Dealing with DD's fear of flying fairly

(33 Posts)
Pteromerhanophobia Fri 11-Jul-14 15:49:48

DD (17) has always been a nervous flyer but 2 years ago she had a panic attack while we were waiting to board. We haven't gone abroad since.

Last week she announced that she wanted to go away with her friends next summer. DH said that she had to go away with us first to prove that she was capable of flying, firstly because it isn't fair for her friends to have to deal with her fear and secondly to reassure us that she could do it.

He suggested that he took her over to Paris and I could wait behind with DD (15). I think he is BU because DD2 and I would quite like to go to Paris, but as he pointed out, we can't book for 4 in case DD1 can't go.

His second suggestion is that she goes to the doctor and gets prescribed something. I am really against this because I don't think it addresses the fear and the idea of her going away with her friends and using diazepam/ valium is a bad idea (especially on the return flight). I also think it puts an unfair burden on 3 other 18 year olds.

WWYD?

Leeds2 Fri 11-Jul-14 15:58:04

I think OH's idea is a good one (trip to Paris) and it may be that the desire to go abroad with her friends will help her overcome her fear.

I would then go to Paris with DD2 the following weekend.

vulgarwretch Fri 11-Jul-14 16:02:57

Isn't she old enough that if she couldn't go to Paris with the four of you she could stay at home alone for the weekend? Or would that be mean?

Pteromerhanophobia Fri 11-Jul-14 16:08:10

Mean! I couldn't leave her at the airport in the middle of a panic attack.

It does look like separate trips are the way forward. Just a pity, I would love for us all to go together.

rootypig Fri 11-Jul-14 16:09:33

I'm not sure why you can't book for 4. If she can't go, she can't go, so:

scenario 1: DH and DD1 are booked for Paris, DD can't fly. DD and DH don't go.
scenario 2: all four are booked for Paris. DD can't fly. DD and DH don't go.

Though more broadly, I don't know if I agree that her handling a flight with you means she'll be fine with pals - unless she genuinely has let go of the anxiety.

If she hasn't (and you don't say what she says now - whether she still feels very nervous but wants to try, or feels that she is actually ok), then I would have thought some techniques for managing her anxiety and getting through a panic attack would be more use.

Re 18 year old girls - when I had some serious anxiety attacks, my young peers were much more helpful and naturally understanding than many adults in my life, who while well meaning, didn't get it at all.

rootypig Fri 11-Jul-14 16:10:47

^^ to add to the scenario thing above, if you book for four and she's fine, you get to go away together! brilliant. If you book for two twos, you lose that possibility. If you book for four and she can't go, you end up with two separate trips as the worst case scenario. Each scenario risks losing the money of DD and one parent's flight.

ajandjjmum Fri 11-Jul-14 16:12:16

Would it be worth her going on one of these courses that some of the airlines run, to try and overcome the fear?

SantanaLopez Fri 11-Jul-14 16:14:33

I think you and DD2 should go away first, and then you don't have to feel guilty about leaving DD1 behind if she couldn't make it.

I agree that medication isn't the way forward (especially if they are planning to go to Malia or Ibiza or one of those places) and I also agree that asking her friends to know what to do if she has a panic attack again is too much.

Hypnotherapy?

Pteromerhanophobia Fri 11-Jul-14 16:19:56

The British Airways children's course only runs in London, which is a pity because I've heard great things about it.

I will look more into hypnotherapy and breathing exercises, I really don't like the idea of medication.

Though more broadly, I don't know if I agree that her handling a flight with you means she'll be fine with pals - unless she genuinely has let go of the anxiety.

How else do you think we could 'judge' her being able to go? I don't want her to book and get to the airport with her friends and then collapse- it's not fair on the other girls. I'm also worried that she could psych herself up for the flight out and then panic coming back, with nothing to look forward too.

rootypig Fri 11-Jul-14 16:25:23

It's a way of judging it, yep. I'm just not sure it's a rock solid basis on which to base her going. I've suffered anxiety, it's unpredictable. I would try to give her tools to manage it. CBT, breathing techniques, that sort of thing.

ajandjjmum Fri 11-Jul-14 16:35:35

Worth travelling to London for it I'd say OP - a fear of flying could limit her hugely over the years. If you can nip it in the bud, it would make sense.

Pteromerhanophobia Fri 11-Jul-14 21:39:39

I don't think there is a way to definitely state her anxiety has lessened completely, though.

I'm not sure about going to London. I don't want to be penny-pinching but the course alone is nearly £500 (it's also sold out until September, so no good for us). They do adult courses at our nearest airport, which would still be expensive but at least there would be no travelling costs.

Bump?

adeucalione Sat 12-Jul-14 08:03:34

If she's asking to go away with her friends then surely she's thought through her anxieties and decided that she can handle it.

I say let her book her holiday and talk through what will happen if she can't get on the plane, with her and her friends.

Maybe you could accompany them to the airport, go and grab a coffee somewhere until you know she's in the air but be on hand to shoulder the burden and take her home if she can't do it.

That way you are only losing the cost of one flight if she can't go, only one person is being disappointed if she can't go, and her friends know that they can call you and head off guilt-free if it comes to that.

A holiday with friends is quite an incentive and by taking her on a practice holiday you are showing that you doubt her resolve.

Regarding the return journey - if she can get there, she can get home. Again, discuss a contingency plan.

holidaysarenice Sat 12-Jul-14 08:20:06

I would go with dd2 on the Friday and ur she and dd1 to follow on the sat. It means ur dd doesn't lose out and dd1 has an extra incentive to get on the plane and a reduced feeling of anxiety hat if she can't spit her sister will lose out too.

Roussette Sat 12-Jul-14 08:29:35

Agree with this... If she's asking to go away with her friends then surely she's thought through her anxieties and decided that she can handle it. from Adeucalione.

My DD went through a bit of this mildly. You say your DD had a panic attack at the airport 2 years ago? Did she actually board the plane then? If so, why stop going abroad? Wouldn't that send the message that yes it is scary and dangerous, let's just not fly.

With my DD, she always managed to get on the plane but takeoff and landing was difficult for her and it's a wonder I don't have broken bones in my hand with how hard she gripped it... full blown panic attack but she managed because she knew it was something she would have to ride through, or her life would be limited. She was about 14 at the time and it lasted a couple of years. I was very matter of fact about it and we just carried on flying every year and she came through it and now flies without us more than once a year.

Personally I would trust her to know her own limitations and if she wants to go abroad with friends, encourage her to do so and don't focus on the air travel. I wouldn't even mention it, let her drive this trip forward, surely she'll be 18 by then, an adult? 2 years is a long time in the life of a teen, this trip might well be fine and she might be through it. You need to trust her to find her own way with this, I certainly wouldn't be pratting around with trips to Paris that might or might not happen.

BeeBawBabbity Sat 12-Jul-14 08:37:44

I agree that you should let her go. She's decided that she can cope, and that the anxiety is worth the trip with friends, which must mean a lot to her. Be careful that by being too cautionary you are giving her the message that it is dangerous and she can't cope. She needs to see you having confidence in her ability to manage her anxiety.

LongTimeLurking Sat 12-Jul-14 10:53:54

17 is old enough to think through the issues and come to her own decision isn't it? Also her friends are 18 not 12, I'm sure they will cope if she has a bit of a panic attack, but maybe she should warn them first just in case?

Also, what is wrong with getting something short acting from the doctor to help ? It would be a safety net only to be taken if needed.

I have to say it sounds like you are treating her like a small child when she is nearly a fully grown woman. I don't see what right to have to say no at all really. (unless you are expected to pay for it).

Pteromerhanophobia Sat 12-Jul-14 13:45:05

Maybe you could accompany them to the airport, go and grab a coffee somewhere until you know she's in the air but be on hand to shoulder the burden and take her home if she can't do it.

I never think of the easiest solution! Thanks.

If she's asking to go away with her friends then surely she's thought through her anxieties and decided that she can handle it.

Then we should all be able to go as a family, this year, is my automatic response to that. I really don't want to undermine her, but I know my DD- next year is still comfortably far away enough that she doesn't need to worry about it.

You say your DD had a panic attack at the airport 2 years ago? Did she actually board the plane then?

No. We got to the gate and checked our passes and she started shaking. I tried to calm her down and get her to a seat (breathing etc) but when she saw the plane she really couldn't go any further. It was draining for us all so we just stayed in the UK last summer.

I am anti-medication because they want to go to Ibiza or one of the party holidays and I'm worried about relying on medication when they will probably have been drinking quite a bit. It is more than likely we will pay for the holiday too, if she manages to get a job it will go towards uni costs.

LastingLight Sat 12-Jul-14 17:12:22

I agree with the poster who suggested Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). She needs to be taught skills to handle the problem when it arises.

starsandunicorns Sat 12-Jul-14 17:19:38

How about inland trips if your in north go south so when they arrive they get train back eg Edinburgh to Birmingham

doziedoozie Sat 12-Jul-14 17:21:02

Has someone suggested a good friend/ auntie to accompany you to airport and then take DD to friend's home if panic attack happens.

I think if panicking means she will never do the 'working abroad' thing or even the boozy trip to the Costa with her mates then that is encouragement enough to get on a plane. Also the shame of having some of them cancel her DFs hols, doesn't bear thinking about for a 17 yr old I would think.

runningonwillpower Sat 12-Jul-14 17:32:10

We have to be careful about the messages we give our children, no matter how good our intentions. Obviously we want to support and help our children but sometimes, just sometimes, that support gets in the way of their independence and need to figure it out for themselves.

All this talk about practice runs might just give her the message that this is something she can't do instead of something she can do.

She will be 18. She's planning this with friends in the full knowledge of past anxieties. I'd let her get on with it.

Mrsjayy Sat 12-Jul-14 17:52:59

I think a short trip is a good idea but I also give dd travel sickness pills and squirt y rescue remedy to take before flying last time I got her the chewing gum so the travel sickness pills stop her feeling queasy the rr helps her focus her fear iyswim if im honest I think the rr is meh but if it stops dd having a panic attack then it works placebo effect and al that

Roussette Sat 12-Jul-14 17:56:50

runningwillpower talks a lot of sense.

specialsubject Sat 12-Jul-14 18:00:00

the pissup holiday in Ibiza will be quite an incentive. How about she funds her own fear of flying course if she feels she needs it?

I agree that valium on top of the amount of booze they are likely to consume is a bad idea.

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