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Anne Cawood

Question

Posted by: Jamie | 2011/10/24

Q.

9 year old- What should we do?

I’ve been married for 7 years, we have 4 girls, ages, 9;6;3 and one month. The 9 year old is not biologically mine however I have raised her as my own since 2 years old. She knew me as her only dad until my family started visiting and she began to notice that she was shown less love than my other kids. She also listened in when extended family members spoke about the other children resembling me and wondered why she was never compared. This caused my wife and I to quarrel alot and my take on it was that I cannot force my family to love her if they really do not. I would hate to see them show her love whilst I know that it has no meaning and its just for me to feel better. Last year we decided to tell her that I was not her real dad. She did not take it well and I must admit she loves me the most from all my kids and makes it known that I’m her role model. Last month she came off age and didn’t take this well either. Financially, we are a very stable and when it comes to weekends, we spend a lot of time with each other, watching TV, swimming, cooking etc. The problem we have is that she does not perform well at school and for the last 3 years have failed to obtain satisfactory results but was given the chance to move to the next grade. We have met with her teachers and their take is that she needs psychological help as she displays signs of being too sensitive, no confidence, she has a problem keeping friends and gets emotional for petty incidents. She has also been developing a bit of facial hair and this has caused her to become a bit unpopular together with the fact that she is the only child who has fully developed breasts in her class. Since last year I have asked her mum to leave work and stay at home to assist with homework. My wife spends 4 hours a day with her and we still have not seen an improvement in her results. Should we follow a process of extra school lessons, an educational psychologist or a child psychologist?

Expert's Reply

A.

Anne Cawood Anne Cawood
- 2011/11/15

Dear Jamie, This 9 year old certainly has had a lot to deal with! You do not mention if she has any idea who her biological father is. She has had to deal with really traumatic news - at a very sensitive age. I am concerned that your extended family seem to have had difficulty in integrating her into their family and hope that they have worked harder at this. Even if she is not their flesh and blood, as your wife's child, I would hope that they would work at developing close relationships with her. There is no doubt that emotional problems can impact on academic performance. But she may also be a child who has learning difficulties - and I really would recommend that you have her tested by a good Educational Psychologist. This Global Assessment will show you where her weak areas are - and her strengths. You will then have a better idea of what her true ability is - and whether she may need some remedial support. It is not good for any child's self esteem to battle at school - and constantly feel that she is a failure. She may also need some sessions with a good child Psychologist - to help her develop confidence and to learn to express her feelings. The incidents may seem petty to you - but to her they may represent much deeper problems. The Global assessment will point the best way forward for her. But it sounds as if she is in urgent need of emotional and academic support. I sincerely hope that you find the help she needs.


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