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Support thread for parents of anxious children

(178 Posts)
eggsfloursugarbutter Fri 07-Dec-12 12:01:22

I thought I'd start this as I have a very anxious DS and I feel that I am the only one in RL. I figured that there must be lots of us out there and it always helps to feel like you are not alone.

My DS is 4.4 and started school in September. He has not found it easy since the beginning, but since returning after being off sick last week, he has been so anxious that he has vomited every morning in the classroom sad. His crying is what I would call "hysterical".

Trying to get out the door in the morning is a battle, with him running back up the stairs, clinging onto the door frame and refusing to put his shoes and coat on.

He has been quite a clingy/anxious child since he was a baby, so it is not just exclusive to school. He is terrified of going to the dentist, Father Christmas, dressed up characters, parties, trying new things, the list goes on. At this stage, I don't know if there is an underlying reason for it, or whether it is solely anxiety, but I am working closely with the school and GP to monitor it.

I am also 6 months pregnant, with not a lot of support around me and finding it quite difficult and stressful. So if you are going through something similar or have done in the past, then please post it here and perhaps we can all help each other smile.

thekitchenfairy Thu 03-Jan-13 11:38:23

Thank you patience he has had a lot to cope with, from the moment he came into the world and after a stay in SCBU his first few years were tricky health wise.

He is quite self contained, up til v recently not at all cuddly... He can't bear to be hot and the latest steroids he had just seemed to bring out a flood of tears. Literally he did not stop crying for five days :-(

He is yr 5 now, we live in the SW where employment is limited, all the friends left v suddenly during school summer hols over the last 2 yrs, two without even a goodbye, all due to work, he is also in a mixed year group so every year the class structure changes. He misses them terribly, they were all quite bright and a bit geeky, but loved sport too. TBH I've gotta pretty relaxed stance in school learning wise, the other parents didn't think they were being stretched enough so were happy to move on but I love the school and not keen to change as I think he would have the same difficulties elsewhere.

He's got a few friends but is just outside of every little group that huddles for sleepovers etc. he has good chums on his footie team and where we live, so it's not all bad but he's almost too keen iyswim and because the steroids make him moody he's a tendency to be a grumpy/intense playmate I think!

We have just been given aveeno for his face, it it working but really stings so he's not keen.

Trying to reassure and cuddle, and trying not to constantly snap as he chews his clothes... Constantly! he is really enjoying the break from school tho he has a v loud objectionable younger brother to wind him up... Tis always a challenge having both at home!

Thank you. Don't feel quite so alone with this now smile

Ineedmorepatience Thu 03-Jan-13 12:02:04

I know what you mean about the steroids Dd1 had them for asthma, sometimes they made her hyper and other times the made her almost depressed. Nasty things.

I am glad he has some friends, Dd2 has a few friends but we spend too much time alone together in the hols.

I didnt realise aveeno was stingy!

Thats a real shame as it seems really good.

I have to go out now but will pop back on here later if you are around to chat, Dd3 is also yr 5 and has aspergers/ASD

tiger66 Thu 03-Jan-13 20:58:51

Hotheadpaisin - thank you so much for the recommendation of the heubner books. Started the worry too much one tonight and not only did I learn loads about what is going through my little boys head but also he seemed so relieved that he could have something to work with. He worked through the first 4 chapters with speed and went straight to sleep rather than the night before where he was up for 2 hours worrying that he had no friends and is useless at everything.

thekitchenfairy Thu 03-Jan-13 23:48:59

Yes Ineed, he does have friends so not totally isolated, but I agree, too much time just us in the hols!

I'm only just finishing some work and shattered but will pop back on tomorrow.

Slallen Fri 04-Jan-13 22:46:50

Hi ladies

Little update, I decided it was time to leave my H on New Year's Eve so been a busy few days! Lots of crying on his part and of course DD knows something is up! We told her tonight the plan, me and DD are going to my mums for now and why it was happening in a very round about way! DD was more upset about leaving her home than her Daddy which says something but has gone to sleep tonight with the least amount of fuss for ages!

I wonder whether our difficulties are the root of her anxiety? Time will tell!

S x

Ineedmorepatience Sat 05-Jan-13 16:47:46

Wow, slallen, thats is a massive step but you have obviously thought long and hard about it.

Hope you and your Dd are ok.

Good lucksmile

tiger66 Sun 06-Jan-13 16:42:59

Anyone else had meltdown over taking the tree and Xmas decorations down? Mega meltdown here. Next year I will be taking them down without the children!

Ineedmorepatience Sun 06-Jan-13 16:56:54

Not this year tiger but we have in the past.

The last couple of years we have let Dd3 take all the decs down and put them on the table, then DP and I put them in the boxes.

I have found that if she has some control over taking them down it makes it easier for her.

In our house it is all about transitions. Moving between decs up and decs down is just the same as moving between tasks and between home and school.

Anxiety is nearly always about control.

Good luck, I hope he is calm now smile

eggsfloursugarbutter Tue 08-Jan-13 13:44:18

Just popping back in to say hello - have been manically busy over the Christmas period so no time to MN!

Lovely to see that the thread has taken off - not so lovely that we are all having to deal with our anxious children, but good that we have each other for support.

I've not read all through the thread yet but I'm going to grab my lunch and sit down for a peruse!

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year smile.

Ineedmorepatience Tue 08-Jan-13 15:25:36

Hi eggs I thought you had done a runnergrin

Glad to see you back and hope your LO has settled back to school ok.

Dd3 went back quite well but was very tired last night. Fingers crossed for all our Dc's settling back into school.

Slallen Fri 11-Jan-13 07:00:40

Thought I'd bump this as Fuzzpig couldn't find it and it took me a while!

My DD is not coping too badly with the changes! Tears if she's left anywhere except nursery, was only 6 ft away yesterday but was out of eye line!

Taking each day as it comes

S x

Ineedmorepatience Fri 11-Jan-13 14:20:43

Lol, I came to bump it too slallen

Hope you are OK and glad your Dd is coping ok.

goldmum Fri 11-Jan-13 18:34:35

Just checking back in and bumping thread too.

I am looking for any tips on handling new situations with anxious DS. He is desperate to join in with activities, like football with some friends from his class, but when he gets there he is so paralysed with anxiety, he can't join in, or he tries for 2 minutes and is then in floods of tears. He has also gone back to swimming lessons today and had a very stressful time of it even though he has previously enjoyed it. Today though, new teacher, new colour hat...too much for him.

I don't want to discourage him from trying new things, but I really need some pointers on relieving his anxiety and helping him through it. I need the right words too to use with him. Any advise gratefully received!

Also for those without special needs interventions, are your schools aware of your child's anxiety and how are they at supporting them? I'm just trying to decide what to do about DS at school, where he mostly seems fine, but his anxiety when at home is getting worse.


tacal Sat 12-Jan-13 10:13:23

Hi all, I have been having a terrible time with DS since the Christmas holidays. He does not want to go into nursery or anywhere without me. It makes life so difficult and I really hate seeing him being so upset when I try to leave him.

goldmum Sat 12-Jan-13 10:23:14

I feel for you, Tacal. It is so hard to see your child in distress. Do the staff at the nursery say how your DC is once you've left?

Would you be able to stay at a couple of nursery sessions? I did this when DS first started - sat in a corner so DS could see me, but tried not to engage with him too much. If he came to me, i would encourage him to play with a particular toy and then go back to sitting quietly in the corner. After a few sessions, I sat in the cloakroom or kitchen (so out of sight but still in the building and DS knew where I was). And eventually I left the building, first for half an hour, gradually building up to a full 2.5 hour session. I think it helped. Would your nursery be happy with something like this?

tacal Sat 12-Jan-13 10:34:01

Hi Goldmum, thank you for the advice. Maybe I will have to try something like that. My DS is 4 and he has been attending the same nursery since he was 9 months old. He goes through phases where he is like this and just does not want to be left. I have been staying for 15 to 20 mins until he is a bit more accepting of me leaving him. The nursery say he will sit by himself for 30 mins and not let anyone speak to him, then he is fine after that. It is also the same when I take him to my mums house. He clings onto me asking me to take him home. My mum has to leave him alone for a while then he will be fine after that. The Christmas holidays seem to have really unsettled him. If he continues to be like this maybe I will try staying a nursery longer or letting him know I am sitting in the reception area. Thanks again.

funnyfeet Sat 12-Jan-13 13:56:45

Hi, thanks for starting this, it has been quite comforting reading about your children. My ds is 6 and has anxiety. He has social issues although seems ok at school according to the teacher. My worry is that he is in a class of 30 and I am unsure if he is noticed or just blends in!
I try and avoid having friends to play here as they usually end in my ds crying. He occasionally is invited to play at friends houses and the mums say he is fine, so I have to believe he is!!
He has always had sleep issues. He wakes most nights calling out to me that he is scared and has bad dreams but he won't tell me what they are about. He is not a great talker about his feelings, he keeps it all in. Any ideas on how to get him to open up would be much appreciated! He seems to be doing quite well academically. His teacher says he is lovely and has friends but finds it hard to sit still and listen on the carpet. I can believe this, as he is quite difficult to engage and get to listen (i have to frequently repeat myself!) He is not a very active child though, and needs a lot of encouragement to go out and do things. He isn't sporty and would be happy staying at home all day playing board games, watching tv and playing computer games. I read the posters comments describing your son as being a sleeve chewer (mine is constantly chewing!) and having ADD so I looked it up. It sounds very similar to my son. What do I do next? Does he need to see a GP? The school nurse? Do I speak to his teacher? Any advice welcome thanks.

goldmum Sat 12-Jan-13 21:12:34

I really think anxiety goes in phases - sometimes DS seems genuinely fine, others he struggles with everything.

Funny feet - DS is fine when with others too. That makes me feel unsure about how to tackle stressful situations as I often think he has to manage (and therefore gets on with it) without me there.

Its hard to get anxious kids to open up. DS now says he has bad daydreams to describe how he feels when he worries. We talk about feeling worried and what he can do to help himself feel better, but at the moment I do most of the talking as he doesn't have words or understanding to express how he feels.

Ineedmorepatience Sat 12-Jan-13 22:50:35

Hi funnyfeet, I think if you have a concern about your Ds you do need to see your GP.

There could be an underlying causes for his anxiety.

I would recommend talking to your Gp on your own initially and tell him/her what your concerns are.

Ask for a referral to a developmental paediatrician. While you are waiting for an appointment, keep a diary of your sons issues, what causes them and how you deal with them.

Good lucksmile

Ineedmorepatience Sat 12-Jan-13 22:59:42

One way I can get Dd3 to talk about how she feels is too use stick man cartoons with thought and speech bubbles.

The technique is called "Comic strip conversations" and it is often used with children with autism, I think it would work with any child who has trouble expressing themselves though.

We usually draw 2 stick people one to represent me and one her and using squares of paper we work through an incident or something that is worrying her literally like a comic. You can also do it by folding the paper in to 8 squares and drawing each bit of the conversation in a square.

I prefer the individual squares because Dd3 sometimes struggles with sequencing so we can shuffle the story around at the end.

Sorry that was very rambly. Hope it made some sense smile

funnyfeet Sun 13-Jan-13 20:01:06

Thank you for your suggestions, I like the idea of getting him to draw how he is feeling! And I shall start a diary logging my sons difficulties. I will start it now, after an incident this morning!
I shall also make an appt with the GP although I am unimpressed with our current one. He is very old fashioned and seems to lack warmth! I will report back how it goes!
Thank you all again!

dilys4trevor Sun 13-Jan-13 21:36:33

A latecomer but thanks for starting this thread.

DS1 has just turned 4. He has always been clingy and worried but overall is getting better. Still though, some things are big issues. The sleeve chewing stuff is interesting. His thing is hair pulling. He used to do it when he was tired or in a new situation and it would send him into a kind of trance, where he would also make a subtle sucking motion with his mouth. He even made a bald patch. We now keep his hair very short and it is better.
He is hysterical about having his hair cut though (we do it at home as the scenes at the barbers just became too much). I try and get him out of his shell as much as I can, and reward him for 'joining in' with treats and stuff (no idea if this is the right thing to do but it works). He is good with friends he knows well but not good at all with adults (even those he knows well). At the same time, he can be quite aggressive with us or his friends when he can't express himself. I am never sure if it is just his personality or what. Sometimes I see myself in him (I was very anxious too up until about age 8 or 9).

Having said all that, he is overall fine with unusual situations and Christmas and all that. I took him to see the Walking With Dinosaurs show and he loved it (most kids he knows who went had to leave halfway through as it was quite full on). He seems bright and is obsessed with nature and animals.

One thing I wanted to say is that despite being very anxious too as a child (I was terrified of adults I didn't know, very scared of Father Christmas, never spoke up in class, and very timid of any physical challenge), I got progressively better and then by the time I was a teen was very ordinary and went on to have lots of mates and go to Cambridge and now am married with two kids and a good job. Living proof that anxious kids CAN just get confident and grow out of it. I'm trying to adopt a wait and see policy. I think school will be a big teller (starts next year). He never speaks up in front of adults, even on subjects he adores. Only today at Sunday School the kids were asked to identify an animal. He knew what it was and is actually a bit obsessed with it (it was a whale shark), but he just looked blank when I prompted him and whispered 'I don't know', looking petrified. Like some others on this thread, I'm anxious about school starting (big classes etc) and I also get pre-stressed about situations that I think might stress him out, and I try and predict how he will react and put conditions in place for a good afternoon or what have you. I did a 4th party for him (he said he wanted it) and it went really well. I only realised afterwards when I had a big row with DH that I had been really stressed out about it going well, and the relief of it being a success (no crying, no hair pulling, no 'i don't want this party any-more') sent me a bit doo-lally. I envy other parents who complain that their child is too boisterous or too 'me, me, me.' An anxious child is a big strain.

Ineedmorepatience Sun 13-Jan-13 21:58:25

Hi dilys, It is great to hear that you outgrew your anxieties. Dd3 is less fearful of somethings than she was when she was little but other anxieties seem to have come along and replaced them.

Does your Ds go to preschool or nursery? If he does how does he get on?

funnyfeet Sun 13-Jan-13 22:18:14

dilys Your son sounds very similar to mine. He is also very into dinosaurs, nature and since being at school, space and science. I am a bit of a worrier and get myself worked up before certain events that I think he may find too much, and then when it all turns out fine I berate myself for getting worked up in the first place!

dilys4trevor Mon 14-Jan-13 09:58:37

I can't tell you how comforting I am finding this thread! I don't think (although I keep an open mind) that he is SN, but it is almost like there is 'normal' (what a hateful word) and then there is SN and there is nothing in between, and there is a well defined boundary between the two. It is good to know that that neither is true.

Ineed, he does go to nursery, and has done since 1 year old. But we changed nurseries when we moved to the other side of London mid last year and it took (and is still taking to an extent) a very long time to settle. Nursery say that he is great with his friends and fits in, but that he clams up when an adult tries to join the conversation. He won't even really speak to me in the presence of most other adults (although a couple of my close mum friends who he sees a fair bit are exceptions, as well as some key family members). He also won't ever tell a teacher when he gets pushed or smacked. So he does occasionally get targeted I fear.

I don't know if I am alone here but because I know what it is like to be a child and feel anxious, and also because I know what a terrible waste of time it is (I look back now and I so wanted to enjoy 'fun' stuff as a kid but my anxiety stopped me), I sometimes get cross with him, especially if we go to a party or something and it is painful but then he is naughty straight after. Then I feel awful, as I am his mother and also I CAN relate to it. In fact, it is almost the fact that I can understand it that makes it all so exasperating.

The incentivising through little treats to join in really does work (I think he starts off forcing himself to get the treat but then ends up enjoying it) but it is like we go back to square one each time; he doesn't seem to 'learn' that joining in is fun. It is costing me a fortune in little plastic nature figures! Is it wrong to bribe? Does that make it even more of a chore for him?

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