Teen anxious about new school and no friends

Hi, 

My child is transferring to the WCCUSD to attend Pinole Valley High School. This is her first year and she is having a lot of anxiety and fear because she does not know anyone. She tells me she is fears looking like a loner and is making plans to spend her first few days in the bathroom during lunch time. Her anxiety spikes at night and I am really trying to find connections for her. Unfortunately, the school will not host a meet and greet so meeting other scholars before hand is not an option. I want to think that I am giving her good advice about her feelings and how to manage this transition. At this point I guess that I am looking for more advice on how to easy my own anxiety of seeing her overthink this. I totally understand that her feeling are valid, I just want to be more encouraging and have more insight to offer her. She is definitely shy and breaking the ice what she struggles with. Once she is in a comfortable space, she really is talkative and just really a typical teen looking for connections. 

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My son went to the library for lunch (although he did have some friends who also went to the library with them).  Also he was in a club that met once a week at lunch.  I do recommend trying to find a few ways to connect, maybe via asking specifically on Next-door or possibly the school counselor could suggest?

It's so hard. I went to a high school where I knew no one. I got involved in sports and joined clubs, but I did eat alone for the first few weeks. I'm 47 and I still remember those feelings. It probably won't be great for her for a little while, but she'll be ok. And if she has off campus lunch, and if your schedule permits, maybe schedule a lunch date with her. 

Hi,

It sounds like you have a good relationship with your daughter, as she has confided her preoccupation about this new experience with you.  My kid was one of those who hid in the restroom for at least 2 years during high school and it has resulted in a lot of pain for our family as he continues to struggle with anxiety. Could your daughter check into volunteering in the office or library during the lunch hour?  This would enable her to stay busy rather than practicing avoidance. Also if there is some way she could befriend a future classmate before school starts that would be ideal.  There are some clubs that will no doubt meet during lunch and they will likely welcome new members.  It might sound odd, but sometimes asking someone that looks to be new and/or shy to have lunch together can result in a friendship being formed.  I wish you the very best, as high school can be a challenging time for our loved ones.

This is a tough situation. It sounds like you and your daughter have a strong relationship in that she is talking with you about her fears. Do whatever you can to keep that going—listen, ask if she'd like advice or if she wants you to just listen, and keep quiet if she says no to the advice.

My daughter was in a similar situation, moving from a small private school to a large public high school where she knew no-one. She tends to be reserved, quiet, and studious (and often anxious), yet playful and talkative with friends. We talked about expectations, how she's careful and thoughtful in making friends and that making new ones may take some time. She thought a realistic goal would be to have a friend by the end of the first semester, and decided if she ate alone for a semester, that would be unpleasant, but she could manage it.

Your daughter may have already started school by this point, so this comment may not help, but I'll share it anyway. Find some extra-curricular to join, before classes begin if possible. My daughter joined the tennis team because practices started before classes began. She had played a little, and was by no means a tennis player. This provided an opportunity for her to get to know a small group before landing on the large campus. She arranged to eat lunch with one of her teammates the first day and never looked back. She quickly connected with a small group of similar students in her classes and shifted away from her teammate. The group would generally arrange a meeting spot which soon became a beloved teacher's classroom.

Her social group shifted over the years as the typical high school drama arose and she opted out. I would not have anticipated this, but she was alone only when she chose to be. Having relationships with a couple of trusted teachers was key. When the drama got to be too much, she had lunch in a classroom and often found a supportive moment. She's starting college this year, moving across the country to a different culture where she knows no-one (other than the roommate she's met through asocial media)—and she's much more excited than anxious.

The high school years are tough. Help her set realistic expectations, get what she can out of it, and in my daughter's words know: if high school are the best years of your life, you're in trouble.

I have had good luck meeting people through nextdoor and meetup. Set something  up in a park near the school. Other teens are also anxious about going to a new school. Tell everyone to wear a red shirt or a tie so they can find each other.