My 10 Yr. Old Son Is Sad and Feels Left Out in School...

Updated on September 20, 2010
C.B. asks from Pioneer, CA
28 answers

My 5th grade son tells me all the time he gets made fun of at school by "evryone" it seems. He is very sad about being an "outsider" and would like to be liked by others. Any suggestions on what to do? ( I guess I need to put more into this. Thank you for telling me) So.. He get's made fun of about whatever, such as they tell him his "weird" or that he is stupid. They call him names. He just says kids don't like him. I have talked with the teacher, but maybe need to again. He seems to be very smart, but not "street smart". He takes everything to heart. My husband thinks he will grow out of it, but it breaks my heart that he doesn't "fit in" and I feel sad that he is not happy in school. His coordination is a little slow (so to speak) and he takes things litterally. He analyzes everything so much and has a hard time letting things go. His sprit seems crushed. He even mentioned he'd like to (I don't like saying this at all... ) but he said he thinks about killing himself to just end it all. I was so horrified when he said that. Please give any suggestions. I would love for him to like going to school and be liked by others.

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T.V.

answers from San Francisco on

C.,

When someone talks about killing themselves that is a cry for help. He needs some professional help. I would also suggest getting him into Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, he will make some friends there and also build character.

Dad should spend some one on one with him every week.

Keep talking to him and listening to him about all his feelings. Keep us posted.

Blessings........

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D.R.

answers from New York on

im not saying he would do anything to himself, Gd forbid, but you have to take action when anyone says something like that, please. talk to someone, have him talk to someone, a professional, asap. i cant imagine how horrible it makes you feel, but you cant let it go. meanwhile,,,, sometimes something very simple and straightforward helps with the social situation. like that other mom said with the silly bands. something that just gives them a concrete way to initiate appropriate interactions. my son was having some social issues, i just gave him a little ball and some change and showed him how to play hit the penny. he brought it out to the playground at recess in his pocket and that little thing made all the difference, it changed everything. he just isnt good at initiating, and when he tries he is often awkward and it makes him seem a little weird, i guess. giving him a specific concrete thing to do gave him the direction and exact action he needed. "wanna play hit the penny?" and that was it. best of luck to you both.

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D.T.

answers from Muncie on

It's hard to offer help not knowing what he's being tease about or how he's an outsider.

Sometimes getting a boy into sports helps. Getting him on a team and getting him running can level things out between peers.

Hope this helps.

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M.O.

answers from Seattle on

This is a tough age when bullying can get out of control. Find out more from your son as to what he is experiencing. I would get in contact with his teacher and principal to let them know what your son is reporting. They may be able to give you more information. They also can help with stopping the behavior of the bullies. Finally, help your son find activities that help to boost his self esteem. I don't know if his father is in the picture, but I think it'd be a good idea to have a male talk to him and teach him ways to respond non-violently yet effectively to such behaviors.

**ADDITION since you reworked your question: Your son sounds like a very sensitive, intelligent little soul. I think you should talk to the school and you MUST talk to your pediatrician to get professional help for your little guy. He doesn't deserve to feel so sad and hopeless at such a young age. You may also want to consider switching schools for him if that is a possibility.

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M.M.

answers from San Francisco on

My daughter was around this age when she was going through some of the same things. Does your school offer a "lunch club", or "buddies" or even a Social Integration group? Check with the principal or special education department.

Your son may just have trouble socializing appropriately with his peers and once they smell weakness...they are vicious. Also, teach your son that if he sees a kid sitting alone, to go sit next them them. They are also probably lonely, etc.

Also, are there after school clubs, sports, scouts or other related things where your son can have more time with his peers?

Finally, a lot of the sadness and loneliness went away for my daughter when we got her a puppy. This sounds strange, but she has a full time companion now that never judges her. She can tell her secrets, cuddle, or just hang out with. Her and the dog are inseperable. The dog also gave her something to start conversations with. "Do you have any pets? I just got a new dog...she's so cute...", etc.

Best of luck. For us, things got better as my daughter started Middle School.

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

First - get that child into counseling.
Second - try Karate. The classes will improve his motor skills and help him socially. Try Swim Team... Our swim team was run by a mom with 15 kids - most adopted with special needs. The team was a great experience because everyone was different in some way. Some were tall, some were shy, some were heavy, some were tiny... They all became very good friends.
Is there one kid in his class that is nice? Invite that child over for play time...
I feel for your son. Everyone needs a friend.
LBC

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K.L.

answers from Redding on

You have some great advice here, especially the suggestions to have him see a counselor. They can help him deal with the problems and find his way through the next few years. It will give him great advice to last a lifetime. My thought is this: His dad needs to get more involved with the situation and handle some of the problems at school. I had a few small instances when my son was younger and had to deal with things. I actually heard kids snickering and teasing my son when I went to school to back him up. The bullies will jump all over the fact that mommy came to his rescue, and will have new ammunition to tease him about. They will add "sissy", "whimp", "baby", and "mama's boy" to their list of things to call him. If you didn't have dad in the picture I'd suggest an uncle or some other man who is close enough to your son to stand up for him. Since you mentioned dad, I say get dad into it. Just the male figure walking side by side with his son onto school grounds and into the office will show strength and bullies tend to step back when they see a stronger front. Tell dad his son will grow out of this, one way or another, but only in a healthy way, with help. It's time he was told to "man up" and deal with a problem on his son's behalf.

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C.T.

answers from Detroit on

i really don't have any advice but you and your son are in my prayers! good luck!

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C.C.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi C., my heart goes out to you and your son. You know I will tell you from my own experience with depression that it is NOT something that one grows out of and if he gets proper help in changing some of his thinking pattern now it will be a blessing to him for the rest of his life. It really sounds to me especially with the over analyzing that he has some what the professionals call "distorted thinking" patterns. I know that the you can retrain your brain to think differently it is A LOT of work, but so very worth it. If you tell him he will be happier for the rest of his life doing this work he probably will be willing to do it. A little at a time let him take it at his own pace no pressure. I would seek out a counselor who specializes in depression, and other mood disorders. He might benefit from some medication as well. Its a case by case basis some need therapy and meds some just need the therapy. He may even benefit from a live in facility for a while where they can help him one on one with this for a few days really get some positive thoughts going. He would also be with other kids and learn from experience that he is not alone which makes all the difference in the world. You can tell someone they are not alone and others experience these things but if he is with others who do experience these things he will really know it. There are also support groups that can help the whole family in how best to support him through this. Don't know if you have had depression but it can be incredibly debilitating, and if left alone he will continue in the negative thought process and get worse rather than growing out of it. I wish him a great recovery process.
The school issue, I don't know if you have any charter schools close to you, but that could be a great option. They are publicly funded and from what I have seen do a lot more than public schools in teaching kids how to treat each other nicely.
Don't know if you are religious or spiritual or not, but you can pray about all of this and how best to help him too.
I wish you well. My heart aches for those who are depressed I know what its' like, and have had a wonderful recovery. I am still on meds and might continue to need them which would be ok, but hope to be well enough to get off of them in the future. As you change the thought patterns in the brain the chemicals in the brain change too. He might feel funny doing this but one thing that will help is to ask him to try an experiment he looks in the mirror each day and says 3-5 good things about himself, the next day it is 3-5 new good things. He can keep a journal that he writes in each evening about what good thing he did or experienced that day that sets the brain for thinking positive through the night. It really makes a big difference.
I hope this helps you and your family. There are so many good resources write me a personal message if you want more.

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T.B.

answers from New York on

You MUST, MUST,MUST get up to the school and have a meeting with the teacher, principal and guidance counselor!!!! Try looking in your area for a teen support group...the ymca, local church, a therapist might run such a group. Some schools in my area have what are called "teams" and they are made up of a group of kids in the school who (during lunch/recess or afterschool) have sessions where they talk about bullying and other age-related issues and how to deal with them. Speak to someone at the school to see if one exists or even the possiblilty of getting one started. Maybe the school can hold an assembly with the student about bullying in the afternoon and another one with parents afterschool/evening. PUSH for this!!! try to reassure you son that he is not alone and unfortunately kids are going though this also. Tell him not to let other people bring him down---they are the ones with insecurities probably or have problems at home where they need to take it out on someone to make them feel "cool". Try putting him in an activity--doesn't have to be a sport--it can be scouts, musicial instrument class, science club, etc. Hugs to you and your precious son....good luck...stay strong!

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N.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Without knowing your son's exact situation, I can't say whether he is being bullied, or whether he is going through a normal transition phase that happens in Middle School.

Here is my advice:

1. As his mom, I would keep the lines of communication open. Tell him you are there for him, whenever he wants to talk about things. Give him hugs, reassurance that you love him and are there for him. Make a habit of checking in with him, and sometimes just let him talk about whatever he wants to.

I worked with Middle School kids in public school this summer, and I found that quite a few of the kids were feeling like outsiders, left out, and not accepted for who they are. They either tried hard to conform and fit in, or they found their own small group of kids like them, or they just were alone. It's really tough.

2. Kids need a strength at this age: whether it's something he's good at: art, soccer, ballet (we have a neighbor friend who was teased for being a ballet dancer, but he is now a talented dancer, with offers to dance in very prestigious companies), anything, really - work on those strengths, and find other kids in those interest areas. If he can even find one or two good friends, that can help.

3. If your son wants to be popular, you can't become popular solely by wanting to be liked - you need to like yourself, too, and be able to stand on your own two feet, which means, you don't have to be like everyone else, but learn to shine in being who you are. Confidence can be acquired through experience.

4. If he continues to show sadness/depression, you might want to seek the advice of a counselor and also have a conversation with his teachers, to see if you can get a better picture on what is happening in his school. Middle school is TOUGH - I still remember it!!! One thing that helped some Middle School kids I worked with was telling them I knew how they felt - "Yeah, it's tough age. But you'll get through it - I have confidence in you. Just do your best."

Good luck.

p.s. - I just read your updated question, and I am so sorry to hear the extent of your son's depression. I think you really need to get some professional advice if he is talking about ending his life (even if he doesn't mean it, that is a serious declaration, to be taken seriously).

Your son sounds like a very sensitive and bright child, and it might be that the school is not the right fit for him... have you thought about changing schools? Sometimes that can help.

Best wishes.

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L.O.

answers from San Francisco on

Oh C., your description sounds to the letter like my oldest at that age--now almost 24! Yes, he even says he had many suicidal thoughts at this age. So, I just forwarded your letter to him and asked him what he would suggest. Every single one of the suggestions below was made to us, and we tried most of them. What worked for us was putting him into a smaller, more personal charter school, but I'm not going to pretend that everything was roses and strawberries from then on. He has always had trouble in school. One of his problems was that he was young--a late fall birthday--as well as shy and very smart but not the most coordinated, and so of course the butt of all the typical teasing and jokes. I can't claim to have done a lot of things right at that time, but I do know that the smaller school helped him to get his legs (and the school paid a lot of attention to those social skills as well.) All we could do was keep supporting him and letting him know he was so very much loved by us.

I promise I will send along his response if he does answer. Although I'm not sure how to find this posting once it's not on my daily digest.

It may be Aspbergers, or it may be Non-Verbal Learning challenges. Be careful about psychiatrists, though, they have a tendency to just medicate. He could benefit from some counseling, but it really has to be helpful, giving him social tools, or it's just going to help make him feel even more that there's something 'wrong' with him. We were never able to get any kind of diagnosis for my son, and we went through quite a few counselors until we found a good one. It's a frustrating road to travel, and I'm so amazed and saddened that 14 years later there hasn't been some progress in this kind of thing.

One book that helped us at least understand somewhat was "Playground Politics". But I wish I felt more successful about that time of his life.

The good news, though, is now he is a great, strong, confident almost 24 year old, and even wiser for his years because of all he went through. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! But do keep those lines of communication open and the love flowing! Whatever you do, don't yell at him to 'be tough!' It echoes in my ears even now and makes me sad.

best of luck! Please feel free to email me.
L.
[email protected]____.com

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

This sure sounds like bullying to me. Talk to the teacher now.
Last year in my son's class there was a painfully shy boy who would throw up every day and he ate lunch with the nurse b/c his anxiety was so high at school.
The teacher called me to make sure if it was OK to ask my son to invite him to join him at lunch, a game at recess, etc. They were younger than your son, but the teacher might be able to suggest someone do just that.
Also, don't ignore his comment about killing himself. Can he talk to the school guidance counselor? Maybe start there.
Good luck. I know it's hard to watch when your child doesn't "fit in" but he's his own person with his own strengths and weaknesses, as are we all. I agree that joining a group or sport might boost his confidence a little.

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M.W.

answers from Boise on

Have you had your son evaluated for asperger's syndrome? Kids with asperger's are very book smart, but socially don't get stuff as easily as other kids. Also, they tend to physically be a bit thinner/smaller than average and have a little bit of coordination problems, such as not being very good at sports, but just fine in getting around doing ordinary things. Actually, everything you said about him are traits of aspergers. I have family members affected by it. My nephew was diagnosed when he was about your boy's age or older. He was always smart and met all of his developmental milestones, but socially didn't fit in, had a hard time making any friends, and was overly upset over things like having to stop playing with his favorite toy. As soon as he was diagnosed, he and family were very relieved, and the bullying stopped because the other kids figured out that he really was different and that they should be more patient with him. Kids are funny that way - if they think you are just weird, then they are meaner than if they know you are challenged in some way.
Please don't be offended if this is totally not your son. Was he accepted at other times and suddenly is not this year, or has he always had a hard time with his peers at school? If it is juste recently, then I am probably way wrong.

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E.C.

answers from San Francisco on

{{{hugs}}} to you and your son. As a mom to an 8.5YO with Aspergers (who has a neurotypical twin sister who is much more outgoing and socially savvy) I agree with the posters who think it would be worthwhile to have him evaluated for aspergers - many aspie kids are academically smart and very analytical but have a harder time navigating the less predictable realm of social interactions. What kinds of after-school activities interest him - perhaps something like martial arts or music lessons could help improve his motor skills and self-confidence? Is there an Odyssey of the Mind chapter in your area - that program is a place where many bright quirky kids feel right at home http://www.odysseyofthemind.com/

Also - I don't want to sound pushy about religion but as someone who was very insecure and shy as a child (and most probably an undiagnosed Aspie), I can say from personal experience that the christian group I joined in college was what finally helped me start developing a healthy self esteem and understanding that I did have purpose and meaning in life.

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R.W.

answers from San Francisco on

I just wanted to commend you for reaching out for help.
Please know that a child discussing suicide is very serious. They are too young to fully understand consequences and have not fully developed impulse control, those two things combine with someone who is feeling so unhappy make for a very high risk situation.
Please talk with your son right away and tell him that you are committed to helping him, and that you won't stop until he is feeling better. Ask him to promise you that he won't do anything to harm himself without first letting you know how bad he is feeling right then. Let him know that he can always come to you, and that you will always listen. These are things you should do now, Today, ASAP.
I know it's hard to think about talking so plainly with your son about such a serious topic, but you don't want to miss the chance to be sure that he knows he is not alone, and that you don't want him to do anything that could result in his being injured or dying.
Then, please make an appointment with your pediatrician, and the school like all the other mommas suggested.
You are courageous. Hug your boy and keep reaching out for help.

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L.D.

answers from Las Vegas on

He needs to find something that he can become an expert at outside of school. Something like karate (which will also help build up his physical stamina and strength), music, art, nature hikes -- whatever he's interested in and can become really good at. I think sometimes you have to earn your confidence and the best way to do that is to pick something that you are passionate about and try to do the best that you possibly can at it. It would be good if the activity he chooses to excel at gives him the chance to hook up and make friends with other like-minded kids.

Also, you may want to think about possibly checking out some social skills support groups and classes in your area. Your son may need extra help learning the finer nuances of communication with his peers. Learning the give and take of a conversation, how to become an active listener, how to continue a conversation even though you may not know too much about this particular subject matter. I'm sure that if you look around or maybe ask the school counselor, you can find a really great group that will help your son so that he can feel comfortable with the other kids at his school and the other kids can feel comfortable with him.

I am so sorry that your son is having to go through all this. I hope that you get a lot of really great advise that you can implement to help your son through this tough time in his life. Will be saying a prayer for him later tonight.

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S.P.

answers from Philadelphia on

Ok, so maybe I just read this since you reworked your post, but he said he thinks about killing himself, get help now. Wether he is being bullied or is just sensitive, who cares. Don't let him be a statistic, call your pediatrician ASAP.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I am adding to some of the advice here about purchasing some of these little items. Unfortunately there are some teachers who will not accept them and this might further humiliate a child, so I would suggest check with a teacher or playground supervisor first. Sorry to say that, but I have seen some darn sad kids in my school because teachers did not want them playing with something or even having it in the open.

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M.Y.

answers from San Francisco on

Find a family counselor or psychologist. Don't take any mention of suicidal thoughts lightly.

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L.S.

answers from San Diego on

I think I would speak to the teacher again and why not talk to the principal. This is not being made fun of .. this is bullying. What type of school anti-bullying program does your son's school implement for bullying behavior at the school? Find out. Your poor son is reaching out for help by telling you what he feels and that is important. All our kids should be able to go to school and feel safe, feel nurtured and understood in order to provide a positive learning environment. Its disgusting that this type of behavior exists.
Also, I agree with another mom that if you find a subject, sport or activity that your son is good at then do an after school class with that and hopefully he'll find other kids that have a common interest. Also, I would add a Karate class in there because these classes not only show a kid how to defend themselves but how to carry themselves in different situations even with a bully. It gives kids self-esteem. I would tell the Karate teacher what is going on. Best of luck to you and your son.

F.H.

answers from Phoenix on

My daughter was the same, she is going to be 11 end of the month. This year at school, "Silly Bandz" are really popular. They are basically rubber band bracelets that are different colors/shapes. You can buy them at Walgreen's and Walmart, Staples, etc. Anyway, the kids trade them at school. We bought some for both my kids and my daughter has really made some new friends by trading them. maybe find out something like this at your school. It will help him start to interact while you work on the other issues. Good luck!

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N.A.

answers from San Francisco on

It is important for him to know you and your husband support him and tell him sticks and stones will break his bones but names will never hurt them. It sounds like he may have a chemical imbalance also for him to talk about killing himself and ending it all. I have some suggestions if you would like email and we can chat more about it. [email protected]____.com

He will get through this give him lots of love.

Have a good evening.

N. Marie

C.C.

answers from Fresno on

Faith, I have to laugh because I was going to comment on the Silly Bandz as well! It's amazing how a little $2 pack of rubber bands can break down the social barriers, but my girls started at a new school this fall and my older daughter asked if she could bring some Silly Bandz the first day. Sure enough, that was all it took for her to start conversations with other kids in her class! At that age, they just need whatever is "cool" with other kids - back in the day when we were kids, remember those slinky bracelets that everyone had? And then a few years later, it was the Tomogotchi pets? Maybe something as simple as Silly Bandz (or whatever's popular at his school) would help him.

I do agree with the other comments about taking the depression issues seriously, though. You'll definitely want to have a psychologist or psychiatrist talk to him - don't take a chance with something like that. Maybe he's being melodramatic, but maybe he's not.

Good luck. It is so heartbreaking when your child has a hard time.

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T.D.

answers from San Francisco on

First, I am sorry for him. It hurts to be teased and it is hard as a parent to not know how to immediately fix the situation.
I have 7 yr old twins and we sometimes do playdates with the kids that they are friends with. It helps because it is more alone time between the kids instead the group of kids at school. Not sure if 10yr old do playdates or not.
Or does he have any interests, sports, music, put him in something after school so he can bond with that group. Maybe put him in a marital art, I hear that really boosts confidence. Good luck!

PS, I wrote my answer before I read your final words.. He needs lots of support from his parents and words like that should never be ignored. I would definitely talk to the school and I am not sure maybe he should start fresh in a new school or homeschool. He still needs a confidence boosts and I feel that sports and afterschool clubs can help with that part. Good luck, and give your son a big hug!

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C.1.

answers from Minneapolis on

I've hear that any type of martial arts can bring up a childs self esteem. Also I agree with Margaret too, by talking to the teacher AND the principle if he is being bullied too. When I was in 5th grade I was bullied by a classmate. I told my mom and she only spoke to the teacher. The teacher had a talk with Cindy, which only made it worst for me as the years went on in front of anyone...asking if I "was going to tell my mommy again" every time she did something to me or said something very hurtful. I haven't seen her since we graduated but I still think about how much she tortured me. I wish mom had gone above the teacher.

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A.N.

answers from San Francisco on

Definitely check out Asperger syndrome. People with that usually feel socially atypical and have difficulty doing and saying things acceptable by peers; in turn, they become isolated and feel at odd, that would lead to depression...

You can enroll him to some social skill classes, an example follows (I just received this info but I am not advertising here; I just want to show you that there are places that can help both children and adults with this condition):

"We are pleased to announce the Entelechy Wellness Center 2010 Fall Groups. Groups can be helpful for several reasons, including helping your child realize s/he is not alone.

Social Skills Groups
· Improve Social Skills
Members of this group will learn appropriate social skills, including impulsivity control, and increase their understanding how social skills affect their relationships.
· Understand Social Cues and Nuances
Members will learn the importance of non-verbal communication and be provided tools to enhance ability to understand social nuances.
· Enhance Self-Esteem
Often times, children that struggle socially will internalize their behaviors in a negative way. Group members will be provided necessary tools and coping skills to counter negative effects on self-esteem.
· Increase Self-Awareness
It is common for children with weak social skills to lack self-awareness with regard to social situations. Group members will learn how to understand how their behaviors impact others and increase frustration tolerance.

Palo Alto: Wednesdays, 7-8pm ∙ San Francisco: Mondays, 6-7pm
**Should you be interested in a group that conflicts with your schedule, we always do our best to accommodate! Please indicate your availability (days/times) for the group on the group sign up sheet (the link is located in the How to Sign Up Your Child section below)"

Hope this give you some ideas of help!

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M.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I agree with the counseling. At least this will get him to talk about his feelings. Do not take those words lightly. Ever!! If you are ever in SJ we can meet and he can play with my son. My son usually gets along with everyone and he loves to meet new friends. God Bless!!

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