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Heidi LPC
Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 234
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
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I have an 11 year old daughter who is well into adolescence.

Resolved Question:

I have an 11 year old daughter who is well into adolescence. She seems to have a very low self esteem - telling me 5 times per day that she does not feel good about herself. She also has some disturbing anger outbursts, is very loyal to her social group at school who I believe are influencing her and contribitung to her low levels of esteem.Over the past week she has stopped eating her lunch at school and does not want to take food with her to school apart from a small piece of fruit. She was chosen to represent her school in their band as she is a good singer and in the last week is wanting to withdraw her position from the band. I feel she may be getting bullied at school. Should I be taking her to see a psychologist? Regards, Tania
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 2 years ago.

Heidi LPC :

Hi there! Sorry to hear that your daughter is dealing with a rough patch right now... I am wondering if you can speak with her teachers at school to get a better idea of where she is socially in terms of the children she is surrounding herself with? Teachers sometimes can see the dynamic a bit more clearly and may be able to give you some insight.

Heidi LPC :

The description you have given does sound like some social pressure regarding her body image and possibly about being in the band... it will be useful to ask if this is so, and if she says it is, then teaching her how to respond to the judgement of others will be necessary.

Heidi LPC :

The anger itself will need to be explored, and she can be given appropriate ways to express her feelings, as in through writing, drawing, talking, etc... but that tantrums are unacceptable. Hormones are also starting up... and she may need to be talked to about what they can do to an otherwise 'normal-feeling' young girl! ;-)

Customer:

Hi there, I have spoken to the school about a number of issues which osccured last year relating to mistreatment and they have been very unhelpful. I have her enrolled in a small christian college for high school and am wondering whether I should commence her last part of grade 6 at a new school. Her self esteem is low and she is not willing to stop remaining loyal to her social group at school and many of them have high levels of freedom eg facebook and skype with unlimited access. Jemma is not a strong person, very easily influenced and not willing to listen to reason from me. I think she may need further help from a prfessional.

Heidi LPC :

It can't hurt to offer her this help... we just don't want her to think that there is something "wrong" with her, which will further damage an already shaky self-esteem. There are some great articles and websites out there to help young girls deal with this type of thing, and I will attach one here from "Time" magazine on "How to Bully-Proof Girls"... http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2013184,00.html

Heidi LPC :

The teen years are tough... and if you have had no support from the school, you might just be on track with the idea of a switch in schools... you know better than anyone the seriousness of the issue.

Customer:

I may have already placed too much emphasis on her having some problems. She has asked me several times what's wrong with me. Why is everyone prettier than me. Why do the teachers not like me. Her schooling has shown bias to many other students which has not helped her as once she was very enthusiastic to put her hand up for extra activities but she sees the same kids get picked every time and she is rejected. I can accept her dislike toward me for a few months if I switch schools but I am concerned this may be more damaging as she is adamant she wants to see the year through at this school. I dont want to have things get too much worse for her but I have seen her esteem deteriorate rapidly over the past 5 months. When she is at home for a few weeks during school holidays she seems to be happier and more content with the choices I make for her social outlets.

Heidi LPC :

What she needs right now is some power. Sit down with her and ask her, if she could describe the perfect life and how she wishes things were, what that would look like. Then let her make some choices for ways to take action to achieve what she is envisioning. Power and action are the antidote to depression. She needs to have a feeling of some control, whether you allow her a bit more freedom on Facebook, or shopping for some new outfits, or etc... but she needs to feel less a victim and more able to control her circumstances, which can help to lead to stronger self-confidence in her ability to make choices for herself. If she is adamant about staying in this school, some firm boundaries must be out into place about her being healthy and safe and expressing her feelings in more socially appropriate and healthy ways. And, above all, keep talking about how we are all not built from the same mold, and different and unique is what we are.

Heidi LPC :

One more link on ways to help if bullying is the issue: http://www.teachersandfamilies.com/open/parent/ra5.cfm

Heidi LPC :

Another on building self-esteem in girls: http://voices.yahoo.com/building-selfesteem-girls-6807244.html

Customer:

Thank you...I have read books which have talked about this level of power I need to give to her, however she is defien toward me. She wants to go against everything I say ie not wear proper school uniform, not tie her hair back, asking to wear make up..chosing inappriate clothing.I say no to all of these things however she gets more defiant and shuts me out almost completely. I am thinking I have a fairly serious issue here and will take her to see a psycholgist before meking a decision to switch schools. I will read the article you have sent me also as I will tke on any advice that may help. She is telling me she is happy at school but I know the kids she is hnging out with and their families and their values are very different to ours so I am behind the eight ball when she goes to school. One more question...do you think it is possible for things to get a whole lot worse if I keep her in this school to a point which is may become unrepairable particularly with not wanting to eat at school?

Heidi LPC :

Let me say that when we negotiate things with our children to a reasonable agreement between us both, and they have a part in decision-making, they have almost nothing to rebel against. Choose the big battles to stand firm on, but allow her the freedom to develop her own look and her own opinions right now. It will be much easier in the long run for you when you are allies in the important things. As far as the school goes, she will probably be ok. Let her know that you are there to support her, and want to help anyway that you can, but that you wil honor her wishes as long as she makes healthy choices for the rest of the year. Talking with her about the food issue, telling her that you are wondering if she is concerned with her weight, and if she is, sit down and put together some ideas for low-calorie snacks that are healthy, etc... and do some meal planning together to give her that power. Whatever we give the most attention to is what we see more of... so give her lots and lots of attention when she is positive and healthy and happy as herself! And, not so much when she is dramatic or negative. She needs to know that these feelings are normal, to want to fit in and be liked. But most of all, it matters most that SHE like herself.

Customer:

OK, thank you. I will attempt to empower her a bit more with healthy choices for the rest of the year. And will look at some healthy eating plans as well. I am reluctant to give her too much freedom though at this point....she does not have facebook as she is not 13 yet but she has skype. I will limit her access on it to 30 minutes per day. I am already doing some of these things to help empower her but it does not seem to work too well. I will try not to give up though and keep slogging on with the hope that we can get through this year. With regards XXXXX XXXXX quitting the band I have told her that if she quits the band I will not continue to pay for her to have singing lessons as the two go hand in hand....ie performing experience is necessary. She has not made a decision on this one yet and I need to learn to accept whatever decision she makes even if it is the other kids influencing her right. I'm thiking she will regret quitting the band and losing her singing lessons, but I think that this may need to happen in order for her to learn a consequence. Is that too harsh?

Heidi LPC :

You are absolutely correct; kids learn best through their own mistakes... nothing is permanent, and she may find out that she misses it. I remember telling my kids that I wanted them to learn to read and play music, and that after 6th grade, they could decide if they wanted to continue. Only one of three did, but at least they had the experience! Giving her the power to choose takes you completely off the hook as a target for her anger... and she develops strength in the process.

Heidi LPC :

Knowing when to hold on and when to let go is the challenge of parenting; I have always tried to let go and give them room before they had to fight me for it... and it has worked beautifully!

Customer:

Thanks again....it sounds like I'm on the right track. We can always pick the lessons up again at a later date. I am satisfied with this discussion and will take on board what you have said as well as read the three articles you have sent me.

Heidi LPC :

Glad to be of some service! I wish you the best! Let me know how it all works out! :-)

Customer:

Bye for now. If I wanted to talk to you again is it possible to do so?

Heidi LPC :

Yes--- just put my name in front of your next question and I will get it; or reaccess this discussion anytime through the "my questions" tab at the top of your screen! Good luck and keep up the great work!

Customer:

Thank you so much.

Customer:

Tania

Heidi LPC :

You are very welcome!

Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 234
Experience: Licensed Professional Counselor
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