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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.

LadyHel Sun 03-Feb-13 11:57:01

Hello, can I join you? I have read so many things in this thread that ring true to me and am so glad I have found you!

I have an anxious 4yo DS1. DS2 aged 2y couldn't be more laid back (thank god). DS1 has always been high maintenance, ever since he was newborn really. We could never go more than half an hour in the car without him screaming, I had to hold him for nigh on 24 hours a day to stop him crying, until he was 18 mths I could only ever buy 5 items max from a supermarket before he had a meltdown, every playgroup and toddler club that I took him to was a complete disaster from the moment we (tried to) walk through the doors etc etc.

He started at pre-school in September and seemed to settle in very well, much to my surprise and immense relief. I went to see the teacher in October as I was really worried about him (I can't remember what now) and she said that he was doing well and was interacting with all the other children, and that they didn't have any worries about him whatsoever, so I assumed I was being overly sensitive.

Sadly though my dad unexpectedly passed away in December. DS1 was very close to him and although he seems to have accepted what has happened, he misses my dad an awful lot and it seems to have manifested in more negative behaviour. When I pick him up from pre-school now his teacher more often than not tells me that he is very angry / emotional / tearful / grumpy. Last week he seemed genuinely frightened when I dropped him off at pre-school and was clinging onto me saying that his friends 'frightened' him. This has never happened before.

He chews his sleeves - I had never associated it with anxiety and thought it was just a habit, he has also started biting his nails. He has had two Christmas 'sing songs' at his nursery & pre-school (when he was 3 and 4) and didn't participate in either, just cried and clung onto me. He was the only child on both occasions that didn't join in.

I think my major problem is that life has never been easy with DS1 ever since he was born so I'm always watching out for problems before they even happen. I know that other mums think that I'm neurotic because they have absolutely no idea what I go through when DS1 gets anxious. It's so second nature now that I don't even really notice how anxious he gets because everything is mapped out in our lives to try to minimise the meltdowns. I was diagnosed with post natal depression about 18 months ago (although tbh I thnk I have had PND since DS1 was very little and it just went undiagnosed) and am mostly doing really well but this latest issue with him being upset at pre-school has sent me spinning really.

I went to see the GP about it on Friday. She is reluctant to refer him as she says he is too young but instead suggested that I try a local parenting course so that I can learn to deal with him in a more positive way. I'm going to give them a ring tomorrow.

I haven't had a chance to read all the replies to this thread yet but aim to have a proper read through to see if any of you have any advice or tips.

Thank you.

dilys4trevor Sun 03-Feb-13 12:03:54

Ladyhel, I really sympathise with you. I have been that mum with the only child who isn't joining in SOOO many times! DS1 is getting better but still needs a pep talk before every party etc. I'm sorry to hear about your dad. My dad is also a major figure in DS1's life.

Ineedmorepatience Sun 03-Feb-13 18:30:35

Hi ladyhel and welcome, I just wanted to say that parenting courses do have a place and you might find it really helpful but I do think that your dads death could be playing a part in your ds's anxiety at the moment.

When you went to the Gp did you mention that his behaviour had escalated after your dad died?
I have no idea if there is counselling available for 4 yr olds maybe it would be called play therapy?

I think I would be inclined to make enqiries about this, mainly because if he is starting school in September he is going to have some major changes in his life and if he is already struggling it is going to be really tough for him.

Do you have a sure start centre near you? They might be able to help or just go back to your Gp and say that you want him referred so that you can get him back on track before he starts school.

Good lucksmile

Jacksterbear Mon 04-Feb-13 12:11:42

Ladyhel, I really sympathise with you. I have been that mum with the only child who isn't joining in SOOO many times!

^ Yep me too! Sports days, nativity plays, Jubilee parades, as well as birthday parties etc etc... with the other mums looking on in sympathy but also presumably thinking that if I weren't such a helicopter parent he would be fine! sad Also share your sense of relief at having found this thread and realising we aren't the only family out there going through this! [happy]

LadyHel Mon 04-Feb-13 14:33:42

Thank you everyone for the warm welcome. And yes, I was thinking only this morning that I'm probably seen as a helicopter parent! If only they knew! Am slowly realising that I don't really care if they think that though, which is hugely liberating.

Ineedmorepatience yes I did mention that DS1's behaviour has been exacerbated since my dad passed away. Interestingly I called the phone number for the parenting course and it was actually my local Sure Start Centre. They were lovely but the lady I needed to speak to isn't in until later in the week. My GP had also given me the number of a local organisation (CRUSE) which offers support in times of bereavement, so I have left a message with them too.

In the cold light of day I have think that taking DS1 somewhere at this stage to try to help him may actually make him more anxious, so I'm going to try to see what we can do for him ourselves in the first place. Without doubt it has got worse within the last few months, but it's always been pretty high up on our radar, so even without my dad passing away, it's something that we need to get a better handle on.

I've also emailed his teacher at pre-school (I usually dissolve into tears whenever I try to talk to her about DS1) to try to involve her a little more in the process.

Thanks everyone. Today is a much better day.

Ineedmorepatience Mon 04-Feb-13 20:25:15

Glad you have had a better day ladyhel smile

Ineedmorepatience Thu 07-Feb-13 17:36:45

Bumping for algor smile

Jacksterbear Thu 07-Feb-13 19:26:54

Hey everyone smile. Hope everyone ok.

Having a generally ok week but mega meltdown this afternoon when plans changed and my DM picked DS up from school when he was expecting DH to collect him. He was not happy when he saw Grandma waiting instead of Daddy, refused to go to her, screamed and cried and clung to his teacher. He is still sulky and tearful 4 hrs later! (He adores his grandma btw, it was the unexpected change of plan that upset him.)

Ineedmorepatience Thu 07-Feb-13 19:49:52

Bless him jackster hope his Grandma wasnt too upsetsad

Dd3 was stressy today after school too because someone who was supposed to be working with her today was off sick. I feel sorry for the person who is ill but she just cant see beyond her own agenda.

LapinDeBois Fri 08-Feb-13 13:59:12

Oh that sort of thing is so tricky, jackster. When DS1 was 3 we left him with my parents for two nights while we went for a weekend away. He was absolutely fine, because we'd explained to him exactly what was happening, but then my parents took him to visit his other granny while we were away (even though we'd expressly warned them that it might upset him angry). As expected, he had a complete meltdown and wouldn't go anywhere near her, which really upset her (he normally adores her). I think he perhaps thought he was going to be left there instead - I'm not sure. Anyway, the other granny is fine about it now, but I think she was quite upset for a long time afterwards (she worships him). It's all water under the bridge now, though - and she's looking after him for three nights in a few weeks' time while we go away smile.

TarkaLiotta Fri 08-Feb-13 15:56:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jacksterbear Fri 08-Feb-13 19:22:47

Welcome Tarka smile

Ineedmore and Lapin, thanks, my DM is used to ds' outbursts but still it must have been pretty humiliating in the school playground! sad

Ineedmorepatience Mon 11-Feb-13 19:44:56

Hi all hope you are all surviving. We break up on friday but Dd3 is struggling, she is tired and now her teacher has had to have surgerysad. Feel for him obviously but she doesnt do well with different teachers.

Am bumping as well for a new poster called stephanie

goldmum Mon 11-Feb-13 19:53:58

All our lovely DCs just like their routines, don't they? The world doesn't always comply though.

DS was meant to be picked up from school by a friend today - a long standing arrangement. Friend had car trouble so I picked up DS and friend's DD instead. DS had tears in his eyes as he was expecting one thing and something different happened. Didn't have a full on meltdown though so it is progress of sorts smile

Ineedmorepatience Mon 11-Feb-13 19:59:23

Sounds like great progress to me*gold*. Dd3 would have definitely had a meltdown over that.grin

Jacksterbear Mon 11-Feb-13 20:39:22

goldmum after our similar experience to you last week I have agreed with the school that if we ever have to change plans re who is picking ds up, I will phone the school office in advance and they will pass a message in to him so he is more prepared.

All ok with us, more or less - the odd tear and mini meltdown here and there but nothing major for a few days grin.

Jacksterbear Mon 11-Feb-13 20:44:35

And ineedmore sorry yr dd3 is struggling, will the cover teacher be someone she is familiar with or not?

Ineedmorepatience Mon 11-Feb-13 21:43:24

Hopefully it will be the student who has been working with them. But I dont know how long her teacher will be off.

On the subject of changing plans, I also phone the office if things are going to be different for Dd3, usually the office staff are very helpful. Messages sometimes gets a bit mixed up but at least she knows there is a change coming.

Jacksterbear Tue 12-Feb-13 16:45:54

Ineedmore, I hope that works out ok and that there is enough familiarity retained for her not to be thrown too badly by the change.

StephanieCB30 Tue 12-Feb-13 20:24:10

Hi, this has been bumped for me, can I join?

Jacksterbear Tue 12-Feb-13 20:51:25

Welcome stephanie, tell us about your anxious dc(s)! smile

Jacksterbear Wed 13-Feb-13 08:10:37

Morning everyone, not a good morning for us. All hell broke loose when dh left for work. Ds screaming and clinging on to him and trying to run out of the door after him. sad. Seems to have calmed down a bit now, just hope I can get him to school ok.

Everyone else ok?

Jacksterbear Wed 13-Feb-13 08:19:19

Oh and ds' screaming also upset dd (2) so she has been hysterical too sad

Ineedmorepatience Wed 13-Feb-13 09:57:41

What a shame jackster, did you manage to get him into school?

Any idea what upset him this morning, was it just that he didnt want daddy to gosad

Dd3 has actually been fine with the student, due to the fact that he has gone soft on her and let her off her lunchtime detention for not handing her homework in. She is now besotted with him. Lol.

He may regret doing that because doing something once is equal to setting up a new routine as far as Dd3 is concerned so I am not holding out any hope of ever getting the homework done on time againgrin

Oh well, at least she is going into school happysmile

Jacksterbear Wed 13-Feb-13 12:50:36

Thanks ineedmore, he was more or less ok by the time we got to school. Yes it was wanting daddy not to leave that did it. Dh's working hours are pretty flexible: he can quite often leave home late or come home early to do the school run, and sometimes works from home. Brilliant from the pov of being able to see the dcs during the week but not good in terms of a fixed routine unfortunately!

I am not looking forward to having to deal with homework and detentions! Hope yr dd3 continues to be happy and you find a resolution to the homework issue!

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