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Anyone with a secondary school child suffering from school anxiety?

(28 Posts)
Twoweekcruise Mon 25-Sep-17 09:08:01

Ds started secondary school 3 weeks ago.
He is a naturally anxious child and we have had a few issues over the primary school years but we have overcome them with a little counselling and time etc.
But he is really struggling with the transition to secondary school. We have tears on a daily basis, he hates getting the school bus (found him on the doorstep this morn and had to take him to school and have had a few times when I've had to collect him as he wouldn't get on bus!), he has become very down and over thinks everything.
Dh has been no help, I too have anxiety so feel ds's pain but dh just says he has got to get on with it, end of discussion!
The school head of year has been great and I am going to see her this week to discuss a plan of action but I feel I am the only one going through this at the moment, all of my friends kids are sailing through with no worries.
Please tell me we are not alone as I feel so stressed.

MollyWantsACracker Mon 25-Sep-17 09:15:51

Nope you are most definitely not alone. No advice I'm afraid as we are still struggling 3 years in.
Counselling/talking/supporting every which way for the last few years and I really don't what the answer is.
Watching to see if anyone has advice.... flowers for you and ds and family- it's really difficult

MrsOverTheRoad Mon 25-Sep-17 09:15:54

I had something very similar to what your son's going through. It did pass for there any way you could take him to school yourself?

Is the bus strictly necassary?

Also, have a look at this website

Has he got friends?

Twoweekcruise Mon 25-Sep-17 09:24:14

molly I feel for you, it's so stressful flowers
mrs I'm a SAHM so could take him but he has a lovely bunch of mates and they all get on fine and I worry they will loose their empathy for him eventually.

Twoweekcruise Mon 25-Sep-17 09:24:52

Thanks for the link mrs will take a look.

sparkli Mon 25-Sep-17 10:01:26

I had terrible anxiety when I started secondary school. I'm seeing a psychologist just now for something unrelated, but working through stuff has made me realise how depressed I was. Please take your DS to the GP and get him help now. The school should also be able to offer extra support.

blankface Mon 25-Sep-17 10:49:15

Without him knowing, check his phone and social media, is he being bullied or taunted?
Is something currently happening or has something happened on the bus that's making him afraid to get on?

he has a lovely bunch of mates and they all get on fine things change rapidly at that age, is he becoming the butt of their jokes?

You need to unpick this, is the problem school or is it the bus?

Twoweekcruise Mon 25-Sep-17 11:03:30

sparkli that is my worry, my dsis went through the same thing and only now, at 42 is she getting her life back on track, her school years had a major impact on her life!
blank I regularly check his phone and so far, touch wood, no signs of bullying. But again, this is a worry for me because his mates will only have so much patience with him before it wears thin and they will go on and make other friends.
The bus isn't the only issue, he over catastrophizes everything and worries about the worst case scenarios. ATM it's the bus, but sometimes it'll be PE lessons, a teacher who has said something a bit too harshly, an older kid who has made fun of him etc. The list can be endless. I need to help him break the cycle of this type of thinking. I'm hoping the year head can come up with some strategies as I've tried to get him some counselling but ATM all of the local charities such as Mind are over subscribed and are not taking referrals. Our only option is private counselling, I've contacted a few but at £30-£40 per session, I just can not afford it! Just not sure what to do to help him. We are trying online mindfulness and positive thinking etc but it's hard work as he will not try to see things from a different angle he just goes into a panic and meltdown.

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Mon 25-Sep-17 11:11:33

Both DS1 & 2 have anxiety. DS1 had some counselling with a school mentor but he found it made him anxious having to leave lessons as people asked questions etc and I don't think he really opened up to her.

I have bought them a copy of the Chimp Paradox, which is a really simple breakdown of how anxiety affects us, what it's purpose is and how to preempt and prevent it.

In the wild, for our primitive ancestors, being socially ostracised would result in isolation and possibly death. Being accepted as part of a troup means never saying or doing anything that could result in embarrassment or shame as that would literally be the worst thing that could happen.

Obviously in our world, it's not so serious, but the body is still set up to react to these things as if they were actually catastrophic. Having a bit of understanding about why we get so anxious helps to put it in perspective and the book also offers ways to reprogram our brains to quieten the chimp inside who is screaming "everybody is going to laugh at you!"

It's a great concept (and not new to this book) which is easily relatable to kids.

Yesyesyesyeswhatever Mon 25-Sep-17 11:14:11

My DS is primary age (8), but is exactly like you describe. Very sensitive, anxious, depressed. I worry that he is likely to lose the empathy of his (few) school mates too, as they will see him as a "sissy"/drama queen. Refused to go to school this morning, again. Took him in later when he had stopped freaking out about being "stupid" and being late sad I worry about him. We are trying to get him camhs referral and counselling. I was very similar at his age, too, but kept it all in, as had no friends and was scared to talk to my parents. I see my future self in you. I can't help, but I know how you feel. It's profoundly anxiety inducing and taps into your guilt too. Hope you and your son can get help soon. Have you asked if the school offer counselling/therapy or groups? I know around here they do.

Woolycardi Mon 25-Sep-17 12:27:33

I just wanted to add another voice to say you are not alone. My ds is like this also, but he is only 9. He gets very worried about everything, and I have found that trying to keep our life at home as routine and stress free as possible does help him, even though I am not naturally geared towards routine and order myself! I often wonder what secondary school will be like for him, I am never entirely sure if/how he fits in at school, I have had other parents comment on how easily upset he is. I also found school really difficult, virtually impossible, truth be told. I have anxiety and depression now, and it has got so much worse this year and I really wish I could help my son so it doesn't govern his life in the same way. I agree that it taps into a deep sense of guilt and both myself and my husband have talked more about our own lives at school so much more recently as it has all been raked up. I don't know what the answer is. It's so hard, but you really are not alone.

Titsywoo Mon 25-Sep-17 12:33:12

Any SEN? Just asking because I've known many kids with undiagosed ASD who fell apart with anxiety when they started secondary. My DS is autistic and starts next year so I'm pretty worried about it.

Twoweekcruise Mon 25-Sep-17 14:46:26

Thank you all so much it means lots to know we are not alone as it really feels like it in RL ATM.
feed me The Chimp Paradox is sitting in my wish list on Amazon, I must purchase it.
yesyesyes I feel for you, ds has always been a sensitive/anxious child but we have had problems with him from about 7 years old. Being anxious myself I really feel his anguish and hated school due to my own sensitivity. When you have that type of personality secondary school is beyond overwhelming. We had a meeting with cahms last year but was told unless he was suicidal they couldn't help as they were overwhelmed with referrals!
wooly I too try to keep as calm a life as possible for him. I have tried to encourage clubs and after school activities in the hope it'll help and he has become better over the last few years but will always be that extra bit sensitive.
titsywoo I have wondered for some time if ds is on the spectrum, I have mentioned it to family, friends and gp but they all dismiss me. I think they think ds is just too sensitive for his own good and just needs to 'man up'!
I'm just not sure where to go for help, I worry that his anxiety and sensitive nature will hold him back in life, like me.
Just clinging into the hope that the year head can advise us.

gandalf456 Mon 25-Sep-17 14:51:10

My DD was like this. She is in year 9 now. She did improve in year 8 but ended up with a CAMHS referral. There was a hereditary mental health issue underlying, which obviously didn't help with the transition. She struggles academically, too, which is another thing. She had had good, solid friends at junior school but had become separated from them or, where not the case, they had grown apart. She is finding her niche now and learning to accept herself as she is - a bit quirkyl

Shannaratiger Mon 25-Sep-17 14:56:24

My ds is the same, he's currently in yr6. I suffer with stress and anxiety as well, just deciding what school to choose is giving me sleepless nights! Am really going to try and find solutions well before september. Will try and download that book onto my new Kindle.

Titsywoo Mon 25-Sep-17 15:00:22

I would say get a referral to camhs about the mental health issues and mention asd to them. To be honest though they would probably pick up on it. If you can afford it you can get an asd assessment privately. We did for ds. He doesn't need to know what it is for. Ds had no idea as I just said it was a check up.

Twoweekcruise Mon 25-Sep-17 17:03:49

Where would I go to get an asd assessment privately?

Titsywoo Mon 25-Sep-17 23:12:17

Whereabouts are you?

Yesyesyesyeswhatever Tue 26-Sep-17 10:54:09

I'm thinking about private assessment too. ASD has sort been on the table a long time, school got in educational psychologist who observed, but couldn't tell. It might be too mild to diagnose now. Maybe later. In any case, I'd like to know if it's manual health and/or ASD so I can think more clearly. Now just caught up in a cycle of trying things and guilt. You always wonder whether you've caused them to be like that. Likely to be genetic tendencies in any case, as ASD and mental health problems both present in extended families.

Yesyesyesyeswhatever Tue 26-Sep-17 10:57:24

Most painful comments involve "setting boundaries" "making him man up". Awful. As if we just let him do whatever he wants. It's a near daily struggle with anything new. And school.

You can Google private psychologists and psychiatrists in your area. Some at least will offer assessments.

Twoweekcruise Tue 26-Sep-17 14:59:06

I'm in constant guilt that ds is the way he is due to learnt behaviour, I'm very sensitive and anxious, so too are most of my mum's side of the family. But then again I have brought both my dc up the same and dd is completely different, relaxed and easy going (thank God!!) I think that you are born with your personality.
Btw titsywoo I'm in Essex.

Twoweekcruise Tue 26-Sep-17 15:00:48

Dh wants ds to 'man up', he just doesn't understand that ds can't simply 'pull himself together and man up' hmm

Yesyesyesyeswhatever Tue 26-Sep-17 16:07:48

Yes. Yelling at DS and forcing to do things by intimidating him doesn't work. He just gets hysterical and even more anxious/sad. He needs to feel like at least his parents understand him. sad

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Wed 27-Sep-17 12:05:05

Also may be worth adding Robert Webb's book How Not To Be a Boy to your wishlist Twoweek. It's a little rude for your DS to read (he has dropped the C bomb once so far, I'm about 1/4 of the way through!) but very funny - it chronicles his childhood growing up with an abusive dad under the pressure of toxic masculinity. Not saying your H is abusive, but that expectation that showing anxiety and emotion is not manly can be quite damaging to young men.

Chaotica Wed 27-Sep-17 12:21:10

I'm in a similar but different position to people on this thread. DD is Y7 with severe anxiety, but because she was diagnosed with ASD she was given loads of help with transition from primary. (FWIW for the people with Y6 DCs, I don't think you needed a diagnosis with this school to get the help.) So things are bad, but not nearly as bad as they could be.

xDP used to be mean to DD too when she couldn't cope.

I'd recommend seeing the SENCO to see if they can help (schools aren't all as good as DD's seems to be at dealing with it) and go to the GP. CAMHS have been working with DD on coping strategies and some of it helps.

How long is the school bus journey? Could he avoid it? School buses are horrible sometimes. (I went on mine once per school, then never again. I walked miles instead.)

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