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Anxiety - 10 yo DS(4 Posts)
NC for this.
DS is 10 and over the last few months is getting increasingly anxious about his health. He has had the mortality realisation, where he seems to now understand about death, and that we won't all be around forever. Nothing in particular has triggered the death realisation.
He has been under some stress recently with sport, and with school and looming exams. We have done and said what we can to try to minimise his concerns about both of these things. In the past week, things have come to a head and this week I had to bring him home from school as he was having a panic attack. He described being aware of his own heartbeat, palpitations, shaking, tight throat. He has totally cut out sugar as one attack was preceded by him eating sweets. He has had 3 or 4 instances like this in the last few months.
I have talked to him calmly about the flight fight response and how he is not ill as such, but stressed and that it is a vicious circle. We've discussed being calm, breathing deeply, and how he is in control of it, not it him. And that if he thinks about his heartbeat he will get paranoid and that it's better to let his body get on with its stuff whilst he focuses on something else.
I suppose I am looking for a few things by posting this. Has anyone else had a similar experience with a child of his age? And what suggestions would you have for what we can do to support him through this anxiety?
Some anxiety is normal at any age when talking about death and compromising illnesses. Most of it (as with any other topic) may come from lack of information.
If your family has a faith that covers/explains one's existence and hope after one dies, it might be a good idea to go into detail with him regarding that faith. But this would only be an option if you do have a faith to share with him, for him to rely on. Something you personally believe in.
Otherwise, you can (either alone or with a therapists guidance) go into different scenarios (example a story about someone losing a family member or someone's illness etc) for him to talk about and identify what is it that makes him anxious.
Is it thinking he will be alone should any family member die?, Is it thinking he would not want to be able to endure the pain of losing someone?, etc.
You can present him with real stories in which people have been able to overcome losses, illnesses and circumstances... because although humans look pretty fragile, we are really pretty strong and able to help one another.
I experienced panic attacks three times as an adult. It helped when I was able to overcome my emotions understanding things for what they really are... also praying. God delivered me from this.
Tell him, our mind is powerful, but his mind is his' and nobody else's. He CAN control it. Teach him he can stop bad ideas from bothering him and practice at home. Guide him on how to stop those with specific steps.
The only place where he is the only one totally in charge is up there.
Some empowering really helps.
My 11 yr old had some of these concerns but with illnesses. One day after a long talk trying to figure out what was really bothering him (he's a very sensitive person), he started sobbing and said: I am not afraid of dying, I just fear I will not have enough time to love.
Sometimes life becomes burdensome with plans, expectations and future stuff. With him it helped talking about the now. I try helping him focus on the now and not too worry too much for tomorrow. You can also share with him Matthew 6:25-34.
You will be in my prayers.
One strategy for deep breathing is smell the rose, blow out the candle. It's an easy way to remember to inhale deeply through your nose and then purse your lips and blow quite strongly. You can substitute "rose" for something he likes the smell of. This can then be your code, if he's feeling anxious and you can see it starting, tell him "rose" and model the breathing with him.
What to do when you worry too much is an excellent book with practical, age-appropriate advice.
Other things that can help are mindfulness techniques. Focus on your teeth and feel them with your tongue.
Meditation for boys is a good album on itunes. Very calming and soothing without being babyish or patronising. This website may help.
This cd also looks good, I've ordered it for my son.
This is really common at this age and can last a couple of years. It's exactly as you said the maturing and realisation of mortality and that parents aren't superheroes that can solve everything.
You sound like your lovely with him. My son had it quite badly for several years and then one day stopped - sleep issues went, panic attacks disappeared and stress also went. He's still a bit of a hypercondriact but that's men for you. He even looks back and says it was his hormones.
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