Anxious DD (7) said she doesn't want to be alive anymore :((16 Posts)
DD has always been an anxious child and it seems to come and go. She has been scared of things like hoovers etc from a young age and things like dressed up Disney characters have always sent her into hysteria. I just assumed it was relatively normal but recently she has been more worried than normal and it is concerning me.
I went away for 4 days with friends over Easter (not unusual, DH and I leave her and DS with my parents for a few days about 4 times a year and she is normally fine). This time she was sobbing for 3 nights before I left and then kept going for the first day she was with my mum. She cries when I leave her at Brownies and is very clingy when I drop her at school.
At bed time she often says she is worried about having bad dreams which she says she has most nights.
Tonight she told me she was worried about herself and that she didn't want to be alive any more. I asked why and she said the days were going by so fast and she would be grown up soon and have to leave me. I told her that she didn't ever HAVE to leave me but chances are when she is a grown up she would want to go and do her own thing and maybe live with her friends. We discussed death a bit but she doesn't really seem to understand it and how she wouldn't be able to do anything fun anymore. I talked about all the good things that were ahead of her and how long life is and how exciting it will be. She said she was still worried
I asked if she wanted to talk to somebody about her worries and she said yes. DH then had a lighthearted chat with her and said she doesn't understand what she is saying about not being alive and she thinks it will make all bad things go away but she will still be able to see all of us.
I admit I am anxious but I try my hardest to hide it from my kids and see a counsellor so I can let it out in private. Most of the time I am confident and self assured and people are surprised to find out I am a bit of a worrier. My mum and grandma were worriers too and I feel like I have passed this on to her. I am trying to be calm and lighthearted when talking to her and saying she has nothing to worry about and to just think happy thoughts but right now I feel like crying
How can I help my baby become confident and not be plagued by these horrible feelings for life?
I didn't want to read and run. Sounds like her words have really shocked and upset you. Your doing all the right things reassuring her. I remember at that age being terrified of my family dying...I would cry myself to sleep night after night. Our reality is pretty terrifying for kids to understand.
My ds says horrible things that he doesn't understand the gravity of at times, he's six btw.
Reading this could be about me when I was a similar age.
I am a really quite anxious adult: with anxious parents!- and I have always battled with anxiety from as far back as I can remember but I went through a phase when I was about 7-8 where I got proper maudlin. I wasn't quite wearing black and listening to The Cure but wasn't far off I became quite preoccupied with death and The Future and stuff.
In all seriousness, it passed as quickly as it came and I was later told by a doctor, who I was seeing about anxiety in my teens, that anxious children are often brighter children (maybe that is what they tell all the nutters) and that a melancholy phase at 7 or 8 is more normal than a lot of people think.
The best medicine for me was lots of love and reassurance from my parents who let me know that everyone has worries and that I could always talk to them if I was anxious. I think some people are just anxious, even from a young age, but you can be taught ways to cope with it.
Hope that helps in some small way.
In your situation I would go to the GP and ask for a referral to CAMHS.
They can help with anxiety issues. It may be related to something else. Clearly, she is having trouble dealing with standard events in your life, and I think that it is something that needs to be dealt with.
Thanks. They do actually have a counselling service at her school which I was thinking about contacting. Dh is concerned that if we start making a big deal out of it she will get more anxious. I can see where he is coming from but I am not sure I should ignore it either. It does seem to be mainly at night time that she is concerned. Maybe a worry doll would help?
It's often the brightest kids who are anxious in my experience. They are thinking of scenarios long before their friends (death, leaving home etc).
My LOs can ask dozens of questions about death etc and we try being factual. They have also concocted this fantasy about living next door when they grow older. This is obviously a comfort to them so we play along. I don't think this is unusual by the way.
I was like this in childhood too. tbh, I wish my mum had taken it seriously (as you are doing) and I don't think it would be OTT for you to seek a referral to CAMHS. I don't see how that would make it worse. It's pretty bad already, isn't it? I'm not saying your dd is at risk of not functioning - I'm sure she'll get along - but a childhood lived in fear and anxiety is no fun at all, and if you can find some good, sensitive help for her I'm sure you should.
Poor little girl. Hope things pick up for her soon.
I think it is unlikely she would meet thresholds for Camhs tbh. I have 8 yr old DD who has said similar in past. I did take her to the Gp at schools suggestion (after I discussed it with them) and he said possibly attention seeking behaviour. Whilst I'm not sure I entirely agree my instinct did find the matter of factness of this response reassuring and lessened the natural anxiety I had started to feel for her. She too is the brightest of her year. I came to the conclusion that yes life is hard on lots of ways for her but she has no choice in the matter and might as well teach her some skills for resilience and good mental health for later in life namely friends, hobbies, regular exercise, pursuing things other than money. Don't despair & be positive!
The people working with children will be trained on how to deal with it accordingly so I wouldn't worry about it being made a big deal of. I am training as an art therapist and have also looked at play therapy, they use really clever ways of assessing what's going on. Btw- I was like this as a child also, my father died before I was born and so I was always very aware of death, terrified of my mum dying and carried this anxiety through to adulthood. My childhood was basically filled with worry, and I really recommend seeking professional advice, I think it's a good thing that due to your own experience you understand your daughter's anxieties and are taking them seriously. Good luck!
She might not meet the threshold for CAMHS but that is for CAMHS to decide, not the GP. It is easy to write anxiety issues off as other things, and I think they often get disregarded as unimportant.
Maybe she will grow out of it, maybe it's nothing. But it is affecting your every day life, and I think that means you should seek help. If it is nothing, CAMHS will tell you that - but they will not tell you that you have wasted your time.
Oh dear, how distressing for you and your DD.
I have a child like this too. It reached a peak when he was 7-8 and without wanting to go into the details of it, he did reach the threshold for CAMHS and we got help from them.
What I remember them saying is that children below the age of 13 or so are unable to understand the consequences of death and therefore they do not treat suicidal thoughts as seriously as they would if an adult said that. However, please do not dismiss her anxiety entirely. I would definitely go and talk to your GP if I were you, because even if she doesn't really mean she wants to be dead, she is still obviously very anxious.
Several things helped my DC:
1. The people from CAMHS taught us to talk about feelings. Not dismissing thoughts by trying to "make things better" all the time. Just naming and acknowledging your child's feelings so they have the vocab to express how they feel.
2. I took him to a funeral. I know that might seem weird, but it showed him how incredibly upset people were when someone close to them died. We discussed the impact of someone's death on their family & how distraught we would all be if one of our DCs died.
3. I got him to talk to a trusted friend who had also found childhood hard but who had grown up to be a successful and happy adult. We discussed that not everyone finds growing up easy and that's OK. That being a child means finding out who you are; you are a work in progress and things will change.
4. Eventually we discovered that my DC's condition was worsened by a prescribed medication he was on for an unrelated condition. So do look carefully at any medicines you are giving your DD in case depression / mood alteration/ sleep disturbance is a known side-effect.
5. Loads and loads and loads of reassurance.
Now as a teenager my DC is hugely better than he was when he was 7-8. I think he will likely always be highly-strung and a bit of a worrier, but this also makes him caring, affectionate and compassionate. I wouldn't change him for the world.
Thanks ladies. We had another chat this morning and it is clear she doesn't really understand what she is saying about not wanting to be alive anymore as I asked her what would happen if she wasn't alive and she didn't know it would be dead. I went through all the things that would happen as she grew up and asked if she was worried about those things (learning to drive, going to senior school etc etc). The only things that seemed to bother her were going to senior school and moving out. I said that she would probably go to the same school as most of the children in her class now anyway so it is more like moving to a new building than anything else. I also said that she can live with me for as long as she likes so she doesn't need to worry about it.
I have just bought her one of these so she can write down her worries and I can sneak in at night and take them away so I have a better idea of what is going on in her head! Hopefully it will help with the fear of bad dreams too.
This was the part of me I least wanted to pass on to be honest. Worry is such a crap emotion
I think I will give it a few weeks and see how she is before I start thinking about referring her. She is normally a very happy child and rarely talks about worries so I want to see if this is a funny blip before I make any decisions.
Sorry xposted with you zxcv123 - will just go back and read your post
Can I go and talk to my GP about her without her being there? I don't want her to start seeing this as a big deal.
Thanks for your ideas zxcv123. I am unsure about the funeral thing, more because I am concerned she might become frightened of the idea of death. Although she will have to face it soon enough I suppose. MILs dog died last year which upset her but she does have a little experience of death.
She is not on any medication and never has been so no link there. I like your idea about talking to someone who found childhood hard. I suppose that would be me! I was very anxious and shy but have grown up to be very confident and in control of my worries.
Yes, you can definitely go and talk to your GP without your DD being there. I'd think that would be preferable to be honest.
I understand that going to a funeral might not be the best idea for every child. My DC's behaviour was much more extreme than your DD's.
I hope that you talking to her about how you found childhood hard, helps. Don't make it about her, make it about you. "Did I ever tell you that when I was 7 I used to worry a lot about x,y,z and I sometimes used to get bad dreams?" etc.
My DS has just turned 7 and also has said similar things and been anxious, particularly at the start of year 2. He often says he doesn't enjoy being a kid. I would highly recommend this which helped my DS enormously by acknowledging his feelings and realising he was not alone.
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