How do I help my smart, shy 9 year old daughter with issues related to body image, bullying, and (possibly) depression?
June 5, 2012 12:13 PM Subscribe
My wife and I are trying to help our oldest child with some issues that have been around for a while, but have intensified this year.
posted by dudeman to Human Relations (54 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Background: She's a super smart, shy kid. Loves books and will read for pleasure to the exclusion of almost everything else in the world. Reads at a high school level, anything we will let her read (and a few books we won't.) Has a few close friends at home and at school, and these girls are her lifeline, but otherwise she does not make new friends easily. Attends a school for the gifted & talented - good student, obedient to the teachers, often defiant to her parents.
Mornings are difficult - she's grouchy, angry, defiant. I remember this from my childhood. For me it was a combination of sleep deprivation and depression. There's a family history of mental illness on my side, my mother has untreated phobias and OCD, and I have chronic low level depression that I treat with medication.
She may have some body image issues - she's slim and IMHO quite pretty, but prefers loose fitting clothing so it doesn't show her body. Has trouble adjusting to new things: new clothes, haircut, new toys, anything except new books, basically. "Fear of the new."
This year she has had some trouble with a bully in class (a "mean girl"). We've gone to the teacher and the administration with mixed results. I'm concerned that she does not stick up for herself - not in terms of fighting, but in terms of advocating for herself and letting the teachers know when something is not right. She is anti-snitching to the extreme and will not tell a teacher when she is being bullied.
She has a very negative opinion of psychiatrists - we took her to a child psychiatrist when she was 4 at the urging of her pre-K teachers to help her deal with her shyness. She had a positive experience at the time, although it didn't really do much for her shyness. Since then (possibly due to the influence of some of the books she has been reading.) she attaches a stigma to psychiatrists and the school guidance counselor. I'm not sure if therapy could help her, nor do I know if she would open up to a therapist about her issues given time and space to do so.
I look at her and I see parts of my childhood being repeated - but more intensely. It's as if she's experiencing the alienation of my middle school years, but she's only in elementary school. It's a little scary to think about.
Any suggestions for how we can help her? We are in New York City.