How to help my daughter with similar issues to those I had...(4 Posts)
I'm finding this a difficult post to write, but will try and look at comments objectively and not respond defensively...!
I'm struggling to help my middle daughter. She's 10, in year 6, and we're currently in the process of going into a paediateric assessment (relief to find doctor listened to me, she and I suspect mild Aspergers).
She struggles massively with friendships and communication, has been in tears constantly over treatment from some girls in her year, doesn't understand the whole 'girl' thing that tends to start happening around year 5, with manipulation, bulllying, etc. and has always got on better with the boys - but that tends to change around year 5 and they don't play together any more. She has a lot of the more male characteristics, is bright at certain subjects but struggles with things like spelling. She finds it much easier to get on with younger children or adults, appears confident, etc. but inside is struggling with lack of confidence and self confidence, but can't really articulate any of it. We often have tears and meltdowns and we've spent a long time and much effort trying to establish ways of communcating feelings and supporting her, letting her know we're there and fighting her corner, etc., with varying degrees of success, e.g. Teddy might be able to nod or shake his head in response to a question, while she's facing the corner in tears hiding under her bed, but generally if we try to communicate on anything more than neutral, she shuts down instantly (e.g. most obvious with negative behaviours, but also when we try to communicate positive things like really good feedback from a parents' evening, etc.)
School have been variable in their response, depending on the teacher - we've had 3 shockingly awful (for her) class teachers but last year's and this year's job share teachers, as well as deputy head, are miles better and seem to be seeing/have seen 'her' much better.
However, I'm struggling because there are lots of similarities to myself and I don't really know how to help, seeing as a lot of it is bringing back a lot of my own childhood and problems I've learned to live with but not necesarily deal with.
I have Tourette's Syndrome and have some similar characteristics to those of Aspergers. I've always found it easier to get on with boys/men than girls/women, was bullied at (a girls') school, have never been good enough for my mother, for whom the sun shines out of every orifice of my brother and who still regularly reminds me that I'm fat/haven't achieved anything much/am oversensitive to things, have huge body confidence issues and lack self-confidence, but the characteristics I display through nervousness and anxiety mean I talk too much and people presume I am over-confident and loud, whereas in fact I am panicking inside and want to hide away, I just don't manage to get that from my brain to my mouth. ;-) I've always got on okay with most people but rarely developed really close friendships with girls/women and struggled because I always wanted to, but have never been the sort of person people want to develop that sort of relationship with, which mostly I live with, but still hurts and gets overwhelming at times. I want to be sefl-sufficient and manage on my own, but really I crave friends around - and I think DD2 is very similar, it just doesn't really happen with either of us.
I have seen various counsellors over the years and made various progress, but my daughter having the problems she's having means that the things I thought I'd dealt with enough to keep me going, are now surfacing in such a way that mean I know I probably haven't dealt with them enough to help her.
My heart breaks for her and I don't want her to feel like I did throughout school, feeling that I was on my own, that I wasn't really liked and that I didn't have close friends, not good enough and a failure (pressure that I know I still put on myself). She will often, in the course of tears, say she's not good enough, that she's rubbish at everything, that she always lets people down and messes everything up, even though those are things we've always tried really hard and been careful not to portray to her. (She's incredibly fixed mindset!)
I'm trying really hard to find ways to help her, but I guess it's all quite close to home and therefore I'm struggling to work out ways to give her the tools she needs to get her through, to grow and start to soar with her own rooted confidence, not a superficial one.
DD1 is 15 and seems to be generally beautifully sorted, level, quietly confident, older than her years and we have a lovely, open relationship; I can tell when there's something up, we talk, we're friends as well as parent & child. DD3 is 8, hilarious, will always attention seek and want more ("Look at me! Look at me!"), is often full on and draining but is incredibly loving - in a very in-your-face kind of way! ;-) They're all gorgeous girls, bright, sensitive and caring, but I feel I'm missing something with DD2, some sort of communication, or way of helping her to flourish and see herself for the truly beautiful person that she is.
Would really appreciate thoughts and ideas from people. If I reply that we've already tried that, I'm not trying to be negative, we truly have, but I really want to try and find ways to help her and really need some help and new ideas, please xx
Dear havei, just wanted to post to say you are definitely not alone in this and if you wanted to ask mnhq to repost this in SN children you would probably get lots of replies from people with ideas.
We have a similar (younger) child in our extended family and so I get what the issues are. I don't have any helpful suggestions other than to find time every day to be physically affectionate with your dd if she is ok with that (e.g. Hugs) -
And to find something genuine to praise every day. I am sure you are already doing both these things!
I also just wanted to say you sound like a lovely caring mum and your dd is lucky to have you in her corner
Thank you Redhead. & I'll try posting in the SB bit too.
The physical affection with DD2 always needs to come from her - the other two are generally really affectionate, but I've always felt I should ask DD2 if she'd like a hug, etc. She can sometimes be cuddly, but it's always for short periods and it has to be on her terms, if I (or anyone else) try to offer a cuddle, hug, hand, shoulder, etc. that she hasn't instigated, she'll generally refuse it, although I think she often wants contact, just doesn't really know how to deal with it, or thinks she's not allowed it or whatever. I try and encourage her that's it's fine if she would like a cuddle but also fine if she doesn't, that I still like having cuddles with Daddy or any of them, you're never too old, etc. The odd show of affection from her is therefore a huge step and means a lot :-) I'm not sure how much of it is that she's not comfortable with the physical contact and how much of it is that she just doesn't know how to handle it, etc. Hopefully we may get a bit more info on this once she's referred, etc. & she's really uncomfortable if you praise her! We keep trying gently though with both - I just want to scoop her up in my arms and hug her til it's all better, but it doesn't work like that, does it?!
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