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  1. #10581
    Best Buddies Gutmutter's Avatar
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    It is a difficult transition for some kids. I'm a middle school teacher. Instead of one teacher he now can have as many as 8 in a day - all with different expectations. He may be starting to mature, or feel that he's not maturing as fast as his friends. There may be sex going on around him that he's uncomfortable with (or at least the talk about it). Older students may be bullying the younger students. An old grade school friend may be finding other friends besides him. He may be feeling overwhelmed by the work. Has he given you any indication about what's going on? I've done a lot of studying about the adolescent brain... it is developing faster now than any other time after infancy. There are some great books out there on the subject. Good luck!
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  2. #10582
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by Gutmutter View Post
    It is a difficult transition for some kids. I'm a middle school teacher. Instead of one teacher he now can have as many as 8 in a day - all with different expectations. He may be starting to mature, or feel that he's not maturing as fast as his friends. There may be sex going on around him that he's uncomfortable with (or at least the talk about it). Older students may be bullying the younger students. An old grade school friend may be finding other friends besides him. He may be feeling overwhelmed by the work. Has he given you any indication about what's going on? I've done a lot of studying about the adolescent brain... it is developing faster now than any other time after infancy. There are some great books out there on the subject. Good luck!
    Thanks Gutmutter. Middle school actually works slightly differently where I am than most places I am familiar with. It covers grades 5-8, and for 5th and 6th grade they don't switch classes independently of other students. Like grade school, he is with the same group of kids throughout the day although there is a much greater expectation for them to manage their own work this year. Fortunately I also don't think bullying is an issue. Our schools do a very good job preventing bullying and I have pressed him to talk about it and I believe him when he says he doesn't feel bullied. I think that there are a number of things going on though:

    (1) He is definitely feeling the stress of the work. That aspect I think has actually improved a little as the year has gone on, but there are still days when he get a bit overwhelmed.
    (2) Unfortunately when he started school this year, NONE of his friends were in his class. Instead of making new friends like he has in the past, he has isolated himself. He claims that the boys in his class this year are "troublemakers" and says he just isn't interested in being friends with them. However, he does see his old friends "moving on" and making new friends in their classes. This combination makes him feel ignored and left out. He feels like no one acknowledges him and that he is "invisible" all day long. I can see what he means in this respect. Last year when he walked into a room he always had friends that would light up and be so happy to see him. He was always laughing and joking with someone. This year he walks into a room and no one says anything. I volunteer pretty regularly with his class and other classes in his grade, so I have seen this first-hand. At my first parent/teacher conference his teacher actually told me she thought he was a new student because he is so quiet - he has been going to school with this group of kids since preschool. It has gotten to the point where he dreads going to school each day.
    (3) The generalized worrying he is doing makes him feel disconnected from his friends. He feels "different" and like he doesn't belong and he thinks no one else is going though this. Of course, I have told him that is not the case, but I'm mom so he just thinks I'm trying to make him feel better.
    (4) He is having a hard time not obsessing about the worries that he has. It is especially bad when he needs to go to sleep and has nothing else to occupy his mind. He worries endlessly about how bad the next day is going to be. This is resulting in poor and/or not enough sleep.

    I am hoping the medical group I was referred to gets back to me soon. I know he needs to talk to a therapist to develop some coping strategies and learn to differentiate between things he should be worried about versus worries that are irrational or things he has no control over.
    Last edited by ClosetRTWatcher; 02-07-2012 at 03:47 PM.

  3. #10583
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    I don't know you, but I feel bad for both you and your son. Is it possible for you to allow your son to invite some of his old friends that he is missing on an adventure of some sort? Maybe go to a park and camp out, or an amusement area? I suppose options are more limited at this time of the year, but it might help him to reconnect if he and a few others do something memorable together. It'd give him something to look forward to, and to reminisce about after. Try to tell your son that it may feel like his friends have moved on, but once he's back in the mix with them again in later years, they will pick up right where they left off. And that's true. He'll see this play out over and over when he gets into high school. The most important thing is to show appreciation and respect for your friends - they'll never forget you no matter how many other friends they make along their way, and they'll be more likely to keep in touch with you after graduation, too. Hugs to you both.
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  4. #10584
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Middle school sure is a difficult time. It can be kind of a culture shock from elementary school. Does he have any interests that he might pursue as extra curriculars, or is he just painfully shy?
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  5. #10585
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    My youngest son's middle school experience was nightmarish for him (and for my husband and me).

    He spent his years in pre-school through 5th grade in a special ed class for kids with unspecified learning disabilities. He always had friends in our neighborhood attending the same school, and got to see them and hang out with them at lunch and recess every day. They were an important part of his school life.

    In middle school he was not only separated from them, but was taunted for needing learning support. Some of his friends joined in on the taunting. He was miserable. By his second year he was verbalizing suicidal ideation and we got him into therapy.

    Therapy helped a lot. We had him transferred to another school, though, because we got zero to little cooperation, support, or understanding from our district's middle school staff and administration. While they were quite worried about suicidal ideation, they could not seem to connect it to the social difficulties our son was having while under their care. At home, he was fine. They felt, however, that social adjustment is a big part of the middle school experience and their policy on it was totally "hands off."

    My son's disability is a memory impairment resulting from infantile myoclonic seizures. His measured IQ is over 140, though, and he did develop successful compensatory attention and study skills. He'll be 30 this year and enjoys life.

    But he would tell you that his middle school years were the darkest days of it thus far.

    I would strongly advise that you strive to keep communication wide open with your son. What he's going through might actually involve some shame/humilation as well as a sense of loss (as it did for my son) which can make this subject difficult to talk about. Keep him talking to you, help him stay connected with his friends, and definitely find the right phychological intervention for him. You are his most dependable and powerful resource right now. Be confident in your ability to help him weather this, and he will be more hopeful about it.

    My thoughts and praryers are with you as you navigate these rough waters with him. Stay strong!
    Last edited by Poppy Fields; 02-16-2012 at 10:05 AM.
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  6. #10586
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Thanks for sharing your story Poppy!

    I have been getting really frustrated over the last couple of weeks trying to get him an appointment to see a therapist. I have been jumping through hoops of insurance, referrals, wait time, etc. Earlier this week he made a remark one morning about how if he was injured he wouldn't have to go to school and I was very alarmed. I called the medical group where I was trying to get an appointment AGAIN to stress that we needed to get him seen. I was told that if there was an imminent risk to his well-being then I needed to take him to the emergency room. Shouldn't there be some kind of happy medium between the emergency room and getting him in to see someone in a reasonable amount of time!?

    Anyway, the good news is that referrals finally got where they needed to go, and insurance approvals have been made. The center had a cancellation yesterday and I was able to go in for the initial parent-only meeting that they requested. My son has been set up for an appointment next week. I am really looking forward to getting him in to talk to someone that can help him realize that it is possible for him to be happy again.

  7. #10587
    Best Buddies Gutmutter's Avatar
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    So glad to hear things have progressed with therapy. Please keep us up to date on how he's doing. I'll be thinking of you both.
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    I'm so happy to hear that you were able to get approval for the counselor, ClosetRTWatcher. I truly hope this is exactly what your son needs. I can only imagine how helpless you feel.

    My cousin's oldest is bullied by several boys at school. He's autistic and these nasty kids use it against him. He's very gullible, so one day they're really nice to him and pretend like they want to be his friend and then the next day are really mean to him. It's heartbreaking to see him so hurt and confused. Luckily, he has a counselor at school who is very good and is totally tuned into him and the principal and his teacher are working to resolve the problem. I, on the other hand, want to get those two boys in a room and knock their heads together. His last school was a Waldorf school, where they don't do anything about bullying. That was 100 times worse. They claim that they don't intercede when there's bullying because the kids are working out their karma or some b.s. like that.

    Maybe I'm being naive (and maybe it's because I didn't get bullied as a kid), but it seems like bullying is SO much worse than it was when I was growing up. There were a few kids who got teased at my school, but it was nothing like it is now.
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  9. #10589
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by Critical View Post
    His last school was a Waldorf school, where they don't do anything about bullying. That was 100 times worse. They claim that they don't intercede when there's bullying because the kids are working out their karma or some b.s. like that.

    Maybe I'm being naive (and maybe it's because I didn't get bullied as a kid), but it seems like bullying is SO much worse than it was when I was growing up. There were a few kids who got teased at my school, but it was nothing like it is now.
    That is appalling that they would not intervene in a bullying situation. Are they blind to the news reports of young kids who have committed suicide after being bullied!?!?

    I definitely remember bullying in my schools, especially in middle school. By the time high school started I think most people were so self-absorbed they didn't have time to bother the other kids so much.

    We currently live in a fairly small town, so the kids go to school with mostly the same group from K through 12. They have a zero tolerance policy with regard to bullying and they start talking about bullying with the kids in kindergarten. The kids all know what bullying looks like and are told they need to report it if they witness it. I have honestly never talked to a parent in this town who has had a problem with bullying. One of my older boys *once* told us about an offensive remark directed at him from another student early in middle school. We found out that there was something serious going on with the kid who had said it and a parent meeting was even called, but sometime before the meeting it was called off and the kid was removed from the school.

    My point is that I think whether or not bullying occurs depends on the school and maybe even the district. It really takes a lot of focus on the part of the school as a whole to develop a culture in which bullying is not tolerated.
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  10. #10590
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by ClosetRTWatcher View Post
    That is appalling that they would not intervene in a bullying situation. Are they blind to the news reports of young kids who have committed suicide after being bullied!?!?
    Apparently, they are. Before my cousin finally transferred him and his younger brother to another school, it came to the point where my aunt volunteered as a playground "parent" so that she could watch out for him. Since she wasn't a teacher, she couldn't reprimand a child (especially when the school didn't punish bullies), but she would put herself between the bullies and the potential bullied kids. It was sad how many parents thanked her because their children felt safe on the playground. So, someone's grandmother was protecting them when the school did not.

    Maybe Waldorf works for some people, but I was completely unimpressed with the entire thing. My aunt commented one day that "They're afraid of math" and I asked her if she meant the kids and said "No, the teachers." Seriously. One of the teachers actually said that. Now, I'm not a math whiz, but I'm not paid to teach it to children. By the time my cousins were transferred out, they were about a year behind. They're smart boys, so they caught up quickly at their new school, but still. Don't get me started on that school.

    My aunt worked primarily in the tech industry and supervised a lot of young guys who had been bullied as young kids and they talked about how they STILL carried the emotional scars from being bullied. I'd like to think that bullying is happening less, but I don't think it is.
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    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

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