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How to approach drama with girls and angst/clingy messages on 11yo son’s phone?

44 replies

Greenring · 02/02/2019 09:47

My son is 11 and has always been quite dramatic and intense about things. I try really hard to model calm behaviour and healthy boundaries/relationships. He is anxious and is under the care of CAMHS who think he has ocd but have not formally diagnosed. He fancies a girl in his class and has done for quite some time. They seem to be girlfriend and boyfriend on and off quite a lot, which I have discouraged and spoken to the school about, but they haven’t noticed any issues within the classroom and said his school work isn’t affected.

I’ve just looked through the messages on his phone and there seem to be quite a few silly messages where she’s tricking him into saying he likes her then says it’s a joke, then he’ll do it to her a few days later... but he keeps asking if she likes him every few days. He mentioned in real life to me that some other people had tricked him into saying he liked her and then said it was a joke, so I don’t know whether other people had her phone or whether it was just her. It’s a recurring theme. I’ve spoken to him about it previously and partly think it’s juet a silly kid thing but it is really upsetting him.

He is coming across as really intense and desperate in these messages and I don’t know what to do about it. He also calls himself worthless whilst talking about why she wouldn’t go out with him. The girl seems to be manipulating him into saying he likes her as an ego boost and then talks about how she has been rejected so many times and perhaps they’ve both moved on... it is making me cringe and reads like something an angst filled teenager would say. But they are both only eleven.

She rants to him at one point that she gets depressed and wants to die and a falling out with another friend is making it worse. The thing is that I know she has also had long term mental health problems. I don’t think it was a serious comment but I am wondering whether I should screenshot this and inform the school.

How would you approach this? Normal kid stuff or what? His dad is like this as an adult so I don’t want my son to end up like that.

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LovingLola · 02/02/2019 09:50

To be honest with you I think I would remove his phone completely. Is that a possibility?
And yes, children talking about being depressed and suicidal needs to be brought to the attention of the school so that her parents can be informed if they are not already aware.

MerryMarigold · 02/02/2019 09:53

Are they in primary school or secondary?

guiltynetter · 02/02/2019 09:55

at the age of 11 I would definitely be removing the phone. is he year 7? he sounds like he already struggles with social stuff and the phone will be making it 10 times worse. poor thing.

rightreckoner · 02/02/2019 09:56

Yes remove phone. He’s not ready for it.

Greenring · 02/02/2019 09:57

Yes, I don’t think she meant it and it is something my son regularly says to me which used to make me panic but I have now realised he says only because he knows it will work in upsetting me and deflecting from whatever he’s being told off for!

I don’t know whether I want to confiscate the phone because he hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong or against the rules. He hasn’t been nasty or bullying etc and this isn’t just a phone issue, he’s like this when he is at school in person. His friendship group seem to be particularly dramatic and there is always something going on with some friend and so and so is now somebody’s girlfriend but last week they were going out with somebody else. It’s exhausting and I think they’re too young but I can’t ban him from talking to kids at school!

They both sent messages of a pointy finger and an ok symbol and laughing faces. I am not particularly happy about it but I imagine they think they are being very funny. I don’t want to come down too hard on him being mildly rude.

The other thing that I didn’t like was she mentioned an issue she has had with a friend of his so that he can sort it out, which he has said he will. He seems to think of himself as protecting her because he is a boy. This has happened on the playground where she won’t tell a teacher and uses him as her personal knight in shining armour. I’ve told him that he is not her bodyguard, he is not to defend her honour and she is perfectly capable of telling a teacher, as is he.

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viques · 02/02/2019 09:57

I think I would talk to her parents. You say she has had anxiety issues in the past , if she was my daughter I would want to know that she is apparently getting worried about social relationships and talking about suicide.

I also think you are right btw to check your boys phone and messages, too many kids rely on social media and the advice of other young people to navigate their way through life and its worries , and to try to achieve the "perfect" life they believe is shown on social media. They still need parental advice and real life intervention.

Greenring · 02/02/2019 10:02

The tone of the messages is generally very jokey and he is also sometimes ‘tricking’ her into saying he likes him, though I suspect if she said yes it wouldn’t have been a joke at all. He has another girlfriend too and has asked her ‘do you think I’m using her?’ because he seems to seek out drama! I’d imagine it’s because he’s still wanting to go out with this other girl and would dump current girlfriend if she agreed to it. Then she talks about how she would hurt him if he does anything to her friend etc. Ugh. He’s actually very popular and confident and has friends everywhere he goes. He makes friends very easily. I wouldn’t describe him as socially struggling at all.

Ugh. It’s like reading the cringey quotes people post on their Facebook walls.

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Greenring · 02/02/2019 10:04

Meant to say that my son says those things to get to me and camhs are aware of it but I obviously don’t know her well enough to judge so will make school aware.

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NotAnotherJaffaCake · 02/02/2019 10:05

Phone goes. Doesn't matter if he's not broken rules, he can't cope sensibly with it. Don't get involved with other child's parents, screenshot messages and inform the school. He needs some distance from these people.

zebakrheum · 02/02/2019 10:07

He's too young for all of this. Do you know the girl's parents?

Greenring · 02/02/2019 10:09

They are in primary. I don’t know how to approach it with him whether I confiscate the phone or not. I need to talk to him about it but he’s so much like a teenager and I will get eye rolls and door slams. He does still tells me lots of things and I don’t want him to stop doing that. I thought he had got the message before about not thinking it’s his job to defend girls on the playground and to let teachers know but it’s right there in black and white.

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LovingLola · 02/02/2019 10:11

An 11 year old child is just too emotionally immature to deal with these issues. And phones make it a million times worse.

Greenring · 02/02/2019 10:11

I know the girls mom a bit to talk to on the playground but she doesn’t seem to think of any of this as a problem. Her daughter has always been anxious and had problems with friendship groups etc. She has some sort of problem with being sick which was also referenced in these messages.

Even if I confiscate the phone, this drama is happening on the playground every day. I can just see it more clearly now that he has a phone too. I’ve already raised it with the school but not sure what else they can do. It feels like growing up too early but they can’t prevent it.

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Oblomov19 · 02/02/2019 10:12

Primary? OMG this is totally inappropriate. How can you not see this? Shock

colditz · 02/02/2019 10:14

Take his phone off him. Neither he nor any of his peers are mature enough to handle social media yet. Swap it for a Nintendo Switch or something so you're not punishing him for your bad judgement call on the phone.

W0rriedMum · 02/02/2019 10:15

I would limit phone use to a half hour every day. It's amazing how boring chats are when one party is offline. It'll take the heat out of it.
Also, talk to him about how everything he writes could become public, whether now, next year or at a job interview. If he can't understand the consequences, I'd remove the phone entirely.

Tahitiitsamagicalplace · 02/02/2019 10:16

Remove the phone. I had similar with my ds at the same age so I took his smart phone and he only got a new one again when he was almost 14, and mature enough. (I still keep a very close eye on his social media/DMs)

MerryMarigold · 02/02/2019 10:17

They're just re enacting a lot if the stuff they watch, like toddlers play mum's and daddies. You can't stop it at school, but you can give your child a rest from it outside school hours. The sheer relentlessness is what is so damaging to mental health. Don't say it's a punishment. You're protecting him in the same way we have allowance s for the amount of xbox time my kids get. My ds didn't have phone in primary (now y8) and my y5s won't get one till secondary either.

trockodile · 02/02/2019 10:19

I made sure that my ds told everyone that his mum might read his messages, and once or twice if a message contained swearing/angst etc would reply myself to let the caller know I had seen and was not happy! It worked quite well in calming love struck teens and useful to remind them that nothing in print can ever be considered private Grin

FlaviaAlbia · 02/02/2019 10:38

It doesn't matter that he hasn't done anything wrong. He's not mature enough and it's putting him in a horrible position he's not got the ability to handle.

missyB1 · 02/02/2019 10:43

It’s not about “confiscating” the phone. It’s about protecting your child. I have no idea why primary school children need this sort of nonsense anyway. Get the phone out of his life and find other more healthy things to occupy his time.

LovingLola · 02/02/2019 10:45

Do you check his phone history also? Is he on Instagram or other apps?

lorisparkle · 02/02/2019 10:47

My ds is an anxious and ‘needy’ child. He is also in year 6. We confiscated his phone as part of a punishment for an incident and he even said himself that he was much happier without it. He has always been too keen to be ‘liked’ which has caused problems in the past but the phone just fed these anxieties. We are now much stricter with phone use. I would remove the phone or strictly limit its use.

Hollowvictory · 02/02/2019 10:47

Take the phone away. Give him a break from this.

zebakrheum · 02/02/2019 10:48

The drama might be happening in the playground every day, but they aren't in a bubble, and they'll only be able to talk for a short time.

Having a phone where they can message one another outside school for hours at a time and re-live every conversation over and over, searching for hidden meanings, is not healthy for that age group.

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