How can I help my DD13 build her confidence and feel less anxious?

(26 Posts)
TwentyOneGuns Wed 06-Jan-16 22:01:39

She's always been shy although much better in recent years but she admitted tonight that she gets really anxious at school, is scared to put her hand up, feels like everyone is looking at her and hates walking around by herself. She also mentioned panic attacks.

I guess its inevitable that she'll feel like this at times but I was sad to hear her say it and am worried it could get more serious - it's already stopping her doing things I know she'd enjoy eg after school classes.

I said everything I could think of to try and reassure her but I'm sure there must be more I could do to help build her confidence and stop this affecting her life any further. Should I be taking it more seriously or is just being there for her enough?

ImperialBlether Wed 06-Jan-16 22:08:43

My daughter's in her 20s and does yoga several times a week. She reckons it's fantastic for that sort of thing - it makes you physically fitter and more confident there but you also empty your mind of your worries.

Could you and she go along to classes?

TwentyOneGuns Thu 07-Jan-16 19:26:23

I don't know what she'd think of yoga but I'd love to do something like that with her. I used to do Pilates which is good for clearing your mind, guess yoga is pretty similar.

ImperialBlether Thu 07-Jan-16 20:34:57

Why don't you see what she thinks? If she resists anything like that then I think I'd ask for a GP appointment, even if you go on your own. The poor girl clearly needs some help.

Wolfiefan Thu 07-Jan-16 20:37:52

Does she do any activities out of school? Scouts and a martial arts have helped here. Dance class or musical instrument? Anything where they can achieve success helps.

TwentyOneGuns Thu 07-Jan-16 20:57:41

She goes to the local youth club and does cookery after school but both are with people she's known for ages. I've been encouraging her to try some of the other things on offer at school (or a different activity if she'd prefer it) but she's so self conscious about meeting new people and standing out, she doesn't want to move out of her comfort zone even though she likes the idea of the activities.

TwentyOneGuns Thu 07-Jan-16 21:07:31

Imperial do you really think it's a GP thing? I though this was common for many teens.

Also, I hate to say it but I think having 'issues' is a bit of a thing with some of the kids she knows. They talk about anxiety, panic attacks and so on in a way we never would have at their age, I wouldn't have known what the terms meant. I know people like Zoella have suffered with anxiety and it's great that she's made it more 'acceptable' but I wonder whether it sometimes encourages kids to label what are actually perfectly normal feelings when you're growing up.

I'm not saying they don't feel bad - DD clearly does and I expect some of her friends too - but how do you know where the line is between how everyone feels at times and something more serious?

Kat22 Mon 11-Jan-16 14:55:59

I'm not sure of the answer, but I totally agree with you about the fact that having 'issues' is a bit of a thing. I've noticed this, some teens seem keen to label themselves and advertise that they have panic attacks etc, and then for others I think the fact that these labels exist makes them focus in on themselves too much and worry too much.

I have a similar situation at times, though it's always changing. I'm not sure what to think but I think on balance it's fairly normal to feel anxious and insecure at this age. They are changing all the time and it doesn't mean they will always feel this way. School can be hard, with people making personal, rude comments in a way they don't usually once you're an adult.

I'm not sure whether I'm doing the right thing but I am trying to find a balance between being encouraging and not getting too involved. I try to ensure she's not spending too much time in her room brooding and drag her out and do stuff with her. I'm also trying to be as helpful as I can with her social life, giving lifts to friends etc.

My daughter wouldn't do anything her friends weren't doing by the way (and neither will my son) - I would think this is pretty average and certainly at this age.

Another thing I do is remind my daughter that school is not forever and that as school goes on she gets to pick her options and do more things that she feels comfortable with.

Hope this helps. I wish I had better solutions! It is hard to know 'where the line is ' as you say.

PingPongBat Mon 11-Jan-16 16:33:02

TwentyOne your DD sounds just like mine, & I have the same dilemma about whether this is 'normal' for a teen, or indicative of something more serious.

My DD (14) talks about anxiety, feeling tired, feeling panicky, she spends a lot of time in her room... but also eats well, is happy around the house, giggles with her friends a lot, doesn't fall out with them as much as she used to about a year ago, wants to join the army cadets, does very well at school (although she doesn't enjoy it as much as she used to). She got very interested in mental health issues a couple of years ago & raised money for a young mental health charity, & she also watches Zoella & Sprinkle of Glitter. She googles everything about anxiety & depression & I think Kat22 has a good point about focussing too much on themselves, she has spent a lot of time researching what might be wrong with her. At one point she told me "I want someone to tell me what I've got and how to cure it". Her brother's girlfriend (she's 16) who she gets on with very well has had counselling for anxiety & lots of issues. My mum & FIL died last year so lots of sadness in the family generally over the last 12 months.

I try to support her, listen when she wants to talk, comfort her and offer advice if she wants it. We went to our GP a year ago & they referred her not for counselling, but to a local youth centre which she flatly refused to go to.

I remember feeling anxious, panicky, sad etc at her age, but how on earth do you know if it's going to turn into something more serious?

TwentyOneGuns Mon 11-Jan-16 19:51:59

It's reassuring to know DD's not the only one but sorry to hear your teens are feeling a similar way. I really don't want to belittle how she feels but I'm not convinced it's anything other than how we all feel at times, even as adults - I still get shaky and panicked if I have to stand up and do a presentation and worrying about what other people think of you never seems to go away unfortunately.

I agree about them looking things up online and self-diagnosing, think it's the modern equivalent of finding your symptoms in the family medical dictionary and being convinced you're going to die - which is why my Mum told me never to do that!

I think the idea of finding a balance between being supportive and not getting too involved makes a lot of sense so I think this is going to be my plan - we'll see how well that goes!

On a more positive note, a colleague told DH about some local volunteering opportunities and he mentioned this to DD as she had expressed an interest in doing something like that. She's applied and had a nice response back, think she may need to be 14 to take it any further but I was so please to see her showing enthusiasm for something outside of her comfort zone.

stablemabel Tue 12-Jan-16 17:11:45

agree with you about the fact that having 'issues' is a bit of a thing. I've noticed this, some teens seem keen to label themselves.

Yes Yes to this one, hi Twenty, I'm another one with a DD in this camp, very similar issues by the sound of it. This past year she has been into Youtubers Dan and Phil and gone on and on about existentialist crisises (WTF?) and that she is 'weird'. Any efforts on my part to say she isn't have been met with indignation, she is proud to be weird.

On a separate post recently someone gave me the advice to acknowledge their feelings which sounds a good idea. You might not agree with everything but if I think at least you say you know where they are coming from it helps them.

So let's acknowledge how our DD's feel, I think it would help to tell them they are not alone and so what they are feeling is quite normal. I think the measure of whether to take it more seriously is to decide how much it is impinging on their lives, is it stopping them going out, to school (my DD won't put her hand up either even if she is sure of the answer but at least she is in the class and learning!), to the local shop etc? If they can't seem to function normally then maybe I would ask for prof help.

My DD does a sports class twice a week which I think helps a lot and I think anything like this or the voluntary work you mentioned is all to the good. It gets them focusing on something other than themselves and builds their confidence. I am hoping my DD will do some volunteering somewhere in the summer so I'd be grateful if you could keep us posted on anything helpful you come across.

Meanwhile, hugs and flowers you are not alone in this.

PingPongBat Tue 12-Jan-16 17:30:39

Great post stablemabel smile Don't you just love YouTubers and all their wisdom hmm

I agree wholeheartedly about acknowledging their feelings. I've been doing a lot of this with DD recently & I really think it helps (as does wine for me) Just letting DD talk about all those confused inner thoughts helps her to work them out. We're in a good place today as she's just come home with fab school report, so am super-proud and will make sure we celebrate her efforts.

How's your DD doing today, TwentyOne ?

stablemabel Tue 12-Jan-16 18:45:49

thanks Ping I'm always glad to feel I can maybe help on here even if I can't help myself at times!!!!

Ha ha to the wine comment, add to that vodka, gin etc etc for me...

Great news about the school report,( there's some light at the end of the tunnel) have a good evening.

TwentyOneGuns Tue 12-Jan-16 19:46:59

That's an excellent post stablemabel, you make a lot of sense. I'm glad to know other people feel the same about kids labelling themselves (I see it as trying to fit in by not fitting in if that makes sense) and the influence of the YouTubers. I think that you're absolutely right to say we should acknowledge their feelings regardless of what we think and that the time to take it more seriously is when it has a noticeable impact on their life.

I will definitely keep you posted about the volunteering, it has popped up at just the right time and I really hope something comes of it. It was just a coincidence that DH's colleague mentioned it as we'd Googled before and not found anything suitable - the places she'd approached previously were lovely but said she needed to be at least 16.

PingPong she's fine and cheery today, long may it last grin. Well done to your DD for her report, I do feel sorry for them at times having to knuckle down at school with all the other stuff going on in their heads - I know we did it but life seems a lot more complicated for teens today! (And parents, thank God for wine!) We've got our first GCSE options meeting next week, God knows how that's going to go!

Thanks ladies, it's so reassuring to know there are other people in the same boat flowers.

stablemabel Wed 13-Jan-16 16:19:39

Absolutely glad to help Twenty, having done (and still doing) years of worrying about one thing or another with my 2 DC's I know how horrible it is. Wise MNetters have been a lifeline for me at times and you speak a lot of sense too.

I do hope the volunteering comes off. I was looking into it a year or two back (DD has no friends at home sad and I was desperate for her to have something to do in the hols) but it seemed to be saying 16yrs. However, never giving up I'm going to look again for this summer!

Thanks for the flowers, I've def needed those this week with my two, along with a wine on tap and the keys to Willy Wonka's place....

Talulaley Thu 14-Jan-16 09:59:54

I'm another one with similar issues. Dd is 14 and obsessed with Dan and Phil. She also talks a lot about anxiety, depression, panic attacks. I agree that they all seem to have the same problems. I'm not sure if they're trying to fit in, or if there's too much information out there .. Or they're mimicking YouTubers ..

She's not really interested in schoolwork and homework at all and although she's bright she still needs to work hard to get good grades.

She won't join any after school clubs and isn't interested in sport. All she wants to do is spends all her time on her laptop or phone. I'm trying to turn things around before it's too late, but we're falling out over it.

stablemabel Thu 14-Jan-16 16:23:35

Feel your pain Talulaley, DD 13 used to spend most of her time reading, now it's the bloomin' laptop, and whilst I'm sure it has it's good points there's also the not so good ones...

As for Dan and Phil....and I'm not sure if they're trying to fit in, or if there's too much information out there .. Or they're mimicking YouTubers perhaps all of these apply.

I just try to be as strict as I can without seeming too overpowering (trying to play it clever) with the phone and the laptop and try and have a cut off point in the evening, or whatever time she has been on them long enough.
Mine insists that all homework research has to be googled AND pictures printed off. When I ask her to look things up in books shock and draw rather than printing..well...I'll let you imagine the scene....

hangingoutattheendofmywick Thu 14-Jan-16 16:44:54

Physical exercise hobby. She could join a park run (free) every Saturday. Also highly recommend the Miranda autobiography as its all about being comfortable with who you are.

gleegeek Thu 14-Jan-16 17:23:37

I've got a similar dd(12). I blame Instagram and social media as well! The things they write - a lot of it written by apparently successful/happy/popular kids seems attention seeking - but the more sensitive ones do seem angst riddensad I think life at school is stressful and scary. Dd is actually scared of a couple of her teachers and will not ask/answer questions in class. She came home very upset tonight as some yr 7 boys had caused her to fall off her bike and she was mortified because people had seen it... it's very tough to know how to help but lots of cuddles and chocolate seemed to help...
I agree clubs do help but Dd won't go to anything without a friend there - apparently if you are ever alone you'll be called a loner shock
OP - your Dd sounds like Dd and her friends tbh, I recognise lots of what you've written. We're not thinking Dr yet....

TwentyOneGuns Thu 14-Jan-16 20:59:05

I honestly didn't realise how many other kids felt the same as DD - I'm not sure if they're trying to fit in, or if there's too much information out there... Or they're mimicking YouTubers. Perhaps all of these apply. I definitely think it's a mixture of all three.

As for the obsession with phone/tablet/computer, it drives me up the wall! Totally agree that nothing can be done using a book or pen and paper, always has to be bloody technology! I am really glad that DD has got a nice crowd of friends but I wish she didn't have to be in touch with them from the minute she walks in the door until I make her switch off - if they're not texting they're FaceTiming or IG messaging or on FB. I find it very intrusive and if a teen is having problems it just adds to the pressure - there's no escape even at home. I think technology is great in its place (where would I be without MN?!) but as with everything in a teenage world it seems it has to be taken to an extreme confused.

Topseyt Thu 14-Jan-16 21:28:28

I can relate to all of this because my DD3 is the same. She has anxiety and low self esteem although she is academically very bright. She has had all of the issues already mentioned.

She too has had a long term and ongoing fixation with bloody Dan & Phil. They do seem to fascinate teenagers in a way that this old gimmer (me), just doesn't get at all. Really, she used to talk as though she actually knew them personally, although she has calmed down a little with that bit, at least when I am around.

Counselling via CAMHS did not help and she so dreaded the sessions that we had to stop going.

She does love sports though, and is a good and enthusiastic hockey player. Giving up CAMHS gave her time to go to school hockey club and also to a local ladies club. It has really helped, although in other areas she can still be fragile mentally.

I think all we can do is be there and supportive. It may really help if your DD can find some sort of a hobby or outside interest, as I have found it really helps them forget themselves and build confidence.

That said, I must have been lucky. DD3 sure doesn't get her sporting prowess from me. DH is more sporty, so perhaps from him. grin

Good luck. I really do know how worrying it is and how powerless it can leave you feeling.

TwentyOneGuns Thu 14-Jan-16 22:18:08

I think helping them forget themselves a bit is key actually, teens seem to live in a very self obsessed world!

PingPongBat Thu 14-Jan-16 23:01:11

Absolutely Twenty - all that looking inwards and worrying about whether they are doing /saying /feeling /wearing the right thing, then looking at YouTube to find the answers

I need to get my DD back into books, to escape snapchat/Instagram. She reads in fits and starts, more recently it's been Zoella's efforts hmm but I'm also reading a Louis Sachar with her at bed time. (Yes, we still do bedtime reading, she says it helps her to relax smile but I think she also just likes some company just before trying to get off to sleep). She charged her kindle the other day, hopefully there's something on there she will dip into again.

NeuNewNouveau Thu 14-Jan-16 23:12:42

About to run out of battery so just a quick message to get on the thread as DS15 is exactly as you describe in your OP.
Anxious and lacking in self confidence, scared to put hand up, clever (top set in everything but at the bottom of that set) but not at all interested in school or anything much.

Will be reading property when recharged.

Bathsheba3 Fri 15-Jan-16 22:48:49

My DD12 sounds just the same Twenty. Top sets but shy, anxiety, panic attacks, and great social anxiety. Too late tired for a proper post, but have read with interest, and can relate to everything written above. Things with my DD got bad last year - had to seek out private psychotherapy as totally dismissed by GP. Interestingly I am beginning to realise that she is very reactive to my moods / mental health. Rather worringly so. hmm

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