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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:15 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 7:21 pm
Posts: 9
Location: London
Trying to stay level headed about this and not get defensive or start self admonishing :? Please bear with me as I get these words out of my head on to the screen in an attempt to get a handle on them.

Signed in to email account this evening to find a message from head of year at DD new secondary indie stating that DD had written a note for her attention this morning stating how much she hates school, feels that she doesn’t fit in, she can’t do any of the work and so on. Worse still it mentioned health related incidents that I was unaware of. I feel crap obviously but put that aside to have a chat with DD before bed just to get a handle on what is indeed going on. Using some of the counselling and coaching techniques I would use at work allowed me to keep my own emotions at bay but have to admit that an hour in it was starting to get harder to keep the mom aspect from butting in. Having listed to DD, I feel less winded (I felt physically sick upon first reading the email) but of course it is about getting into the school and making sure that DD is supported through this.

First thing first tomorrow is the Dr's for sure but then taking her to school and hoping to speak with the head of year in person.

Have of course already thought of, and have mentioned it to her, that if the school is indeed not right, then it is simply not. Maybe more my panic than hers I think and yes, it really is only 6 weeks in to this totally new way of life for her....In fact, I remember feeling exactly the same way at this stage when I started my degree so I know it is a stage to be expected. The fact is she has gone from a state school where she was in the top sets/streams for all her subject and basically not being challenged much to an environment where she is feeling quite challenged and is facing work that she has not even been introduced to at primary, which others seem to be quite familiar with already seems to be getting to her. Worse still is her slowly dawning realisation that she has ridiculous (my words not hers. Over-optimistic might be more supportive a term...) expectations for self that is not quite matched by the current level of her subject specific knowledge, independent work skills, listening & information retention skills, and homework discipline.

She truly excels at sports which is one of the main drivers to get her into such a school because of the opportunities it affords. She has always been a smart child, highly creative, popular and personable, though rather stubborn and inflexible at times which I guess serves her well in certain competitive arenas. I genuinely thought, and still think, she will do well in this kind of high achieving environment but what if I have got it wrong. She has already set herself apart in sports but then the health concern has me so worried. She has so many hours of sports per week and is on the A team of both major sports which means competitions, rallies and tournaments. Six weeks in and I think she is just simply exhausted and overwhelmed. Regarding 'fitting in' this is a girl that is as familiar with high arts as she is with football and would have no reason to feel like the odd one out lifestyle dependent. In fact, though initially disappointed I was thankful she didn't end up at Woldingham as I was scared she would have ended up feeling like the scullery maid in comparison to her classmates.

I know I can do so much more to help at home too which I am not as she mentioned missing the homework help she used to receive from my late husband. In a perfect world I would be at home to see her through this first year as he only died last year, but my role is now also of breadwinner and a self-employed one at that which comes with its own challenges. I think I am going to need to cut down on work for a while because I just don't think she is feeling supported enough and that makes me feel so sad. I want her to be enjoying these early days not suffering through it all. And I most definitely don't want her getting to the end of high school feeling like the only thing she is good at is sports when that was not the case when she started. The positives are many; when we were speaking earlier she showed a high degree of self awareness and a surprising new level of maturity that I can honestly say has only started appearing since starting secondary school. This is saying something as emotionally at the best of times she is just a normal pre-teen. Difficult, abrasive, disinterested and borderline rude!

I am trying to take a macro view of the situation but I am sure I am missing something. How can I help my DD through this, and yes, how can I help myself through this too. And I can't help but worry about her health as up to now she has been such a fit, healthy child.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:43 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:49 am
Posts: 117
Location: North Lincolnshire
Hi Woodyrocks

I'm so so sorry to read that your DD is unsettled in her new school. It is probably every patents nightmare that we have made the wrong choice. However you must not be so hard on yourself. You to have been through a very difficult time and I'm sorry to hear of your sad loss of your husband.
It is good that this problem has come to light early on and hopefully with support from you, school and your daughters doctor she will get through this. Without prying into the health issue, have you considered that she may benefit from speaking with a counsellor at school or having a referral by her dr? Also places like Samaritans offer a listening service or contact can be made via the Internet by email or text message. This could be a way that she can offload problems in a safe and confidential way.
I'm sure as you say it is only 6 weeks in and can be expected as I remember feeling like this throughout my first term at uni. However the bereavement of her father may also be causing her difficulties. I really hope that you get the support you need to work through this and hope your daughter starts to feel she can cope again soon.

Take care

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:11 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:49 pm
Posts: 263
Please don't admonish yourself Woody rocks.

In everything that you have shared, your very recent bereavement strikes me as the most relevant thing affecting your daughter and then secondarily adapting to a new school.
I am really very sorry for your loss wish for strength for you and your daughter to bear it.
Without presuming too much about your situation, I'd like to share my thoughts with you.

My father died when I was in my late teens (just started uni) and I was affected in for years in ways I didn't realise until much later. I sort of lived I'm the periphery of my own life avoiding making real friendships and just happy to walk round labs on my own. My mum thought I was at uni or my part-time job, work thought I was at home and uni friends thought I was at work or at home. I was generally
At one of these three places or mostly travelling in between (they were at least 1.5 hours apart) but I didn't stay anywhere longer than necessary, so that I wouldn't/ couldn't emotionally connect with anyone.
Sorry I've gone off on a bit of a tangent, the main thing that I wanted to say is that my younger sister's grief manifested itself completely differently and she was physically ill. She did not have an eating disorder (verified by doctor) but was increasingly unable to keep whatever she ate in her stomach. Our GP suspected a psychological connection and my sister began seeing a counsellor. I think she went to see a couple before she found someone she was comfortable with.
She said that she found it easier to speak with her counsellor about certain things rather than us because speaking with mum and myself led to floodgates of sadness as we were all aware of our mutual grief and the memories all came tumbling over each other.
As you may know losing a parent means that you'll feel their absence at every significant time period in your life and I actually felt worse several months after my father's death because there's a dawning realisation that they haven't just gone away for a while which one might have experienced before, but they're never coming back.
I am not a psychologist or counsellor and my hubby would have a few choice words to say about my medical credentials from Baltimore and me setting up as a quack in amateur hour BUT I wish you and your daughter the best.

Start there.

Take care

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:42 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:12 am
Posts: 3767
Location: Berkshire
I am so sorry to read what you have been through. It must be awful for you.

Your poor daughter is suffering, and that is very hard for you on top of everything else.

I haven't really much to offer except my sympathy, and hope that with you, the school and the doctor's help, I'm sure you will get through this. It's early days at the new school, and I hope everything settles down.

At my son's school they have a 'club' supported by professionals to help children through difficult trauma such as bereavement, is there something like that at yours? It's where the children can find a safe place to talk through their emotions which they might otherwise find difficult, and help is available to them. Otherwise there are some excellent charities which can help - I think talking through this is something that will really help put everything in perspective for her.

I don't think you should be too hard on yourself either, this has been a terrible time for you - it sounds as if you are trying to do everything , and coping extremely well too .

Best wishes,


PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:28 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:05 am
Posts: 580
Poor poor you. I'm not sure where you live but winstons wish is a specialist children's bereavement service, google them, they are brilliant and have a phone service so you could chat things through etc....
I have worked in specialist CAMHS teams - child and adolescent mental health teams, and with teenagers a lot.
I would be very very pleased that your DD confided in her teacher, it shows a level of maturity and also a level of trust and attachment to her. I imagine she absolutely knew that the teacher would immediately tell you, and that you would then spring into action. Please try not to be hurt that she didn't immediately tell you. We can only imagine why but I would have a guess that she didn't want to burden you, knowing you have also had so much loss and working so so hard, it because she loves you, and because she is empathic and sensitive to that.
Chat to your doctor, see what services are around, see what the school can offer, and if I can be of any help please feel free to pm me. I have worked in these areas for over 18 years.
Thank you for sharing this with the forum. It must have taken courage. I wish you all the best, and really, I think this may be the beginning of a journey together where you can be honest with one another, and where your daughters grief can be shared all over again.
It is hard to know re school and settling.....with so much else going on......I would hold fire on any decisions about that for now....
But all any of us here can do is offer opinions, however knowledgable from a personal or professional view point, but you know your DD and it sound like you are doing everything you can to help to make this situation better. Well done you.....
Best wishes, you are in my thoughts

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:39 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
Posts: 6910
I just wanted to add my voice to those of others expressing sympathy and support here. I won't write loads as others have said very eloquently what I would try to put over, but just an extra couple of points:

- what a courageous thing for your daughter to do, to write that letter. It must have taken a lot of guts. It was probably cathartic. Bit of a shame, in my view, that the recipient emailed you rather than calling you, but still, now there is a dialogue which has to be good.

- I agree that the loss of her father must underlie this. Another one here who lost my dad young (not as young as your daughter, I was at uni) and tbh it does rock your world in ways you don't necessarily appreciate at the time. Maybe she doesn't want to admit this to you as you are obviously grieving too and she might want to try and spare you extra distress. Maybe she even feels she has to be strong for you? Doesn't want to let you down, in her eyes, by showing 'weakness' at a school you have chosen carefully for her? Have you had a good cry together? Something I have never managed with my own mother to this day but there is too much of a barrier now.

- don't blame yourself! We all do it, but that way madness lies. At least you know now, and you sound incredibly organised and together in dealing with it. (Maybe later you could share some of your techniques for not letting your own distress get in the way of listening to your child - this is something I have found impossible, to the great annoyance of my children).

-Sport. She is brilliant at it and heavily involved in it. Are you totally sure she loves it to the extent of wanting to spend so much time on it? Has she got a way out of some of it, or does she feel pressure to keep doing it as it is her 'thing', the area where she has always been noticed? Just a thought.

- You. Don't neglect yourself and your own needs to take time and space away from the dreadful situation you are in. Sorry if that sounds preachy, but I think sometimes mothers take so much on themselves, looking after everyone else, that they forget they have needs too. Be kind to yourself.

Anyway, I will stop there as not sure how helpful my ramblings will be.
Like others, just want to wish you and her the very best.
Amber x

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:53 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:45 pm
Posts: 5429
Nothing to add, but wanted to say that I am thinking of you and your daughter - wise words from the other posters. My DD was very unhappy in year 9, for completely different reasons, but it was heartbreaking and so I can understand a little of how you might be feeling. Good luck, and how lucky she is to have a supportive mother.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:09 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:26 pm
Posts: 144
Location: Manchester

Just wanted to send sympathy for this tough situation and say sorry for your loss. I don't have anything useful to add to the words of people with more experience than me except to mention that, as my username suggests, I suffer from general anxiety disorder and panic attacks. I have a very physical reaction to stress and worry - in my early twenties I was offered a brain scan because of my physical symptoms - but although they were horrible their only cause was anxiety. Perhaps this is happening to your daughter?

I know my own daughter struggled through the first term at grammar - I also remember her commenting that other people had alreadly covered stuff in maths that her school hadn't, and feeling that the teacher just took that knowledge as read. As school progresses these differences will start to even out, and when the work hasn't been covered by anyone before I'm sure your daughter will start to feel more confident.

I also think that the first term of high school is, frankly, exhausting for them. Could she focus just on one of her sports - get the confidence boost, but giving her a little more down time to just relax? Has she made friends? My daughter really only started to like school when she'd made some friends that she could go for cake with after school/sleepovers/shopping/talking utter rubbish etc.

Your daughter sounds very self-aware and open to help, I really wish you both the best. Take care.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:20 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:29 am
Posts: 32
I couldn't stop from replying to this thread, I can already see so many wise words.

I feel for you and your daughter.

First of all, please be consoled that you have a very bold and smart daughter. She has loudly sought help rather than keeping quiet which in itself shows, what ever the issues , can be resolved with the right help.

You have done everything you can, there are things in life beyond our control. As a mum you have done the best and beyond.

Apart from the bereavement , perhaps there are things that need addressing at school. It may be hard, but sometimes cutting down work hours to allow time for children / yourself for an year or so can make things better. Hope the school is not taking a defensive stand by emailing so they have all the tick in the boxes to show they followed procedures rather than extending some real help. If they are not very helpful , perhaps time to think of alternatives if the real cause of distress is the school environment, it is not the end of the world. There is no best and worst school, but the one that suits the child is the best one of all.

Perhaps time can heel, may be it is just the bereavement and the new school environment taking its toll.
Get all the help you can . You have been strong, you have come this far... Hope everything settles down soon...

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:28 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:14 am
Posts: 943
Dear Woody Rocks,
Like many others I just want to send my support and lots of virtual hugs. You sound such a lovely person and a wonderful mum, so please don't berate yourself when you are clearly doing your best in very difficult circumstances. It's good that your daughter managed to write down her feelings so that you are now in a position to work through things together. This is the beginning of making things better.

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