I have to visit my stepmother and my dad fairly often. I don’t think she even wants me there, but I have to go ‘cos otherwise I won’t see Dad. How can I make myself happy to go and stay there? I want to enjoy my visits ‘cos it’s the only time I really see Dad. – Chelsea, 17
It’s most likely that your stepmother doesn’t have anything against you – the only reason you feel she may not enjoy your visits is probably that she’s simply unsure of how best to relate to you. She possibly thinks it’s easiest not to interact with you much, to try to avoid causing any embarrassment to either of you. This could be why you get the impression that she doesn’t want to have you around, but you should understand that it’s not because of anything about you; it’s because of her own uncertainty of how to act.
The best thing that you can do to make your times with your dad and your stepmother more enjoyable is to show your stepmother that you accept her and treat her the way you would like her to treat you. When she sees you making the effort to help her feel comfortable around you, you can expect that she will gain the courage to do the same for you.
What can I do to like school? I really don’t like it. How can I make myself enjoy it and look forward to going? – Katie, 13
When you feel that you don’t like anything about school, the way to help that is to do some thinking until you find just one thing that you do like about it. It could be: lunch break? a favourite subject? inter-school sport? When you’ve found this one positive thing, make that what you base your week around. Count down the days until the next time it’s on.
Next, work towards finding the best part of each day at school that you can look forward to (going home doesn’t count!). This way, every day you have something positive to focus on, rather than feeling drowned in all the negative things you’re more naturally aware of. Hopefully your new awareness of the positives throughout the week will make your overall school experience not look as bad as it used to – even if the only thing that has changed is how you see it!
If it is your marks that worry you and make you dislike school – or if you simply find school work difficult – you can begin to help this by picking just one of the challenging subjects that you can focus your energy on. This will be sure to help you understand it better, which in time will improve both your grades and the way you feel about it! Once you’ve done this, you can turn your attention to another challenging subject to make that less of a struggle too. As time goes on, you’ll see the big difference that eventually results from taking one small step at a time.
I’ve just started high school and I had no friends at my last school. I know I can’t change. How can I fit in when you’re just starting at a new school but have no friends? – Corrina, 13
While it’s true that there are some things about yourself that you can’t change – and there are definitely some things that you shouldn’t change – it’s important to realise that you actually do have the ability to make positive changes to help you succeed. For example, the biggest barrier to gaining friends is that others somehow feel that you are not being friendly to them. This could happen for many reasons, such as you feeling shy, or acting better than others, or being distracted by other things. The way to change this is to focus on being friendly to them, rather than simply wishing that they would automatically be friendly to you.
You can be friendly by looking at people’s eyes when they say something to you and when you say something to them. Of course smiling always helps, and maybe there are other things you can do to show people that you want to be friends, like saying something nice to them or helping them out in some way. When you are friendly to people, you’ll soon find that many of them will be friendly back, and then you have gained some friends!
When you’re starting high school, it’s helpful to remember that there are a lot of other people in the same situation as you. They’re also starting at a new school with possibly no friends from their previous school. So you don’t need to be afraid that everyone else will have friends there already – there will be plenty of people just like you looking for friendly faces! Also remember that having one good friend is more valuable than being popular with lots of people, so rather than making the mistake of trying to please everyone, just be the real you and you’ll be much more likely to gain at least one great friend who’ll be close to you.