So frustrated with - yet heart aching for - DD (13) who just can't seem to make and keep friends

(20 Posts)

DD is 13 and in year 8. Friendships have always been a slightly tricky area (not helped by her having Attachment Disorder) but since going to Secondary school and especially now in year 8 she always seems to be the third person in a world full of pairs or friends. She is also her own worst enemy at times - she over reacts, argues and gets easily frustrated with people so quite quickly falls out with her friends. Every day at the moment feels like I'm in a teen soap opera. All her accounts of the day (every aspect) are full of hyperbole and exaggeration and she clearly inhabits a world where even people 'looking at you' wrongly is some kind of grave offence. She'll have one better day and then down it all tumbles again and I am fairly emotionally worn by it all.

Anyone else facing the same? Can we stand firm together...? How much do you react to and how much do you just listen, make the right noises, sympathise and try to move them on...? When does this start to improve?!

Or has your daughter made it through the other side...? Do they eventually find good, strong, sustainable friendships? Some support or reassurance would be great to hear right now sad MPD

MrsMeeple Tue 06-Nov-12 21:27:45

My DC aren't teenagers yet, but your D sounds like me at that age. I was an outsider through most of my school time, was bullied and remember screaming at my Mum that I had no friends... But somehow I fit in much better in my extra-curricular activities. At Guides I was popular, and theatre group. Does your DD get the chance to interact with different social groups, not just school?

Dededum Tue 06-Nov-12 21:28:42

I have an 11 year old boy who like your daughter overreacts and takes things to heart. He can make friends but then loses them just as easily.

He has just started at secondary school and I was expecting the worse. I have taken the attitude of:
- listen, but no telling him what do
- when I catch him doing something right, ie: not overreacting then I make a bit fuss about him making a good choice.
- generally reminding him of the good choices that he has made
- not expecting too much of him

Slightly different as DS1 not yet a teenager.

Thank you both. Yes, she is happy, secure and well-liked at Guides and also at our church within the youth group and wider church family. I think she yearns for a best close friend but approaches it by trying to attach herself to an existing pair - not to split them deliberately or anything, just because she wants to be a part of the close friendship she observes. But then she is destined to either always be on the outside of the established pair or causing friction and gets accused of trying split friends up. She can be fairly intolerant at school, arguing and clashing with particular classmates who then turn on her. This can then tip into bullying, though I am very careful not to 'cry bully' too quickly. Her Attachment problems make everything even more complicated, which her secondary school completely do not understand. Her primary school understood her foibles very well and she had very good support in negotiating friendships. I look on and see her - metaphorically - all at sea, but far enough out for me to not assist her with any great effect. I just look on, and hurt on the inside sad MPD

MrsMeeple Tue 06-Nov-12 21:46:15

Oh MissP. Sounds so hard for you, on the outside watching. Not sure what to advise, the only thing I can think of is to encourage the good friendships she has, and see if you can invite friends from where she is popular around to spend more time with her.

Visualarts Thu 08-Nov-12 07:05:12

Yes this does sound so hard - my sympathies. There is a book called something like a smart girl's guide to friendship troubles, which might have some useful tips for your dd about how not to fall out with friends (so much!) It is very encouraging that she is popular at guides, church etc - is there a potential best friend there who you could invite round, encourage cinema trips with etc? That way also dd isn't encroaching on an established school close friendship - but would have a best friend to call her own until one has developed more naturally at school?

CuttedUpPear Thu 08-Nov-12 07:12:31

This is hard. but not the end of the world. My DS is the same. He's 15 now.
For his 13th birthday I got him a rescue dog, to be his friend. It really worked, she is the most important thing in his life. It was big compromise for me but I'm so glad I did it.

I've now taken DS out of school because he felt so isolated and was sometimes bullied there.
He is now mostly at home with his dog, learning online or with me, and he is so much happier.

There is a place in the world for the hermits, the loners, the eccentrics, and our children will all turn out to be vastly different characters with something to give.

NewFerry Thu 08-Nov-12 07:16:20

No advice, but recognise my DD in your description of your daughter.
Hope it goes better soon x

I wish that too Visualarts - sadly, it is getting worse as the week goes on sad - Now DD has managed to fall out with one of her good established friends. Oh why are they so horrid to each other? Tonight she has has a text from this girl saying 'Dont you dare ever talk to me again' and an email saying much the same, though a bit more diatribe with it. I'm just glad DD is prepared to show me texts and emails. I want to go into school tomorrow, takes this girl by the scruff of the neck and give her a bloody good shake, but apparently that frowned upon these days... DD says the cause for this fall out is that her friend says DD told another girl that she (friend) is going to a concert and she (friend) did not want the other girl to know. DD denies this, other girl says DD did not tell her, friend still refuses to talk to DD. God alive give me strength! They are so horrid and so silly and so immature and makes me want to weep. MPD

Visualarts Fri 09-Nov-12 06:41:37

Oh poor you and your dd, that does sound absolutely awful. do you think that argument might melt away as quickly as it started - it sounds as though it might?
On a more long-term note, I wonder if friendships are easier if they're based on a shared interest like being in a sporting team, a choir etc? This is just speculation - i can see in some ways not, as there mey be that element of competitiveness - but on the other hand at least it gives the girls a focus. anyway, do you think you could encourage your dd to take up another activity like that which would give her another source of friends? In the meantime I would say keep up the non-school activities like guides etc - they sound as though they could be a bit of a lifeline at the moment!
Good luck, I hope things have calmed down today..

BensonBunny Fri 09-Nov-12 06:54:47

I really feel for you misspolly. My DD really struggled with friendships for her first two years at secondary. She had an understanding form tutor but it was a difficult two years. Her school has a small intake in year 9 and also mixes up the form groups at this point and that made a huge difference. She now has the longed for best friend, is part of a group of 6 girls who are very close and looks on at other girls having friendship problems with great relief that she has come through it and now feels secure in her friendships. I mainly offered sympathy and social interaction advice, talking to her now just having support and understanding at home was the most useful thing we did.

Snog Fri 09-Nov-12 07:03:40

One potential solution is for your dd to hang out with the boys instead. This has worked well for various friends' dd's.

WofflingOn Fri 09-Nov-12 07:10:09

If she's fine with guides and her church group, I'd go down the path of friendships based around a mutual activity or hobby as she seems to be able to manage friendships in that scenario. It gives a structure to follow, and things to talk about.
Some children can be very unkind and manipulative, but others just want friendships to be uncomplicated and easy, and if another person is seen as being hard work and unpredictable, or very needy, then they just don't want that level of hassle.
In primary, they are still so young it is easier for adult intervention to work as they are used to being guided. By the time they are teenagers, their peers set the rules most of the time.

Visualarts Fri 09-Nov-12 07:10:41

Bensonbunny what specific advice did you give your dd about social interaction? And are there any particular bits of advice that your dd says she found particularly useful? (all of it, obviously! But was there anything she particularly remembers?).
MPD, hope things calm down a bit today. BB's experience is encouraging- yes there can be light at end of tunnel! School is an intense place sometimes - much more so than many workplaces for adults, i think. And being able to text and e mail doesnt always help because they can read/reread angry texts instead of the impact gradually fading.

Bunbaker Fri 09-Nov-12 07:12:42

"Anyone else facing the same?"

I feel your pain. DD is in a similar situation regarding always being the spare part in a threesome. Temperamentally she sounds more timid than your daughter, and isn't argumentative at school (as far as I know). I hate it when girls fall out at this age, but DD says that most of the girls fall out with each other at some time in her class (she is year 8 as well). DD's problem is that a girl in her class decided to sabotage all the new friendships she made and DD felt very isolated. She has managed to get round this by seeking new friendships with other girls in her year who aren't in her class.

The year 8 learning mentor who deals with this type of thing says that year 8 is a tricky one and that things tend to settle down in year 9. The classes get split up more in year 9 and I am going to ask if DD can be placed in different teaching groups from her tormentor.

I did something I would not ever normally do yesterday and sent a text to DD's friend's mum. I don't know her and I've never met her but we had her number from when the friend came for a meal for DD's birthday last month. I text saying that we were aware there was something going on but that we couldn't quite get tithe bottom of the issue and also that her DD(friend) had been texting and emailing since school ended so we wanted to ensure that she was alright. We also made it very clear that our DD did not know that we were contacting her (I hope and pray that she has been discreet with her DD too - above everything else). We got this text back:
'Hi. (friend) had become very fond of DD, but over the past few weeks I have become concerned over how upset (friend) has been getting over DDs treatment of herself and others at school. DD is creating problems between (friend) and other girls in the group and (friend) feels DDs behaviour is unkind and following DD betraying a confidence she has decided that this is what she wants to do to deal with it. (friends mum)'

Bit ouchy. Especially as I know this mother has never met DD. I have met her daughter and can therefore base DDs account of her day on some experience of meeting this girl previously. We replied politely:

'Ok that's fine. DD has always struggled with social interactions (because of her special needs) and she is still learning - it is painful for her but she will have to learn the hard way. Please ask (friend) to be patient and I will talk to DD about giving (friend) space and think more before speaking. thanks.'

I know it was perhaps unwise, but it was partly to ensure that this friend mum knew that something was going on and specifically that text and emails were coming to DD from her daughter. I think young teens use social websites etc so recklessly and without any thought, or very vindictively. While I don't intend to do this again I don't think and while I hope and pray it does not backfire on DD I stand by the decision to text her, however painful the response. Have spoken with DD about lots of aspects. And suggested she gives (friend) a wide berth for a while. Now all I can do us hope and pray that (friend) softens and reinstates a friendship with DD. I know that DD is not innocent I this - and she has accepted with me some responsibility for her part - but it's just Di hard to stand at the sidelines and watch her struggle sad

Thanks for your support. It is so helpful to not feel so alone with this. MPD

Visualarts Fri 09-Nov-12 19:32:52

Mpd is the school giving your dd any help with social skills etc, as she has special needs? Have they been involved at all, and do you think that might help?

BensonBunny Sat 10-Nov-12 23:17:33

Hi, sorry for the delay in replying. My advice to my DD was mainly around trying to see situations from others perspective and thinking before she speaks. She also has never had problems with out of school friendships but there is something about the intensity of school that seems to cause problems. She wears her heart on her sleeve and is completely incapable of being subtle but she is learning to think before she speaks now.

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Visualarts Tue 13-Nov-12 22:40:51

Uh oh, what happened here?
Thanks benson bunny, i have only just returned. That sounds good advice. I think some dcs also need to have it explained how other dcs will feel - it's not something they are naturally attuned to, so you just have to say 'take it from me!'
Mpd, hope things are going ok this week,

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