Anxious and stressed 11 year old son - anyone got advice as I'm struggling

(36 Posts)
redandblack Fri 23-Nov-12 11:03:16

Hi,

My son has always been a sensitive lad but this last year he has got increasingly anxious and it has swollen into a huge problem right now. He says he just wants to be with me and anytime away from me he feels awful - it seemed to start around the time he went away with his primary school for a weeks holiday at the beginning of the year. Then senior school came and that has thrown him all over the place.

On the surface it has all gone well, he likes most of the teachers, has made some really good new friends as well as still being with firm long time friends from his last school. He has been put in the top set for all subjects and gets good marks for his work and he has enjoyed joining a couple of after school clubs. He swears blind there is no problem as such at school, no problem with other kids, no problem with teachers or work.

Every morning he is shaking with nerves, he says school makes him feel awful, he wants to die and he refuses to go. I have to be really firm and after much effort I get him up there - the school have been very supportive and given us lots of help. They let him go to a pupil services room at the start of the day and ease him into some lessons that he feels he can manage. It just seems to be getting worse and worse as the weeks go on despite trying lots of different ideas to try and talk through his fears, get him books to help and relaxation tapes etc etc. Each evening he starts stressing about the next day and we just seem to be going round and round in circles.

I asked for help and councelling through the GP (I think talking therapies like CBT can really work) but the waiting list was 8 months to be seen, the school councellor is fully booked right now and they have no funding for another one...given up and gone private despite struggling to find the money - what's money though compared to my son's peace of mind? I went through the doctor and have appointment with a phychologist on Saturday morning. Fingers crossed.

Hoping he will now get some intensive help to get him through this rotten time but has anyone got any brilliant tips that worked for them or just some reassurance that their kid got some help and managed to beat this rotten anxiety?

redandblack Wed 28-Nov-12 10:18:08

Thanks for all the messages and support xx

My son got anxious before he went on the school trip earlier this year - it seemed to be the idea of being away without contact for 5 days and that the week was full of physical challenges and activities (he hates sports!) I think this is a general anxiety he has which surfaces at times of high stress for him, such as the school trip, changing schools and it has grown to be around more often than not now even if there no longer seems an obvious reason.

GP was unhelpful and said waiting list for help on NHS was 8 months plus so we are going private (bloomin' expensive!) not about to start at fight to get the help on NHS as DS needs help right now.

I do think DS needs to talk through his feelings about me and his dad splitting up and my illness - sure these have had an effect on his anxiety - hoping this private doc will help now with some CBT, we see him again on Saturday.

Got DS to school by 9 today, an improvement on the 10.30 - 11 we have had in last few days. He was stressed and begging not to go but calmer than last few days. I have started a reward for every time he fights through the anxiety to do something and he is responding to the idea that we recognise the effort he is putting in rather than punishing him or getting angry when he is refusing to do something. Trying to stay firm, consistent, positive and finding lots of fun things to do during the evenings to balance up the bad moments of the days! Oldest DS is being lovely, very caring towards his brother and being understanding about the chaos this is sometimes bringing. Oh my goodness these are difficult days though.

ToffeeWhirl Wed 28-Nov-12 10:28:10

That's really brave of your DS to go into school today. It's lovely that you are rewarding him for his efforts, op. And what a caring older brother he has too.

I'm disgusted by your GP's response. I suppose waiting lists vary (ours was three months), but we were given an emergency referral to CAMHS when things escalated with DS1 and seen within a couple of days.

fortyplus's post reminded me that DS1 was given Prozac when his anxiety went out of control, although that was also to alleviate his OCD. I do know of other DC who have taken it and found it very helpful. I held out against medication for a long time, but in the end it seemed cruel not to give DS something that would help his suffering (which it did).

I do understand how exhausting and upsetting this is for you. Look after yourself too.

redandblack Wed 28-Nov-12 10:38:30

The idea of medication seems so scary, I am not against the use at all but just seems such a worry when they are so young and their minds still developing. The private doc we saw said he didn't think it was needed with DS and from our first visit that CBT would be really useful from what we and DS were telling him. Good to know there are different alternatives though if this doesn't work. Took prozac myself after a bout of postnatal depression so know it works...

ToffeeWhirl Wed 28-Nov-12 12:24:25

I know and, to be honest, it still troubles me, but DS can't even go out of the house without it atm. I agree that you should try CBT first, although, if the anxiety is really bad, the two can work together. I'm glad you have a doctor that you like and trust, although I'm still angry on your behalf that you are having to pay.

MistyB Wed 28-Nov-12 12:51:03

I would also recommend trying Bach Flower remedies. You can get fairly easy to read books in Health Food shops or try googling an online recommendation. The best thing would be to find someone who can advise you but it is fairly easy choose remedies yourself. They are recommended for difficult times in life, times of transition etc and work well with children. I've used them with a very anxious 4 year old, child with crippling fear of bugs, myself on numerous occasions and the whole family when we moved house.

redandblack Thu 06-Dec-12 09:40:17

Had a difficult morning with DH, he was very anxious and angry this morning and everything was a battle, from getting changed, having breakfast, getting coat on, getting him to actually get in the car...

I try and keep calm and understanding (which really, really I am, I can see how much he is hurting) but it is so tough and I am finding this so very hard. I lost my patience this morning and yelled at him because he just point blank refused to get in the car and I had three other boys waiting inside wanting to go to school - it was -2 and I was dreading the icy roads...only came out the house when I threatened to get the other boys out and bring them to him so he could explain why we were going to be late. Don't feel good about that but nothing else was going to work...

The doc we have started seeing says I am doing all the right things but it just feels like I am putting him through torture making him go to school when he is feeling so distressed and it breaks my heart each day. He is too young at 11 to have to go through all this and I wish I could take it all for him instead.

Seeing doc again on Saturday, DH like him and is open talking to him about everything so it has been a good start. Counting the days down to the Christmas holidays so we can all have a break from the constant stress - only a couple of weeks but give us a chance to recharge our batteries.

BeginningtoffeealotlikeXmas Thu 06-Dec-12 10:26:46

I'm sorry, red, I remember how hard it was with my son when he was like this about school. It is unbelievably stressful and upsetting for both of you. Don't blame yourself for yelling at him this morning or for making him explain to the other boys why they were going to be late. You were pushed to the limit and it's no bad thing for your son to see how his behaviour affects other people.

We have used the impact of my son's behaviour on others as an incentive to help him overcome his fears sometimes and I don't think that's wrong. He was invited out to a meal in a restaurant with his friends once and panicked at the last minute and wouldn't go. He had made a commitment to meet one of the boys at the station first and we couldn't contact the boy to tell him my son wouldn't come, so we insisted he go for the boy's sake. He did go, had a wonderful time and came home full of pride that he'd done it.

Are you receiving any support from the school now? They should be providing your son with reassurance and praise each time he goes in.

I didn't mention it before, but we eventually took my son out of school because it was too stressful for him. We tried everything first - CBT, medication, etc - but in the end it was so awful for all of us that we deregistered him and I now home educate. I'm not saying this is what you should do (possibly it's not what you would want at all), but it is an option if you feel a period without stress is what you all need.

ISingSoprano Thu 06-Dec-12 10:43:00

My dd was very anxious around the transition to secondary school and she found year 7 very stressful and got anxious about just about everything. I have no real words of wisdom to add, you are obviously doing all you can to help your ds. I just wanted you to know that I too have been there - my dd is now in year 10 and while she still has her moments things are much, much better.

mummytime Thu 06-Dec-12 11:13:53

I've only just seen your thread.
If you DS threatens Suicide of self-harm again, I would just take him to A and E for an assessment (especially if it seems at all serious).

Do you have regular contact with the school? Is your main point of contact the SENCO or the head of year? Do keep updating them on what is going on, it is very easy if you don't contact for a while for them to think things are getting better.

redandblack Thu 06-Dec-12 14:30:13

Thanks for the replies, it's good to hear other experiences and advice smile

School have been good but they seem a bit stumped as what to do for the best, they asked for permission to talk to the doc we are seeing so we can all work together on helping ds. They seem to want to push him a little, not letting him miss some lessons as he was allowed to a few weeks ago - probably for the best but ds is finding it tough going of course. We meet a support teacher every morning instead of ds going to registration and she eases him into school and off to his first lesson. Plenty of good will at the school to help but not sure they know quite how to at the moment.

Home schooling would be a last resort really, I work from home full time so could not pay the bills and be able to teach my son - plus not sure I would do a very good job of it ;)

Sometimes shouting at them, when usually you are able to keep a calm face on things, can be beneficial. It can help them see how it is affecting you and your emotions. A little like a slap around the face for hysterics.
And sometimes it can remind them that you are an actual person and not just their kicking board.

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