Wednesday, February 6, 2013

9 year old experiencing social trouble after dealing with father issues

My 9 yo daughter has had a terrible time with friendships for a few years now. Basically very low self worth and issues with a pathetic Dad she has shared custody with. he's emotionally manipulative, abusive, and withdrawn.

At school she is a very high achiever, academically gifted. She is also very creative, a true right thinker usually winning art awards.

Last year because of issues with her dad this resulted in her social skills suffering terribly. She alternated between bully-like behavior and being victimized. She has no malice I must make that clear. Her self esteem is low and faith and trust in people is non existent. Last year hormones struck too which compounded problems.
I want to help her but feel powerless. This year she has been separated from all her friends in the classroom via those parents' requests. My daughter is not stupid she knows their mums have told their daughters not to play with my daughter. How can I help my little girl deal with this?
Any advice welcome. Thank you.

I’m sorry to hear that you and your daughter have been through a rough time. Although it would be great to be able to offer you an answer to your daughter’s school problems and have it resolved quickly and easily, I feel that its best to suggest some foundational work first, and some of it might have to start with you. You are just as much an example to your daughter as your husband is and therefore by dealing with any trapped emotion you may have about him you may shift how she feels about people in general. First, I have to ask, whether you worry about your daughter being at her father’s house? Is it a question of her safety? Often, when spouses have different approaches and perspectives it can be a tool for our children to figure out exactly what they like, how they want to live and who they want to be. It can be a positive thing, and empower them to decide what they feel about it all, if we can bring it to that light. Therefore, provided you feel alright with the arrangements, and your instincts don’t suggest having them changed, then you and your daughter have to learn how to forgive your ex for who he’s chosen to be. By shifting the perspective to Love you can’t feel helpless. By telling your daughter that your ex made some bad choices, or doesn’t know any better, by reminding her and yourself of Who He is on a spiritual level, that he is acting from a place of disconnection and of bad feelings and must feel awful all the time, but to choose to send him positive intentions instead, you will offer your daughter a new perspective on humankind. We are all one. We are all positive spiritual beings who at our core are made of love. Sometimes people get disconnected from that... we all get disconnected from that, sometimes people do horrible things in that state of disconnection. It doesn’t mean she has to choose to even if her father has.
So forgive him (even if he is as bad as you say, and you are considering changing the custody agreement or not, even if he stops being part of your life at all, forgive him. You will always feel better.)
Choosing the path of love, and encouraging your daughter to do the same, will bring forth new options. It’s hard to get into the habit at first to not criticize or blame another person for everything that goes wrong, even if it is their “fault”. It’s not a question of blaming ourselves, just finding feeling better thoughts about the situation, such as “Yes, he did that, but in someways it taught me a lot.” Or “ It gives us opportunities to really decide how we want to live.” Softens the blows. Once our feelings “soften” regarding a situation, we shift our attraction point and things start to appear differently in our life.
The Law of Attraction is the universal law that like attracts like. whatever we are feeling we send out that energy and the law of attraction brings more things into our lives that feel the same. It’s a bit like how when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, we always stub our toe or end up in traffic. When we chose to be positive and filled with love, focusing on the positive aspects of others and things, we attract more positive experiences and things shift.
Nine years old is a pivotal time for children (as a mother of a 9 year old and one who recently turned ten I can vouch for it.) They have so much information at their feet, from what they’ve gathered over the past 9 years, from the internet and from the people around them. They stand at the point of approaching teenagehood and are deciding what they like and who they want to be. It is a wonderful time to approach talk about the Law of Attraction and universal truths.
Yes, she may feel like a victim, but she knows deep down that she is a positive spirit, who came here with a purpose. She is important and the situation she is in, and has been in, has been designed to offer her choices and understanding. She gets to choose what she does with the information.
We get what we give, it never fails. When we treat people badly we send off the energy of that and it always comes back to us. So pass on to her the tool of treating people how she wants to be treated, no matter how they treat her.
She doesn’t like it when people treat her badly, so she can’t treat others as such. It’s the game we came to play.
Now, passing on fundamentals like this can take some time, and I would suggest some pragmatic things as well. Consider doing yoga together, or starting some meditation classes or tapes together. Also, consider enrolling her in some social thing on her own, so she can meet new people and not be seen as who she has been acting as, rather as who she really is. If she is passionate about art, than an art class or something at an art gallery could give her a chance to meet people who like the same things as her and she will feel more comfortable with.
With my own daughters of this age I find that I am shifting into the place of being a friend and confidant, letting them make their choices, but being there to remind them there are choices, not a set route. I remind them of how proud of them I am, for who they are and who they can be. I try to spend time laughing and playing with them, chatting over things on the computer or having special shows we watch at night together. Right now, at this time, I am trying to build a feeling of a fun relationship together. It feels wonderful and the natural course of things as we build toward becoming friends, and it means they always have a safe place to come, a place to smile, be positive, and feel like their truest selves.
I feel like I’ve written this a little blind, going on what I feel is happening in the situation. If I’ve gotten it wrong and you would like to fill me in on more details, please do so, or if you would like to discuss anything further, just ask.
Be well, happy and thrive.


  1. For whatever it's worth, you are not powerless. The love and acceptance you shower her with is priceless. The life skills you show and teach her are priceless. No, you cannot make her happy or confident. But, don't discount your power.

    It sounds like it's been a long journey and there likely isn't a quick fix, but you will get there . . . . together. Let her know that you don't know the answers (actually, she already knows that), but she'll respect your honesty and she'll have more faith in the fact that you'll figure "it" out together.

    And I second Christina's suggestion to help her find activities/situations in which she can meet new people . . . a new environment in which she can rebuild her self-esteem.

    One last suggestion - once a day, tell her something that you like about yourself and that you like about her. And, then ask her to do the same. Even if she doesn't reciprocate at first, keep doing it. It will help both of you.

    Hugs from a fellow mom.

  2. Beautifully put! Thanks for your comment!