08-28-2017 10:09 AM - last edited on 08-29-2017 10:18 AM by Ngaio-RO
I need some advice please. My 14 year old son is having an awful
Time in high school and says he has no friends. When he is with me he is great, I do not know what he is doing that is off putting to others. He seems to get picked on and bullied some too which I don't really understand. I mean he isn't Channing Tatum, but he is a handsome young boy. He is a little chunky, but nothing horrible. (Maybe 20 lbs overweight). He is very clean and wears nice clothes and is a fairly decent student. He isn't the best athlete but i would like to think the school isn't that shallow that unless your on a sports team you get picked on. It kills me because he says he tries to talk to people and they answer him but they never initiate a conversation with him. He gets called gay, (which he isn't) and fat and ugly and he is just so defeated. It seems there are so many kids who say stuff to him that no matter what classes he switches into there is someone making remarks to picking on him. I wish I lived in a bigger city where I had more options but I live in a small town and the other schools are not appealing to him that are local.
08-28-2017 03:57 PM
Hi @NywvmomTo2 . I am so sad to hear what is happening to your boy at school . This must be devastating for you . There is a saying " you are only as happy as your unhappiest child " , it must be so painful to watch and heart breaking for your son . Well done for reaching out to us .
My first reaction when I read your post was anger ! How dare he be subjected to such treatment at his high school . This is NOT OK , and must be nipped in the bud yesterday . Ongoing bullying can have massive repercussions and the fallout for the future can be very damaging . It's needs to be treated with the same importance and urgency as any other kind of abuse - because that's what this is . The school should have an anti bullying policy and it might be a good idea to make an appointment with the wellbeing co-ordinator as well as the Principal together . You have to be a squeaky wheel and get in their face ! They will only give it enough energy and imperative if you drive the bus and you are his strongest advocate . So phone them for updates always .
Ask them : What are your strategies for bullying ? When do they act ?
What are the consequences for children who bully and how do you protect children from ongoing bullying if it does not stop ?
Insist on a plan with measurable outcomes . Get it in writing if you have to , so you have a come back when things don't change for the better .
You need need clear verification from them that they will act on their decisions and follow through . There is often a lot of talk that goes on in the room but the follow through can be patchy, ad hoc or at its worst not implemented and can change once they hear the so called " other side " .
Document everything your son tells you , keep a record with dates , times and reactions . Bring it to your meetings . Be clear and specific .
If he is willing get him to link up with the school counsellor on an on going basis so they can keep an eye on his mental health .
Your son : Making friends .
I tell my teens who are having problems with loneliness to practice questions they can ask Kids at school .
Hey , what did you do on the weekend ?
What sort of music , movies , video games you like ?
What sport do you play , did you watch the footy on the weekend . What did you think ?
We sit and brain storm lots of different topics and style of questions .
I tell them that people LOVE talking about themselves and feel good when others show interest in them as individuals.
This may start of in small momentary increments and over time , he will build rapport and a friendship may blossom .
Tell him that shy people have difficulty initiating conversations and to find kids in the class who seem a little alone and strick up a chat . They will appreciate his efforts and quiet , reserved people can turn into the most loyal and steady friends across time .
Tell him that kids who are bullies have issues with their sense of self and their own lives and even though it may seem it's about him , it's really about them and what they have yet to learn about respect , dignity and self worth .
When he has created connections through school start to initiate those potential friends coming over , movie nights , playing video games together , swimming days etc . Anything that he enjoys doing . The more you give out the more things come back to you over time .
Get him involved in sports or activities out of school , like karate , scouts , chess club . He will meet friends there who can help to be a buffer to what is going on at school .
Best of luck , let us know how you go !
08-28-2017 06:33 PM
Hi @NywvmomTo2. @motherbear has some great suggestions there! I had a similar experience when my son was around the same age and I recall something that worked for us was that I "chose" the kids in his peer group that I could see looked like nice, kind kids & I instigated play outside of school and nurtured those friendships. I'm not sure if you have opportunity for that but if you do, perhaps that would help. I wish you the very best of luck. It truly hurts your own heart when your kids are hurting. Stay in touch.
08-31-2017 01:50 PM
Hi so sorry to hear your son is having trouble. The first thing I would do is raise this with the school. His class teachers etc. Check out the schools anti bullying policy etc. Go chat with the teachers, school counsellors etc and voice your concerns.
Your childs self esteem is important at this age. Kids are cruel. I agree get him into some after school activities. What are his interests...musical instrument, theatre groups, self defence etc. Reading clubs, computer clubs etc. Not sure what would be available where you are since you said your in a small country town.
Also find out exactly what your son has trouble with- initiating conversations? Is he shy around others, feels awkward or overwhelmed? What is it about social situations that he struggles with.
Can he go talk to a school counsellor or someone- maybe research social anxiety? I know this is a personal question but does he have an autism spectrum disorder where social communication skills might be the cause.
I ask because my son has asd but around me is fine.
Anyway all the best. All we can do is try to help our kids through things as best we can but getting to the bottom of it sometimes is like real detective work.
09-02-2017 03:11 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about your son. Every parent wants to see their children happy, interacting and engaged. I'm sure no one out there wants to feel that their child is missing out or being shunned for one reason or another.
This situation happens when the child is an "outside the box" thinker or someone who doesn't really run along with the crowd.
As we can only assume the reasons, to get a clear point I think you should talk to your child and find out what's causing the issues with the potential friendships. Or may be you can talk with someone who interacts with your son regularly(teachers, sibling, neighbours) as they may have some insight to the problem. And it's equally important to let the child know that he is not alone. Knowing that you're there to help him will make a world of difference to their outlook.
This is what I read in a blog
"The family home is where we get our bearings to the outside world, and we often follow the examples of our parents and siblings. Good manners are always appreciated so support your son or daughter in learning what is expected in the outside world.
Relationships between two people take work, especially when both people are young and finding their way in the world. With a little bit of help and a lot of support, kids who have previously had difficulty making friends can experience the joy that solid friendships can bring."
06-09-2018 08:07 PM
06-09-2018 09:11 PM
Hi @LuckyGirl2000 Welcome to Reach Out and thank you for sharing your story. It would be difficult knowing your son has no close friends, and the experience with the psychologist sounds awful. My 17 yo daughter has experienced periods of loneliness, gone through different groups of friends and at times feels like she doesn't fit into any group at school... it is really heartbreaking. There are some great resources in the Youth section of Reach Out. Click Here and Here to find some information on friendships and loneliness... (I might actually go through them with my own daughter!) Hope you find them helpful.
08-14-2019 09:34 PM
08-16-2019 10:32 AM
Hi there @Raging
Welcome to ReachOut forums and thank you for sharing what is going on with your son. It was really brave of your son to speak out about the bullying - it's sad to hear how this has impacted him though. It must be so hard for you to watch this happen for him. You sound like a loving mother, so of course this is going to impact you as well. Have you sought out any support for yourself? Maybe counselling?
As for your son, maybe joining a new club, sport or interest group would make for a good opportunity to meet new people. Also contacting an organisation such as Headspace might be good - they have support groups and counselling for young people.
08-16-2019 11:09 AM
I hope this provides some hope - my son who I wrote about nearly two years ago is now heading off to college. He was bullied throughout high school and ended up spending a lot of time alone in his room but he found a passion in computer science. He has taught himself more than a dozen programming languages and got a big scholarship to college and couldn't be more excited to find kids like himself. I think he is more resilient and worldly wise than the "popular", super social kids he graduated with.
Who says the popular scene is all it's cracked up to be, anyway?
Continue to love your child and nurture his interests - it's the most important thing! And don't be hard on yourself - you sound very caring! Good luck, God bless!