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Helping my 14yo at Boarding School

Community Member
My 14 yo is struggling to deal with her emotions at boarding school. She was assaulted at another school at the end of the year last year before going to boarding school on a sports scholarship. She did self harm after the incident and has been sent home from school at least 4 times this year. She desperately wants to be at the school but does not cope well with the academic load on top of her training commitments and when she’s tired becomes overly emotional.... help!!!
4 Replies 4

Hey Bec, thanks for reaching out to the Beyond Blue community tonight. We're sorry to hear about the difficult situation you and your daughter are in. We acknowledge how stressful and traumatic it must've been for your daughter to experience this incident of assault. Would your daughter be comfortable speaking with a school psychologist or counsellor? It might be helpful for her to work through this experience of assault with a professional and gain some advice on how to better manage difficult emotions.  You might also like to get her in touch with Kids Help Line. They are a confidential and anonymous, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged 25 and under. We’d also welcome you or your daughter to reach out to our Support Service, which is available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 3pm-12am AEST on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport. We'd also suggest getting in contact with Parentline. Talking to a Parentline counsellor can help you navigate difficult parenting dilemmas such as the one you've outlined. If you follow the link below it will take you to the contact numbers for Parentline in each State/Territory: https://kidshelpline.com.au/parents/issues/how-parentline-can-help-you We can hear how much this situation is affecting you but please know that our community is here to support you. 

Community Champion
Community Champion

hi and welcome to beyond blue.

I think Sophie_M's reply provides the best practical advice for you to follow.

I guess in my reply I just want to say that I have a small understanding of what you are saying - both of my kids have been competitive swimmers through highschool - about 4 and a bit hours of swimming each day. For other reasons it was hard around exams and assignments and trying to cut down on training was not ...

I guess the differences between your story and mine is that my kids were not on a scholarship (with assoc. expectations) and my daughter could tell mum what was going on. My daughter will go to Uni next year and will likely study part tine if only to help her find a balance between study and swimming and not getting over-stressed with things.

The questions I might ask you here are things that our daughter went through....

  • does your daughter strive for excellence in both academic and sports activities?
  • what happens if she does not meet her expectations?
  • peer pressure for not doing well?
  • outside of yourself who can she unload onto? sports psychologist?

The other thing we also did was not listen too hard to teachers about what subjects they suggested the kids should do esp. in the maths and sciences. Again, it was about finding a balance. This also depends on what our kids want to do after school.

Your daughter is awesome as she is. Remind her of that and she is only human and is doing be best she can, and that is all that can be asked of her. This is something I have to keep telling myself.


Community Member
Hi Sophie, yes she went straight into crisis counselling after the incident, then when she went to boarding school we made the school very aware of what happened. Luckily the school has their own psychologist who then recommended my daughter to an outside one. She was seeing them on a regular basis and had at least 3 support people at school on varying levels but that’s where things started to go VERY wrong. It got to a point where everyday by all of these people she was being asked had she self harmed etc. to the point my daughter at one point agreed and said yes even though she hadn’t... just to shut them up. The outside psychologist was the same but way more intense and rather than give my daughter coping skills she wanted to always talk about symptoms. At the end of last term it all came crashing down and I had to stay off campus for 4 weeks just so she could finish the term and her sporting commitments. My daughter has said some VERY weird things one of which really freaked the school out. She told them one morning after not sleeping very well that she had heard a voice in her head... so that just got turned into a massive thing that it was a ‘commanding’ voice etc etc. when we got to the bottom of it we kind of worked out it was very normal and just her sub concious working overtime. But the school sent her to ED to see a hospital psychiatrist! We are now scared to let her see another psychologist. Just yesterday she hurt her shin in the shower (not shaving but just putting the shaver on the ledge) and she immediately sought medical help from the boarding staff who turned it into a MASSIVE self harming issue and she was put onto a flight home 4 hours later. I’m feeling like the school is teaching my daughter that if she is feeling ANYTHING she can’t let them know because they will THINK she’s self harming and send her home

Community Member

Hello BecM7,

Sometimes in meaning well organisations can knee-jerk react because assuming the worst and acting upon it may mean 99% of the time the person is inconvenienced, but that 1% of the time it saves a life.*

I'm going to make a few suggestions based on a mixture of my own minions and some friends who have children that have had some troubles at school. Your mileage may vary, but it could be worth a shot.

Your daughter is going through a stressful period, as are you. It sounds like there is some crossed wires in the communication on what you expect the threshhold to be for when you want the school to be concerned vs the normal bumps n grumps of growing up. It may also be a good idea to have a conversation between the three parties, (school/parents/daughter) where she gets to participate on near equal footing about herself and the school and her care, this could enable your daughter to feel she has more control over her situation, which strengthens her self confidence etc.

Establishing some sort of code or flag she can use with the teachers in class may also be useful to help them know her overall mood, lapel pins in different colours or designs that fit within the school ethos/uniform shouldn't be too hard to sort out. If your daughter is having a good day/average day/bad day/please help I dont have the words day, then it will mean that if she is 'being a kid' and acting a little different the supervising adults have a quick reference to see if its just a kid goofing off or something more significant.

Distance is going to create problems so working on strong communication and regular 'touching base' with a clear distinction between the question, "how are you?" and "How are you?" so there isn't any confusion over if its just been a busy/rough school week or if it has been a bad day/week and there is a need to delve deeper.

Hopefully somewhat helpful.

*My apologies for the hyperbole, I should dig up the actual statistics.