Support thread for parents of anxious children

(178 Posts)
eggsfloursugarbutter Fri 07-Dec-12 12:01:22

I thought I'd start this as I have a very anxious DS and I feel that I am the only one in RL. I figured that there must be lots of us out there and it always helps to feel like you are not alone.

My DS is 4.4 and started school in September. He has not found it easy since the beginning, but since returning after being off sick last week, he has been so anxious that he has vomited every morning in the classroom sad. His crying is what I would call "hysterical".

Trying to get out the door in the morning is a battle, with him running back up the stairs, clinging onto the door frame and refusing to put his shoes and coat on.

He has been quite a clingy/anxious child since he was a baby, so it is not just exclusive to school. He is terrified of going to the dentist, Father Christmas, dressed up characters, parties, trying new things, the list goes on. At this stage, I don't know if there is an underlying reason for it, or whether it is solely anxiety, but I am working closely with the school and GP to monitor it.

I am also 6 months pregnant, with not a lot of support around me and finding it quite difficult and stressful. So if you are going through something similar or have done in the past, then please post it here and perhaps we can all help each other smile.

Ineedmorepatience Mon 14-Jan-13 14:42:54

Hi dilys, You are right that there is no clearly defined line between "normal" and sn's, my Dd3 is highly intelligent but has some quite significant SN's relating to her autism.

It is really difficult when you know that your child doesnt speak at nursery, Dd3 used to be like this at school. It is good though that he is talking to the other children, really goodsmile

I think positive reinforcement bribery is ok to encourage a behaviour that you want to see. Especially as he enjoys it in the end. It takes some children longer to remember the feelings that they had when they enjoyed something especially when he has to get over the anxiety first.

Another thing you might need to consider is how he finds transitions, if he finds it hard to move from one thing to another it can cause anxiety too. Moving from being in a quiet house with his family into a noisy party full of children can be really hard but once he has adjusted and relaxed he might enjoy it.

Personally I would keep up with the plastic toysgrin so long as he does settle after a while. If he stops settling I would stop for a while and try again when he is abit older.

Good lucksmile

madcows Tue 15-Jan-13 15:01:28

Hi there,
Haven't read the whole thread, but just wanted to add a recommendation for the 'What to do if you worry too much' book. My ds (now 9) was/is a real worrier, and this time last year we were really struggling. He was having several extreme 'attacks' or phases each day, and it was getting worse. He'd always been like that, but it really began to effect everything he did. After several trips to GP we got a referral to CAMHS, but before the appt came thro' we discovered this book online and thought we'd give it a go. It worked fantastically well for us... It has given him a language to talk about his anxieties, and effective strategies to cope with them. We keep a log of them (each one is given a mark out of 10 for how bad it was, how long it lasted, and what the 'spark' was) which helps us keep track of how he is doing.

We still have periods of time when they return (in the last few weeks, for example, they've got worse again), so we get the book out again, reread sections of it. But the difference between where we are today to this time last year is amazing. He is very aware of the progress he has made, and we tell him how proud we are of how he has done. He feels now that he is able to manage his worries - even if they never go away altogether.

Hope this helps some of you. (It is a little 'American' in language, but you can overlook that! There is also one called What to do if you dread your bed.)
madcows

Ineedmorepatience Wed 16-Jan-13 16:23:59

Thanks madcows I will have a look at that.

Dd3 has done some work with the SENCO, using breathing techniques which she has had some success with. One of the problems with Dd3 is that she struggles with transferring skills. This is where the ASD kicks in, she can do many things at school that she cant do at home and vice versa.

Ineedmorepatience Sun 20-Jan-13 09:46:21

Just thought I would bump this incase anyone is having a hard timesmile

funnyfeet Sun 20-Jan-13 11:11:26

Hi all, we have had a mixed week. This weekend has been good although we took ds out to play in the snow and he kept getting tearful as he couldn't roll a snowball to make a snowman! That sounds very minor to us but to him it was huge! I think he finds it really hard when things don't go as he planned, and he finds feeling of disappointment very distressing. I don't like to pander to him, but don't like to ignore him when he's upset. I find it hard to get the right balance!
I have written a letter to the doctor, and will be dropping it off this week when I have read it and amended it about a million times!!

Ineedmorepatience Wed 23-Jan-13 17:38:14

Hi funny feet I hope you managed to sort your letter out and that your GP is helpful.

Wanted to bump this for another parent with an anxious child.

Ineedmorepatience Wed 23-Jan-13 20:38:33

Bump for jackstersmile

Jacksterbear Wed 23-Jan-13 22:35:31

Thanks Ineedmore.

Hi all, is it ok if I join in this thread? Have a nearly 6yo ds who has always been anxious but is now having increasingly extreme emotional outbursts, over going to school in particular but also over other things including going to bed. Have met with his teacher today to discuss and we have agreed a number of things the can do to support him (including regular meetings, home/school liaison book, "safe place" for him at school), and she is also going to speak to the senco/inclusion officer to see what she thinks.

Have been worrying myself sick over him but feeling a bit better now i know school are onto it; also delighted to have found this thread! Will write more detail tomorrow but just wanted to say hello now!

Ineedmorepatience Thu 24-Jan-13 16:38:25

Hi again jackster, I am glad you found the thread, it has been a little quiet over the last couple of weeks.

Maybe lots of the children are more settled after the stresses of christmas.

Dd3 is certainly less anxious at the moment, apart from the snow messing around with her routines.

Keep coming on here and hopefully some of the other posters will pop in and say Hi.smile

Jacksterbear Thu 24-Jan-13 17:15:09

Hi Ineedmore. smile. Yes, the disruption to routine caused by the snow has very obviously been affecting ds badly too. Hopefully now normal routine is beginning to be restored things are on the up.

Received the school-home book today in ds' book bag; teacher has written a helpful summary of how he got on today (good) plus what they are doing tomorrow, so I can talk him through his day before school tomorrow.

Have been reading through thread and am seeing lots of very familiar descriptions on here! Particularly eggs' description of a schoolday morning meltdown in the OP!

Jacksterbear Fri 25-Jan-13 19:42:40

Ds' birthday today. Had a few of his friends for a birthday tea at our house - thought this would be ok as low-key, but he still spent at least half the time hiding in his bed under the covers :-(.

Ineedmorepatience Fri 25-Jan-13 19:50:09

Bless him jackster

Dd3 often gets overwhelmed if there are a lot of people in our house. She finds it really hard to share her stuff or even let other children touch it.

Tbh, we tend to avoid having other children round. She does have some friends but copes better in neutral places.

Sorry your ds didnt enjoy his party tea, I hope the rest of his birthday went ok.

dilys4trevor Mon 28-Jan-13 12:02:38

Hi all,
We had a good weekend with DS1 with some great mixing at a party BUT it was haircut time and this is a very traumatic experience for him, every time. He pulls his hair so we have to keep it very short. We stopped doing salons as the scenes are too much and he prefers Daddy doing it, but still there is a lot of hystercial screaming and 'daddy, please stop, you're hurting me' which must have the neighbours debating over whether to call in SS! We obviously are gentle but have to hold him down a bit to get it done as he thrashes about. The alternative is almost constant hair pulling (which leaves bald spots and sends him into a bit of a trance). Otherwise I would just let him grow it but we've noticed he is loads less anxious when there is no hair to pull.
Jackster, I know what you mean about the hiding upstairs. We get that sometimes. Very frustrating. The home/school liason book sounds great, as does the safe place. I will be using this stuff when school starts in Sept if needs be. It doesn't take much to send me back in my head to my early days at primary school and I would have benefitted hugely from stuff like that (I was extremely anxious as a child).

Jacksterbear Mon 28-Jan-13 16:54:56

Hi dilys, that sounds traumatic! DS used to be like this with hair cuts, but has been ok for about the last 2 years now. Hair washing on the other hand...!

Interesting that quite a few of the parents on this thread are or were also anxious people. I know I am. It's not hard to see how, however much you try not to transmit it to your DCs, they do pick up on it and it becomes a vicious circle - the more you worry about them being anxious the worse they get! sad

Ineedmore, one of the things I worry about with DS is him missing out socially and losing friends, the more "aware" they become of other children being "different" and not participating in parties, play-dates etc. Have you found this has happened to your DD3?

Ineedmorepatience Mon 28-Jan-13 22:03:33

It is slightly different for us jackster because Dd3 has a diagnosis of ASD so friends are tricky for her anyway.

She does have a couple of lovely friends who are happy to accept her for who she is but who wouldnt flicker if she didnt go to a party or event.

To be fair though she quite like parties so long as they are not in a church hall[too noisy]. She has her own coping strategies for dealing with parties and is usually fine so long as she can escape and relax at home at the end.

As I said before I try to organise trips out and meet ups on neutral ground such as the park or something that way she is still socialising but I can keep it fairly short and there is nobody touching her stuffsmile

There are ways around traditional play dates, good lucksmile

ledkr Mon 28-Jan-13 22:05:58

Can I just place mark? I need to sleep but I have a dd who just turned 11 and is extremely anxious. Ill be back tomorrow.

Ineedmorepatience Tue 29-Jan-13 14:10:48

Welcome ledkr smile

LapinDeBois Tue 29-Jan-13 15:47:55

Hi, I'm not sure I quite belong on this thread, as DS1 is much more mild in his anxieties than some others, but I still thought I'd say hello. Also, I thought I could maybe provide a bit of optimism, as DS1 has progressed steadily from being a nightmare baby and extremely anxious toddler to a much more settled and confident five year old. He accepts change and new situations much more readily than he used to, and he appears to have settled very well into school, including being ok socially (he went to his first party alone the other day, which was a major breakthrough). He still has some difficulties, though. The main one is that he's very scared of lots of things - particularly any stories/programmes featuring any mean or scary characters. So far it hasn't been too much of a problem, as he's just avoided them, but now that all the boys at school seem to be into Star Wars and Scooby Doo, I'm worried he might start to get teased for still watching CBeebies. He's also nervous of being on his own in certain situations - he won't get out of bed in the morning without one of us going in to him, for example. He's still tricky with transitions - lots of sulkiness and occasional tearfulness when he moves from school to home, or home to school, or one activity to another. And he still suffers from problems with negativity - not wanting to do new things even when it's something really fun. But the difference from 1 or 2 years ago (when he would never speak to a stranger, or play with other kids, or accept any change in routine) is just phenomenal. I'm really interested by those book recommendations - I think I'll give them a go.

Ineedmorepatience Tue 29-Jan-13 18:06:11

Hi lapin, feel free to join us. It is really good to hear that your Ds has made progress.

I wouldnt worry too much about him not watching the same as the other boys. I bet half of them are still watching cbeebies too, they just wont admit to itwink

We have always avoided branded clothing and stuff and gone for funky or unusual things instead. That way no one knows what the favoured TV programme is.

Good lucksmile

Jacksterbear Tue 29-Jan-13 20:50:47

lapin I have just ordered the What to do when you worry too much book - will let you know how it goes!

We are having a much better week this week after the week from hell last week. Ds' "special job" first thing in the morning (he is in charge of moving the arrow on the visual timetable displayed on his classroom wall, of which he is very proud!) plus talking through, before school, his activities for that day which his teacher has been writing in his book the previous day, are working wonders. smile. Hope you are all having a good week too.

alicatte Tue 29-Jan-13 21:03:36

I had a friend who had a son like this. She began taking him home for lunch and it worked. Then my (now18 year old) son didn't like school either to start with (had been fine in nursery school but that was only a morning) so I tried it too and it worked a dream. We then eased him into staying for lunch by my joining the 'lunchtime team' for a couple of weeks. He made some friends and I reduced to a visit with the lunchbox at the beginning. Then he told me he wanted to take his lunchbox in by himself. All over in 5 weeks - the school advised me and helped so all credit to them too.

Ineedmorepatience Tue 29-Jan-13 21:36:38

Great news jackster, that is very positivesmile

alicatte, what a sensible approach to helping a child settle into full time school.

The school my Dd3 now goes to uses a lot of common sense strategies.

Sadly her old school was a dictatorship and common sense was rarely appliedconfused

Jacksterbear Wed 30-Jan-13 14:23:05

The "What to do..." book arrived this morning and I've just flicked through it myself while DS is at school and DD is sleeping. My initial reaction is that it's not all that relevant to DS because I'm not so sure that he actually does spend time worrying about stuff. I think he rather reacts to stuff as it happens and doesn't really know why he does. His anxiety manifests itself in hysterical tantrums etc rather than in spending time brooding and thinking about things that worry him. (Unlike me - I am the ultimate obsessive worrier!) Does this make sense to anyone else??! confused I will give the book a try with him anyway, to see if he recognises himself in it.

Ineedmore and alicatte good to see some positive stories! smile

BeaWheesht Wed 30-Jan-13 14:28:16

I just wanted to say well done to you all. I was very anxious as a child - primarily because of a series of traumatic events. No-one in the early 90s really acknowledged mental health issues ime and certainly not in kids and as much as my mum supported me I vividly remember beig old off if I cried or if I showed my anxiety - by teachers and parents. It was so hard and I'm so relieved to see that all of your kids have more understanding in their lives. grin

Jacksterbear Fri 01-Feb-13 20:06:56

Thanks Bea smile

Hope everybody has a good weekend. Things with DS have been, on the whole, good this week. Not a miracle cure but big improvements.

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