. I think it's a hard age for girls anyway, and add possible autism into the mix and it sounds like it's hard for her to navigate the waters of friendship.
I would take her to the GP again but also think about drama etc outside school. Does she socialise with anyone outside school?