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DAD.info | Family | Education | Is your child struggling at secondary?

Is your child struggling at secondary?

Maya Griffiths

Maya Griffiths

Moving on to secondary school can be one of the most daunting experiences in a child’s life. Leaving their cosy, cuddly primary for the packed halls of secondary can prove a difficult transition.

Problems don’t always show up straight away, either. A child who has seemingly fitted in well can then begin experiencing difficulties, whether that be with friendship groups, bullying or learning.

Watching your child struggle can be difficult. What can you do to help?

If your child is struggling with friendships…

…they are not alone. Teen friendships are notoriously tough. With hormones and insecurities raging, what can at first seem a healthy friendship group can suddenly become nasty.

Figuring out how to help your child navigate these choppy waters can be difficult. You can also feel distant from the problem, and like you can’t control what’s happening.

The first step is to identify the issue. Is it one member of their peer group causing a problem, or many? Find out what has been said and where the difficulties lie. Sometimes it can be hard for teens to articulate how they feel about situations or what has been happening, and can also conceal issues. Checking their phone messages regularly may seem like an intrusion of privacy, but actually can help you keep on top of any bullying or friendship niggles that arise.

If your child is struggling to make friends then have a look at the school’s club availability. Clubs are a brilliant way for kids to make like-minded friends and meet others. They’re not limited to sports, either; clubs often encompass activities like chess, art, drama, Lego and even knitting!

If your child is still finding it hard to fit in and it’s affecting their mental health, speak to the school’s pastoral support team.

If they are struggling with bullying…

… then sadly they are one of many; a recent survey found that as many as 1 in 5 children are bullied at some point. Bullying can be damaging to a child’s sense of self and their self-esteem, not to mention incredibly upsetting and isolating.

In the first instance, get a log together of the incidents and what exactly took place. If your child has any evidence of bullying on their phone- perhaps Whatsapp messages- screen shot them. Approach the school as soon as possible and ask for a meeting with the head of year or the safeguarding team. Share the details of all events and messages sent.

You don’t have to wait for bullying incidents to pile up either- if even one unpleasant incident takes place you can still notify the school about it and ensure action is taken.

If possible, try and help your child identify one kind friend that they can stick with. If they don’t have someone they can lean on for support, ask for the school’s help to get your child into some clubs or activities where they can make new friends.

Is your child is suffering with stress?

It’s not unusual. Faced with a number of subjects to study and a pile of homework, many students feel stressed at various points.

You can help your teen destress by giving them scheduled downtime every evening- straight after school is a good option. Allow them to have half an hour of complete slob-out time, where they can have a snack and chill out for a while after a busy school day.

If they are feeling overwhelmed with homework, help them to schedule the evening to work through it: for example, 5pm-6pm on history, then after dinner, an hour of science. Make sure they have your support during homework time if they need it- perhaps you can help them if they get stuck or are unsure of what to do. Offering plenty of snacks also helps! More downtime, including time spent with the family at dinnertime or watching tv, also helps relieve stress.

There are also meditations now available for teens, via YouTube or on meditation apps. These can help your child find some peace away from their busy lives.

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