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Worried about my granddaughter

(47 Posts)
Sar53 Wed 03-May-17 10:03:45

I am worried about one of my 8 year old granddaughters, as is her mum, my eldest daughter.
She is not a happy little girl. She has no real friends, she sometimes plays with the other girls in her class, but is sometimes left out. No-one wants to come on playdates with her and she doesn't understand why. She is getting on ok with her academic work and is no trouble in class.
At home she doesn't settle to anything unless it involves watching tv, which is restricted. She has dancing lessons which she enjoys but just does enough to get by, when she could do so much more.
She is always saying how bored she is. She tells my daughter that she is not loved and doesn't want to live there. She is so loved by everyone and my heart breaks for her.
At times she is almost manic and it is hard to calm her down.
Ever since she was little she has appeared to be in her own world some of the time.
I know her other grandma has raised concerns with my daughter. Her father, my SIL, will not hear any of this. He thinks she is fine.
She has two younger sisters, she is very good and kind with the baby but on occasions her and the second daughter fight, as sisters do,and the younger one gets hurt, but she will never admit that she is in the wrong and becomes almost hysterical even if what she has done is an accident. I witnessed this last week when I stayed with them. I was almost in tears at her distress.
I don't know what to do or say to my daughter to help. I don't want my granddaughter labelled but I do think she needs some kind of help.
I welcome any comments. Thank you for reading.

Luckygirl Wed 03-May-17 10:40:03

I had three little girls, and occasionally one would seem out of sorts and not happy. OH and I agreed that we would deal with it by engineering one to one time with whichever child was feeling troubled. He would look after the other two and I would take the one on an outing somewhere or give them a bit of special attention - or OH and I would swap roles. It really did seem to work. Worth a try - it worked for us.

Crafting Wed 03-May-17 11:00:59

How about rainbows, or brownies as another out of school activity. Have you tried asking the teacher what they think her relationship is with other children. Luckygirl's idea seems a good one. Perhaps in some way she feels left out (doesn't mean that she is just that is how she maybe looking at things).

Nannarose Wed 03-May-17 11:41:45

I think that both of the above ideas are excellent. However, having worked in child mental health services, I do see a few signs from your post that make me think it might be worth seeking help.

To be as clear as I can on a forum like this: I am NOT saying your DGD or the family has mental health problems - I am saying that seeking help might enable the family to see things more clearly. I would add that getting the right kind of help is not 'labelling'.

Firstly I would see what the school has to offer - some schools have mental health workers attached to them (although I know this is being cut) who can see the child informally.

Next, I would consider contacting the school nurse. Not the 'first aider', I mean the designated school nurse. These nurses (think health visitor for older children & their families) are often a great source of knowledge and support. They will know local services, and who is best placed to help.
The school should be able to put you in touch, but you should also be able to find out via your local council or NHS. I am afraid that as services have fragmented and been 'contracted out' it can be difficult to give advice that holds good across the UK.

I see there is a baby, so wonder if the Health Visitor could be the first port of call? Depending on their own training / experience, they may be able to help themselves, or suggest who to contact.

All of my suggestions mean that there is no formal referral to Child Mental Health Services (is that what your SiL is afraid of?) unless one of the primary care team think it useful. So your daughter is seeking help & support in a low key way. What comes out of that may help her either to be reassured, and do the kind of things that the posters above suggested; or she will know that something more is needed and will know what to say to her husband.

I hope this helps, and this little girl is fortunate in having such a supportive family.

gillybob Wed 03-May-17 12:37:23

I wonder if is being one of three, that is part of the problem Sar53. I have three DGC (2 girls 11 and 9) and a grandson (7). it is very difficult spreading yourself three ways which can lead to the one shouting the loudest getting the most attention. Is it possible that with two younger siblings she is just feeling a bit left out?

After loving Brownies my DGD (9) decided that she did not want to go anymore. No reason given and wouldn't change her mind. We now think that she was worried about what we were doing when she wasn't there.

I agree with Crafting in that it might be worth asking what she is like at school. Does she play and interact well with the other children?

Sar53 Wed 03-May-17 13:46:37

Thank you for your comments.
Lucky girl, she has a lot of one to one time with both parents. Cinema with dad, shopping with mum. It doesn't appear to make any difference.
Crafting, she is a Brownie which she enjoys. Her TA at school has spoken to my daughter about her being alone at playtime. You cannot make children play with each other. She is not always alone but seems to find it hard to interact within a group, better at one to one.
Gillybob, I think it is more than feeling left out. She has always been a little different even as a toddler.
Nannarose, I personally think she does need to talk to someone who understands young people. I worry about the future for her. I cannot see her dad agreeing to this at all.
My daughter and myself have both suffered quite badly with depression in the past, both of us fro m when we were teenagers. I also have a niece who has Aspergers as probably does her dad, my brother, but he has never been formally diagnosed.
We all love my granddaughter to pieces but she is a worry and it is not getting any better.

Nannarose Wed 03-May-17 13:52:49

Dear Sar53
I write this as best I can on an open forum. The suggestions that I made do not require her father to know or even be aware of, as they are low-key.
I would suggest that your daughter contacts one of them (whichever she finds easiest to access / trust in) and says 'I need to talk to you about my daughter. Her dad does not think there is a problem, but I need to talk to you about MY concerns'.
Should it require further intervention (and it may not) then they will support your daughter in explaining to her husband.

paddyann Wed 03-May-17 14:16:47

my sister always said the sister next to her"took her place" they fought constantly for decades.It may be she feels left out with another new sibling around as competition ,I think making her feel special and wanted would help her.She of course may be hormonal too as lots of girls start their periods at 8 nowadays ,there are four in my grandaughters class which only has 7 girls so my grandaughter is always asking when hers will arrive .Just be kind to her and things might settle I wouldn't start labelling her as ill or troubled

hildajenniJ Wed 03-May-17 14:19:46

I'm glad you have brought up the possibility of Aspergers here Sar53. I see a lot of parallels in your post, with my DD and DGS1. My DGS has Asperger syndrome, he was diagnosed age 5. He never had any friends at school, only ever managed to be invited to one birthday party, and was miserable at school. My DD had only one real friend at school although she managed very well with the work. She used to say similar things to me as your GD does, and was often really horrible to her little brother, she has never had a formal diagnosis but we suspect she too has Aspergers.
On a positive note, my DD went to University, got a degree in Anthropology, and is now a wonderful mother to four lovely, if difficult children. A diagnosis is just a label, with really good parental support, and your help she will turn out very well.
Good luck for the future.

grannypiper Wed 03-May-17 15:00:37

Your DD has to seek help, the Father needs to be asked why he lets his child suffer. You say at times DGD seems to be in her own little world, Aspergers or Petit mal ? This must be faced head on

Starlady Wed 03-May-17 16:00:48

Sar53, my heart aches for your little gd. I agree with pps that her mom needs to get her into therapy right away, whether the dad likes it or not. The child's needs have to come first here.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering if DD ever invited over a girl from dance class or Brownies or if she only tried to set up playdates with kids from school. While school is the best place to find friends for kids, in most cases, sometimes it's better to look elsewhere. Happily, DD and GD have other avenues. I hope they explore them.

About the one-on-one time - just a thought - neither cinema nor shopping direct much attention on her. Not saying to cut those activities out, but maybe she needs them to focus more on her interests. Or perhaps she needs more praise to feel loved. Or more physical affection. They may have to try a few different things before they find that "button" that makes her feel loved.

None of that rules out help from a therapist though.

She will be in my prayers...

Izabella Wed 03-May-17 17:11:35

Some excellent suggestions here Sar53. If her father however shares parental responsibility I suggest he should be party to any ongoing referrals. If that is a sticking point try animal therapy for counselling as something special and tailor made for the child. Donkeys and horses provide a non judgemental listening ear for children who feel different, they don't ask questions and they don't have expectations. I referred several children during my career. You may have something in the area. This little girl certainly sounds as if she needs a special friend as did this grown up gran whose amazing and intuitive horse got her through a painful divorce some years ago. If you need further help pm me.

Sar53 Wed 03-May-17 17:15:05

Thank you once again for your comments and kind thoughts.
Most of the girls from dancing and I think Brownies go to her school. She is friendly with another girl she met at swimming classes, who goes to a different school, and who has the same kind of problems, ie no friends, and I think a play date has been arranged.
She gets loads of praise and as much physical affection as she will accept from both parents.
Last Saturday I was with my daughter as she went from one side of town to the other to make sure that she was there to see both the older girls receive dancing rosettes. Neither of them missed out in having their mum there to clap and take pictures.
I feel I must tell my daughter that I have posted on this forum and get her to read this thread and take from it what she will.
I know how much she is worried and I do believe that my beautiful granddaughter needs someone from outside the family to give an opinion.

Izabella Wed 03-May-17 17:25:14

Well with such a caring and supportive family I think the future for this special child looks positive. I wish you all well

BlueBelle Wed 03-May-17 17:31:13

I m sorry but I don't agree with the poster that said ' she must go into therapy straight away'
I think it needs to be much more subtle and less of a bulldozer than that The little girl does sounds as if she may be in the asbergers area but that is just a matter for the mum and dad to learn how to help her by educating themselves.....
some children just aren't so open to making friends as other are, they may be shyer, less confident or just more private prople The fact that she gets manic at times again could be a pointer, but how useful is it to label an eight year old
Children on a spectrum can't be changed but those around them need to learn the best ways of helping and working with them to make life easier, simpler and less painful for all .....I also agree animal interaction can be very calming and helpful does she have a pet ?

Crafting Wed 03-May-17 17:46:18

'As much physical affection as she can cope with' could be a sign of autism. Could be a shy child, could be a child who takes longer to make her own way in the world. Whatever, it would be best to rule out anything like ASD as if it does turn out she has ASD the sooner you know the barter placed you will be to a) help her and b) not cause her more difficulties by not understanding. Having said all this, there are lonely children. I was one. I was too shy to reach out and too afraid of rejection. It was not until I was much older that I leant to cope with conversations and mixing with others. There are many, many lonely children in the world, you only have to read GN to know that. It's very sad I know and we can't help but worry. O

mostlyharmless Wed 03-May-17 18:09:27

I agree with the suggestions above.
I think the first step might be to look at questionnaires for ASD screening. It's a tick list that parents (and teachers and educational psychologists) use to assess the little girl's behaviour. So it's not intrusive at all and could be an important discussion focus for the parents. Or the concerned mother could look at the list on her own before deciding how to involve the father. Look carefully for an appropriate questionnaire as there are probably lots online. Even if you think she might have some form of ASD, it doesn't mean 'going into therapy' it just means making informed choices about how the parents (or possibly the school) can help her.
I hope this works out well for your granddaughter.

mostlyharmless Wed 03-May-17 18:21:52

ASD can be harder to diagnose in girls as they tend to have less obviously typical symptoms than boys.

mcem Wed 03-May-17 19:03:16

I think 'therapy' is first option in USA and seem to remember that starlady is American. Sorry if I 'm wrong there.

Reading the op, I have my DGS in mind. Many of us thought that, amongst other problems, ASD might explain some of his father's behavioural traits (which led to their breakup.)

DS sees his father regularly and we do notice changes in his attitude and behaviour after a visit.

Sar53 Wed 03-May-17 19:41:37

To answer some of your comments. I certainly don't agree with 'therapy straight away'. She is very confident and not at all shy, she can be in your face at times. No pets, she has asthma and eczema.
We are a very caring and supportive family and want what is best for her.
Once again thank you everyone for your wise words.

Deedaa Wed 03-May-17 21:55:54

The fact that she has made friends with a similar girl is interesting. My ADS GS has several friends at school but has now realised they are all ADS as well. MY GS is confident and in your face, but this means he does tend to lecture rather than hold a conversation.

Norah Wed 03-May-17 22:43:42

I have a GC with similar personality Sar53, ASD was easily diagnosed. He graduated uni, has a wife, child and friends, and a nice job. Took little planning and control efforts here and there on his parents and sisters.

Norah Wed 03-May-17 22:47:50

The American show "Big Bang" with actor Sheldon, imo, is similar to my GS to ASD traits.

M0nica Thu 04-May-17 08:03:02

I am with nanarose, I think it is worth seeking some advice now. One of two things will happen. Competent professionals will lay your fears to rest and say that your DGD is developing normally but a bit towards the edge or any possible problems will be picked up and intervention can take place before the problem becomes serious.

Several people have suggested autism, but I will suggest another and that is that your DGD is academically gifted but underachieving and mildly depressed. I write this because I had a child like that. He was a friendly child and well liked, but had few friends and didn't want to mix with other children out of school. He read a lot and wanted to watch television all the time, likewise we only allowed restrictive viewing, and complained about boredom. His school work was satisfactory but he was not a high achiever and caused no trouble and because he was dyspraxic (not well co-ordinated) the quality of any written work was poor.

Fortunately, we were pointed in the right direction around school age and he was assessed. However knowing the problem does not always provide a solution but we were put in contact with groups for similar children and he made friends there. We chose his secondary school with care and as he went through adolescence he gradually came out of his shell. In his late 40s, he is now a well-respected and successful academic with a happy family life

BlueBelle Thu 04-May-17 08:19:41

Please don't try to 'cure her' she is what she is, we know so many titles and labels nowadays and are quick to put everyone in a box we are all on some spectrum to be honest. With love and care ( and she sounds as if she got plenty of that) and lots of common sense she will be fine Once she has a label it will be with her for life and is it always useful? I wonder what labels we would have all had if we had been tested.... I was very very shy and very lacking in confidence as a kid I m sure I would have been something or other
Encourage her in all she WANTS to do a lot of what you describe in your original posts sounds perfectly normal Some a bit extreme but she's finding her own personality and niche let her go at her speed if she is on the aspergers spectrum the most useful thing is learn techniques of dealing with it so you are all on the same hymn sheet