‘Lauren thought her friends were better than her’

Lauren was always a quiet girl but when she went up to secondary school at 11, she seemed down all the time and even the things she normally enjoyed like our Saturday shopping trips didn’t cheer her up.

After a few months, I started to worry about her but every time I tried chatting to her, she said she was fine. When we went to a parents evening at her new school, a couple of teachers mentioned how shy Lauren was. Even though she’s bright, she didn’t answer any questions in class and was finding it hard to make friends.

When we got home, I talked to her again. I asked her gently if anything was wrong and slowly it all came out. Lauren said she felt like all the other girls at school were prettier and more confident than her. She said she felt babyish compared to them and that she was scared of making friends with them.

I hadn’t realised how low her self-esteem had got and asked what would help. Lauren said she’d like to invite a couple of new friends round but was too nervous. I encouraged her to go for it and together we went shopping for snacks and a DVD for them to watch. The evening went really well and after that Lauren did seem happier.

Now I always make sure I ask Lauren in detail about her day at school and try and help her whenever I can. Sometimes it’s giving her a treat like a new haircut but it doesn’t always have to cost money – just chatting about her life seems to help.
Yvonne Dixon, 42, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire