08-18-2016 05:39 PM
My son (14) said to me yesterday that he has no friends at school and he is lonely. I was almost in tears when he told me he feels he has no friends - watching him as his heart broke when he told me, I don't know how to fix it - I want to fix it for him.
When he comes home from school, all he wants to do is play x-box. He was in tears yesterday because he doesn't like his school - I know he struggles in some classes and doesn't cope well in the school system.
I am so very afraid he is depressed , it's something I've struggled with... We have had him at numerous counsellors and doctors and there is nothing more they can do.
I want me happy lil man back, I am severely worried about him.
08-19-2016 05:08 AM
It's excruciating to watch when they have no friends isn't it? I completely relate to your wanting to "fix it" for him. My son went through a similar experience when he was "evicted" from his friend group for perceived transgressions(!) He was very lonely but we worked on a few different things and he got through it (I'm still recovering from the stress )
There's some great advice on making friends on the ReachOut youth site which I'd encourage you both to read.
I'm concerned where you write "We have had him at numerous counsellors and doctors and there is nothing more they can do." Can you talk a bit more about those experiences? i.e. did they diagnose depression and/or anxiety? Did they suggest medication and/or seeing a psychologist?
I know you are worried; I really hope it's just a temporary thing. I understand that he just wants to play computer games if he doesn't have anyone to hang out with. At this age it's so hard because we want to protect them but we also want to make sure they are learning skills to find their own solutions and make their own informed choices.
You are helping him by being there to listen and letting him know he is loved.
08-19-2016 05:23 PM
08-19-2016 07:51 PM
I feel sorry for your son @johneriffic and you as well.
I guess this did not happen in one day, how did he slip into this state? Have you reflect upon his history with him?
If school is the problem, you might consider change school. I do have a friend who said that the best thing his mother did was to pull him out of a school where he was bullied by a teacher and then fellow students.
I understand that both of you might be too upset and too emotional yet it is always helpful if you could try to put aside your emotions for just a short period of time and analyze your situation. Some professional help might facilitate your understanding of the current situation.
08-22-2016 03:00 PM
08-24-2016 09:58 PM
Your email struck a cord.
My daughter also is lonely, finds it difficult to connect with other teens in a school environment. Due to an extreme anxiety condition, she hasn't been to high school for two years. We have a treatment team around us, but just one genuine friend would make a big difference. The problem is, teens are undergoing extreme changes in physiology, technology, learning and relationships within a school system that is anything but flexible or tailored towards individuals.
The school my daughter attended was ill equipped to deal with my girl's anxiety triggers and before we knew it, she was too behind and cut off from friendships that it became a toxic environment.
I don't regret 'pulling the plug' on that school. I see now there are many different ways for her to gain an education without being made to suffer that intensely for it. Some of our kids are not built for this mold.
My other kids did well at high school, but, high school is full of teenagers. Let's be honest here, they can be up and down, mixed up, volatile, reactionary and thoughtless. For some teens, struggling already, it's a toxic environment which can tip them from coping one minute to utter despair the next.
There are schools out there, and services available that can help and support your son's continued education. But look very carefully at your school now. Right now. How long and how many phone calls does it take for the Principle to see you for an extended appointment? Does he listen? Does he ask you how he/ she can help? Does he have a list of services he can call on to support your sons continued and successful education? Often, individual teachers are amazing, but if they are not supported by the principle, there is little they can do. The Principle sets the school's tone. If your child is important to him, he will be important to all the staff. My girl was not, she was an annoyance, a blip, an anomaly. His response to her panic attacks was to call ambulances and have her carted off to hospital, or have office staff call me to collect her.
Look for a school that has lunchtime clubs, often friendships are easier for our kids to form if the activities provide shared interests.
A bit of struggle in teenagerhood creates resilience, I'm all for that. It needs to be balanced with concern that at such an age, your son is not overwhelmed. Historically, teens were already set by age 14 into a role, my father was an apprentice to a boilermaker, my mother was working a dairy farm with her father, taking her siblings to school, then entered nursing to be put on wards, not in a classroom like we do now. I think our kids are too much in their heads, forced to interact for extended periods of time in a competitive environment almost entirely of an intellectual nature.
No wonder some kids are overwhelmed. Not because they are weaker, unintelligent, have learning difficulties, family problems or whatever. But because high school is an artificial construct that subscribes to one size fits all. And if it doesn't fit? Then it's our kids that are broken?
Teenage boy's brains Keep changing and developing into their twenties, yet they are expected to have a persona to project in school, to fit in, be part of the pack. Differences are not rewarded, not by most of the student body. Most teens just want to make it through the day at school with out something embarrassing happening. So, my advice, balance. An interest outside and away from school .fun but not competitive. To remind him that school is not real life.
Contact MIND, which has real face to face groups and activities for both him and you. Find out what resources are available to your son through school, maybe contact an educational psychologist for an assessment. Check out other schools, consider TAFE, look for camps for teens during school holidays that build social connections with like minded teens. Give him one on one time with you once a week, scheduled in, do something that interests you both, that he would find difficult to approach without you by his side. Have you ever climbed a wall at a rock climbing Centre? Would your son enjoy seeing his dad trying something out of his comfort zone? I'm planning to take my girl horse riding, knowing it's going to kill my back, and that a middle aged, nervous, unbalanced women is going to make the experience for her memorable, not because her anxiety will cripple her, but because she will be so engaged with the ridiculousness of my situation, she will have her energies set on 'getting Mum back alive'
Its giving her a memory and an achievement in one. I hope it reminds her to focus on good times, to balance out the bad.
Mostly, remember, extraordinary people, the movers and shakers, cultural leaders, quiet, dedicated people who change the world for the better, they were our kids, our misfits, who didn't fit the mold. It's ok to be different, it's a blessing for humanity that these kids don't follow the herd. Churchill sufferered from depression all his life, Bill Gates changed the way we interact with the world, spends billions of dollars of his and others money to eradicate malaria, you can bet he was the biggest nerd in high school, and there are plenty of more identifiable people who achieve much despite high school not because of. Do your research. He may not see a future because he does not identify with the teens around him. Show him the world needs people just like him.
Sit down and watch the recent documentary on Tony Robbins, an extraordinary man who hid who he was in high school, and has achieved amazing success and personal satisfaction in his private life. Simply because he was different and used his non herd gifts in an unusual and extraordinary way. I'm not a fan, nor have I read his books or listened to his podcasts. But wow, the doco was riveting.
Love from mum and dad is great, but extraordinary kids do need some extra help sometimes, until they are ready to 'take it from here' look for outside help, build a team around your boy, provide him opportunities to make decisions about what's best for him, be prepared to accompany your extraordinary boy through an extraordinary life.
08-25-2016 12:28 PM - edited 08-25-2016 12:29 PM
Hey @ChilliDawg, I love this post... Thanks for putting so much thought into it - there is so much in there that I want to reply to that I don't know where to start!
School is definitely difficult for some - when someone doesn't click with the school system they might thrive in another environment, it';s awesome that you gave it all your time and energy to find other paths where your daughter might thrive. You obviously have a big heart and make decisions in her best interest.
I do love this, especially: "Mostly, remember, extraordinary people, the movers and shakers, cultural leaders, quiet, dedicated people who change the world for the better, they were our kids, our misfits, who didn't fit the mold. "
Hope to keep seeing you around - you could introduce yourself here or tell us how you encourage your daughter to open up, here.
See you round the forums!
08-25-2016 05:48 PM
That was a top read @ChilliDawg! Some great words of wisdom for @johneriffic.
And I read it all. Like your daughter I had no friends at 14. I used to catch buses all day rather than face the snooty bitches at the private school where I had won a scholarship.
I would like your daughter to know that she doesn't have to always be defined as The Girl Who Had No Friends. I'm a great fan of fake it till you make it. I used to fake that I was this funny, engaging, outgoing person. And people liked her a lot!
I so agree with your statement about trying to make everyone fit the mold. I so didn't fit. I left school at 15 and went back to TAFE for a year 10 Certificate at 20. At 28 I got into Uni as a mature age student. I've been pretty much entrirely fabulous ever since! (I might be exaggerating a bit there).
I wonder what adventures await your daughter and @johneriffic's son. If we can get them through this horrible teenage loneliness, if we can continue to offer them unconditional love and acceptance, in all likelihood we'll see their fabulous blossom!.
08-26-2016 05:25 PM
Wasn't it just @Mitzi!
The teenage years are just really tough and uncomfortable for some - especially the misfits, and once you have the chance to seek our your 'tribe' or where you belong with people who 'get' you... not just because you happen to live in the same area or go to teh same school... Then life really changes in an amazing way.
Just have to support them through this time...
Thanks all... I love this conversation
09-06-2016 12:01 AM
I hope your son has some supportive and helpful options now, since you first posted.
When I was 14, there was alot of stuff going on in our family, which was super stressful, not to mention new school. So I was pretty lonely and tried to fit in. I found interests, I gave things a go - sometimes with hilarious results, as I wasn't a fast swimmer or athlete back then, but hey, I gave it a go which showed a willing and tenacious spirit!
I think I suffered from depression, even though i was into music at high school and art. and you know, alive. I say *think* cos I never got help or support, my parents never talked to me, and teachers never had the focus on mental health in those days (not that long ago!!). I did almost make some choices I would have regretted, but I always tried to understand life and it would have been good to have answers or know where to go. I had to go through it all myself.
As a parent, make sure you engage your teen in family activities and outings. Have fun with them, all together. Enjoy life, talk about current affairs, pull the family togehter, have solid values at the centre of your hub.
Make em feel they belong to a family that no, isn't perfect, and all these emotions are okay, but we are here for each other. I'm your parent, and I will keep you safe. I will guide you and my job is to grow you up into a healthy, happy, confident young person!
It's what I said to my oldest, and even though she now has it a bit tough, and she's had a bout of depression, I hope it has helped her build her own resilience and future life.
The youngest who's a young teen, well, as long as mum's his greatest fan, and he knows he can count on my support and we keep the channels of communication open - he knows I expect him to learn to become a responsible lad.
I'm still getting used to this online forum format, and I hope my extra rant didn't detract from the initial poster's question. You sound like you are doing a great job with your son and getting him support as well as your input as parent. I look forward to your update.