Hi there. My 13 year old is struggling at school. Does anyone else's child's behaviour and personality completely change when at school? She insists she likes school but she's showing negative behaviours while at school
You're probably seeing the beginning of masking. It's where we create a personalty that we think fits better with the situation so we can hide in plain sight. It's incredibly tiring to maintain this mask as we try to fit in to a world we don't really understand. Puberty is the killer for us - all our friends are suddenly getting good at playing the social game and it appears someone forgot to send us a copy of the rules.
Girls are also terrible to each other - and if the smell a weakness, they mercilessly go in for the kill.
Your daughter is likely to be in this stage of trying to fit in and trying different personalities to minimise the risk of bullying - although it might lead her to the dark side - better to be friends with the bully than be the victim.
Do you have a good relationship with her? Are you able to talk about all this with her and maybe give her some pointers and social clues and the inside track as she might not work them out for herself.
The masking is exhausting and trying to be someone else all day means she will be incredibly tired and frustrated when she gets home - make the home environment as simple, predictable and as calm as possible for her - and don't be offended if she uses you to vent all her anger and frustration (you're the nearest safe target). She might need quiet and time to rebalance her brain when she gets home - what does she enjoy doing? Does she have any hobbies?
Ah ok, that's really interesting and helpful, so thank you! I try my best to understand but this, I just couldn't get a grip on. I know how she feels now, when she doesn't understand some of my behaviour etc. It's just her breaking rules, like with her uniform and being defiant (although I don't think that's half as bad as with her previous school so far). I personally have seen a huge positive change in how she's doing in this school, I just get scared that some teachers actually really don't understand or care much for it. That does explain why she's so tired when she's back from school. I have virtually no problems with her at home now I really understand her more and have provided her with what she needs. It's literally just school, but all you've said makes sense. She does swimming with me and her brother, boxing, an ASC chatterbox club and farm therapy sat mornings, which really helps her. She loves animals and water play, so I took a water play kit into school for her, but there's been some confusion with that as she hasn't used it yet. Our relationship is much better now and we do discuss things, she really doesn't seem to understand that some of the things she does are inappropriate. Sometimes she gets defensive and angry when I try to offer advice and sometimes she just plain blank argues with it and that whatever I suggest won't work
At 13 she's probably growing like crazy, that alone will leave her feeling tired.
There's a good chance she won't use anything that makes her appear different from her peers - her home life sounds great - but it may be classed as lame by the 'cool kids' so she may choose to conceal it with a 'bad girl' persona that gets her through the day without adverse attention.
I chose to create a big, extrovert personality at school - I had measured that personality would be forgiven for being a bit odd and eccentric - whereas an odd introvert becomes a target.