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DS 15 refusing school / gaming addiction. Advice needed please.

(15 Posts)
lou4791 Wed 29-Aug-12 17:20:09

My 15 year old son has always been quite an introvert and disliked attention, but within the last few months he has become quite withdrawn. After being predicted top grades at the start of year 10, some of his grades have dropped significantly, and a few of his teachers are worried about him. He is also spending less and less time with the family and more time on his X Box in his room. This has been what he has been doing for most of the summer, even though he has been encouraged to join the rest of the family, with days out planned around him. The last time things reached a head, and his X Box was removed, he refused school , fitted a lock on his room, and took items of ours away in retaliation.
He is quite uncommunicative, but I have managed to draw some things out of him about how he feels. He says he is so self consious that he feels he can't even walk or talk in front of people without strong anxiety. He feels he has nothing to look forward to and feels like no one cares about him. He won't let me hug him and tells me to get out of his room ( I knock and wait for him to answer before going in).
I know the X Box needs to go or have strict sanctions put on it, but I am worried that as this is his 'drug' and only form of socialising, to remove it when he is at such a low point would push him over the edge. I feel I need advice on this from someone who specialises in addiction, but don't know where to turn for this.
He is refusing to go back to school tomorrow. From talking to him, I gather that there are no bullying issues as such, just dreadful low self esteem that is having a big impact on all areas of life.
I have promised i will help him, but i'm not sure where to turn.

Japple Thu 30-Aug-12 12:52:31

...Hello,dear.Sorry the young man is behaving like a recluse,however,there
are several helpful roads that one can go down to Answer to his private suffering. The First,(please Don't Flinch!), as I speak from "Massive Experience"
is to have the Mental-Health provider Give Him the Test for-Schitzophrenia.
Why? Because a Dreadful "Fear" has taken Hold of him;and what one Fears,
One runs Away from.He is "Running"from his very Life.This Paranoia is Very
Common in our world...and can run in families...from Way Back.A little daily
Medication, and he'll iron-out in 3-4 weeks.Plus, an extremely balanced diet
Will be necessary.NO Junk foods.This is just "Square 1". Start here. Jill.

lou4791 Fri 31-Aug-12 15:33:21

Thank you Jill.
I took him to the GP yesterday where he disclosed that he does think about harming himself and taking his own life. Very hard to hear as a mother. He has been referred as urgent to CAHMS. I would imagine that the exact nature of his MH problem will be assessed with them . However I gather that the waiting list is a long one, so I am looking into some private councelling in the meantime. Not sure what to do about school- I have left a message on the attendance answerphone saying he is ill, but if absence continues into next week, as it is very likely to, i'll need to properly discuss issues with them.

guineapiglet Sat 01-Sep-12 18:11:36

Hi - have some experience of CAMHS - have been there for support and counselling for my child aged 16 over past 2 years. - We found them to be utterly professional, caring, and supportive - do hope you can get on this list soon - they will treat your son sensitively and helpfully. Think the idea of private counselling is a good one, and don't worry about school - I made an appointment with the Head of Year and went to talk directly about what had been going on, he was extremely supportive and they did everything in their power to assist - there is such a stigma attached to "mental health" -I lost friends through it all, (realise that tells you more about them than it does you!) so be prepared. To be honest, you do feel like you have let your child down and slightly "ashamed: - dont think like that. You just have to be there with him and for him and get him in good hands. I know what you mean about hearing things that you dont want to as well, it is very upsetting, but so much better that these things are out, spoken and that he has acknowledged how he feels in front of you - then the healing process can begin. Good luck

lou4791 Mon 03-Sep-12 12:24:59

Thank you Guinea.
How is your child now? Were they away from school for any length of time? It's strange- I don't know how we got to this point. There has been no incident that has set things off, but I find myself with a DS who can hardly interact with the outside world, when previously he had been ok.

guineapiglet Mon 03-Sep-12 13:01:27

Hi again - very long story Im afraid, in a nutshell, my child had a horrible virus at the end of Y9 leaving Chronic Fatigue in its wake - so about 6 weeks off school for that. This brought upon feelings of panic and anxiety which became overpowering with the stress of Year 10 and 11 .Like you, I could not understand how we got to the point of going to CAMHS - it all took on a life of its own. Whenever we went there were teenagers of all shapes and sizes getting help and input for a variety of situations, I think we massively underestimate the impact of change and adolesence, growth, hormones etc - they are at their most vulnerable it seems to me EVEN with supportive family, stable home conditions etc. It seems to me most teenagers at some point could do with a counsellor, away from the family to get to the root of problems independently of parents, who are often part of the problem. You may have to be cruel, stand up to him about the games, take them away from him, but do so with the reassurance that he is speaking to someone and this is an agreed strategy. The counsellors talk to them as adults, they take them seriously, and they support them, whereas sometime parents feel they can do none of these things.

It left me utterly exhausted and wrung out, but we have come through it. My child passed all GCSEs taken, despite being asked to do a reduced timetable/go the home schooling route/losing many friends who simply did not want to understand. It is to my child's utter credit, that, determination, the ability to deal with the whole situation maturely and having someone wholeheartedly in support ensured that it was not a downward spiral. Hope all goes well, hopefully you can begin to make progress, it is slow, painful and you dearly wish you could do it for them, but it will be alright in the end.

mindfulmum Thu 06-Sep-12 10:07:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

vivimum Thu 06-Sep-12 13:33:37

wow... well done for seeking support when you did as I know how very alone you can get when its your child and no one else wants to put the effort in.. I stupidly listened to my husband "he'll grow out of it" "its his age" " would you rather he be out causing trouble"
I wish I had acted on my instinct as believe me the older they get and the longer they are allowed to stay in that little bubble of protection in their room the harder it is to communicate with them.
My son started playing x box around 12 and used to have friends at the door constantly.. then they were apparently all online speaking and accepting this as socialising, the football stopped and the friends stopped coming round..he then convinced me it was his form of interacting and if I took it away he would speak to no one!!
When he started college he still did not get involved after hours although popular within his group..it was always back to gaming as he had 'done his bit'.
My son is now 19 and we have been through hell with his addiction to x box even to the point I have thrown it out the window and ran over it with the car.. he bought another!
His restricted internet causes no end of trouble as the rest of the family feel they are being punished also.
I have now suggested he moves to a place of his own which is difficult as he's not a bad son and I fear he will be lost to his virtual world but I am getting no support from family and my son does not think he has a problem!!
Pull the plug is my advice before another son/child is lost.
I have two other children,a son at 22 and a daughter at 11 who are involved in music, sport and are very active and sociable.
Parents will always feel they failed, I know I could have done more, you really do need proper advice.

TeenProbsSolved Fri 07-Sep-12 17:25:37

You (as parents) need to take some control of this...feels like the dog wagging the tail which is not unusual with loving, caring parents...but actually you need to get in charge. This, of course, needs to be balanced with lots of attention, positives, time spent with your son...albeit difficult to achieve currently, but that is the key...you in charge as the grown up, lots of positives and construction by you of situations that will enable positives; but actually the bottom line is this sort of behaviour is not acceptable and will only escalate if you don`t step in and take charge. Your son doesn`t need therapy; he needs strong, loving parenting with clear boundaries being set about what is Ok and what is not OK. You clearly are getting the 'love' right but need to focus on the rest. Good Luck

lou4791 Sat 08-Sep-12 11:02:24

Thanks so much for these recent replies. As an update I have sought some private councelling with someone who has lots of experience as a school councellor for this age and after a couple of meetings, my DS returned to school yesterday with some support put in place for him.

I have had lots of contradictory advice in my searches from various sources ranging from going cold turkey to concentrating on the cause of the addiction until he is in a position to play a part in reducing/removing the x-box symptom, as it is obviously his coping mechanism in some way.

Vivi- Thank you for sharing your difficult situation. I am tempted to throw the thing out of the window on a daily basis.

Mindful- So good to hear things are more positive for your daughter. I actually don't think we have a good relationship at all. He says few words to me and often looks at me like he hates me. We used to be very close.

Teenprob- The boundaries are set, but when they are broken I am stuck for what to do. I managed the childhood years with reasonable, firm, loving boundaries with very few problems but these teenage years are so different. An example occured last night. I am wanting to go to bed for around half ten and want DS in bed before me so i can make sure house is safe and everything is off. DS knows this but pushes it by a long way. I knock on his door to remind him..i get a grunt....20 mins later I tell him to sort himself out for bed again...another 20 monutes later there's some movement and he's sorting his laptop downstairs to download something overnight ( not allowed in his room overnight- he's keeping to this house rule at least)... 10 minutes later he's turning on lights and the family tv that i've already turned off and helping himself to cereal. It's now half eleven. I turn off the tv, say this is not acceptable and tell him to go to bed. He turns it back on and lays on the sofa. I ask him why he behaving like this- he says my rules are pathetic and he is old enough to stay up later than me. After a stand off with me talking, him ignoring he then goes off to his room, slamming the door. I honestly don't know how to enforce things better. If I was having problems parenting a toddler there would be lots of help and support available. I can manage babies, toddlers and children quite easily, but now he is bigger than me, angry, and obviously hurting, and there is no help or guidance. Are you experienced with this age group?

guineapiglet Tue 11-Sep-12 11:08:33

Hi - hope things are working a bit better for you all - you are right, there is no route map for deling with teenagers, but a lot of what you describe seems very typical - this is why CAMHS is so helpful., they do have experience of dealing with teenagers, and are specialised to do so. However there are times when I wish they would run the sessions for parents as well - we all know teenagers can be peverse and alot of behaviour is insecurity, attention seeking, reassurance seeking etc - our experience was that CAMHS staff managed to get to the root of the problem. Maybe you could find out if there is a specialised support group near you to discuss it all with - we all try hard to be reasonable and fair when we can see our kids struggling ,but it does take its toll on us as well and we need to be prepared to deal with issues as they arise.

guineapiglet Tue 11-Sep-12 19:32:21

Just found a very helpful website called Young Minds, who offer support and counselling for parents of teenagers.Wish I had found it 2 years ago, but they were helpful with me today.

lou4791 Wed 12-Sep-12 13:04:18

Thanks Guinea.
I found Young Minds too. The web site is good and they have sent me some leaflets. I have also got myself enrolled onto a local 'Parenting teenagers' workshop run by Relate.
I am finding this grey area of my son not being a child, but not yet being an adult very difficult.
But this too will pass. I wish I just wish I knew when :-).

guineapiglet Wed 12-Sep-12 13:15:16

Hi would be interested to hear how the teenagers workshop goes - I will look to see if there is one locally here.

You are right, the boundary between child and adult is a minefield, with their legal rights, your parental concerns, their pushing of all the boundaries- but they are still living under your roof, you are responsible for them and you love them = that is the bottom line for a parent. If you can get this bit right and sorted, the rest will happen hopefully once you can get to the bottom of where is at, so to speak. Let me know how it goes.

CuriousMama Tue 18-Sep-12 12:32:51

I'm having problems with ds1 too. He's year 10 and almost 15. He's not getting into trouble or anything but isn't socialising, is on the internet or xbox most of the time but says this is mainly because his friends don't/won't go out either. He has tried to get them to meet up but they just talk online. DS2 is yr 7 and never in on a night, always out on his scooter or playing football. He'll be in more as the nights get darker but a friend or 3 will be there too, or he'll go to theirs. He, ds2,had trouble fitting in at first but we only moved her 2 years ago. Plus he has SN, possibly ASD so that made it difficult for him but now he has friends. DS1 is very popular, witty and a great lad to be around but he's becoming depressed and bored. He's top of all his main subjects,it's only P.E. he struggles with although he's very fit just not into football. At his school it's alien to not be into football hmm I had a chat with him last night and he said he feels sad and angry. I said it could be teen hormones and the fact he doesn't do anything but xbox etc.. and he agrees.

Today I rang his school and asked about after school activities. They have drama on Thursdays which I know he's love as he's such an actor and can be hilarious. He loves a bit of attention. It's just getting him to do it. The receptionist at school also said there's a great youth centre in the town, we live in a village 2 to 3 miles out. I'll try to get him to go there too?
I've also made an appointment with the GP, alone first to see what she says then I'll take ds1. Or perhaps she'll advise CAHMS too? DS1 is already with them. I've found them to be good so far.

Good luck OP, it's heartbreaking I know. And so frustrating not knowing what to do for the best? I hope your ds will come through this and soon.

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