Son's school anxieties(10 Posts)
My 11 year old son has a lot of anxiety issues and his impending start at senior school this September has already sent him into meltdown overdrive. He is very scared of starting big school and has been in floods of tears and panicky for some weeks now and I am at the end of my tether. I can see September coming and the whole thing being one big disaster as he will either refuse to go or be in such an extreme state of anxiety it will be impossible to get him to attend. He realises that he suffers excessively from anxiety but doesn't know how to stop. Nothing I say or do seems to put his mind at ease and I am now dreading September myself. Has anyone a child who is over anxious? It is affecting the whole family.
Does he know any children from his primary who went to this school last year, now Y7?
Could you ask parent if they would be happy for them to talk to your ds about the school. Maybe informally, hang out/ play date whatever they call it.
Could you speak to the SENCO at the school and express your fears, ask if they have any suggestions. They may let you both attend during the day and see the children working. Not everyone can make it to an open day and I've heard of this before.
Definitely contact the SENCo and ask for support to organise an enhanced transition package and support for his first few weeks in school.
Take every opportunity you have to get him there for open evenings, fundraising events, etc to help him familiarise himself as much as possible.
The school staff should see this as an opportunity to prevent future problems and therefore be receptive to requests for support now.
Has he had problems with anxiety in his current school? If so, make sure there is a good record to back up his support needs. You can also ask them to involve the educational psychologist to help him learn to manage his anxiety better.
Thank you for your replies. He has already had a taster day but it didn't go well, he had to go home during the day due to his anxieties making him ill. He has a choice of two schools, one State and one Independent but he is finding reasons to panic with both of them. I will read through your answers again and contact the people suggested who hopefully will have experience with children who have suffered the same extreme anxiety.
I am definitely NOT an expert. But how about cognitive behaviour therapy - for dealing with the anxiety? I have used it very successfully (as an adult) and read a recent article about someone who was using it as a teenager (also successfully). I know that some health authorities offer it to children too. Perhaps do some research and see what you think? Or ask your GP? SENCO? Or elsewhere on Mumsnet. Anxiety can be crippling and I can only imagine how it might feel as a child. Good luck to you both.
Is he anxious by nature about other things too? I assume he is someone who dislikes change, and requires routine.
What is it that he is finding so scary? Has he had this about school before. Can he tell you what it is about the change that panics him?
You could try asking for a referral to CAMHS for CBT but they will probably refuse to see him because it's a school issue. Educational psychologists are responsible for helping children with school anxiety.
Have a google - don't get too worked up as there are some extreme sites out there - but look for a 'reputable' source, School phobia is a lot more common than you'd imagine, and is fixable.
Schools should have pastoral care and they will have seen this all before. Does he know anyone going to the school in the same year as him? Does the new school have any holiday or after school clubs that he could attend? I would consider speaking to your current school and asking if contacting the new school would help (maybe they could arrange some kind of visits to the new school over time to help extinguish the anxiety).
Can he 'name' the issues? I would think about hypnotherapy for him - it would help him to manage anxiety and stress (a very useful life skill anyway) and teach him relaxation. It is a 'light' therapy, so he wont feel as if he is seeing a 'head doctor' or other possible negative connotations/labels of visiting a psychologist etc. I'm a great one for not labelling young people (I was a therapist but don't treat now) as it can tie them into a pattern of expected/behaviour and gives an issue more gravitas - the child 'becomes' the issue iykwim. If you see any kind of therapist make sure that they specialise in school/phobia/anxiety and have lots of experience working with kids/young people.
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