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over anxious 7 yr old. is this normal?

(11 Posts)
shelsco Wed 22-Jul-09 13:17:31

My ds has just turned 7 and over the last 2 months has become obsessively worried about germs and being poisoned. It's at the point now where he is crying on a night,every night,over some every day occurence that he is terrified about. For example,he was worried that a mark on his sheet that he touched could be something poisonous, then worried that someone accidently kicked him near his mouth and the shoe could have had dog poo on it. Then worried he had touched a berry in the garden then put his hand in his mouth. No matter how much i try to reassure him, he doesn't seem to be getting any better. He has played outside this morning and has come in repeatedly asking about things which could hurt him and obviously very worried. He's also having nightmares about being locked in places. He does have quite severe asthma although its under control now and suffers from allergies and carries an epi-pen although he has never had to use it.He went through a stage of being admitted to hospital in the past with his asthma so i don't know if this has scared him and made him scared of dying.This was about 2 years ago though. I'm at my wits end now because hes so incredibly anxious. Anyone had similar experience with their DC?

morningsun Wed 22-Jul-09 14:56:13

aww poor thing!
hopefully it's just a phase,I would good humouredly reassure that some germs are everywhere and that is normal,so not to worry about where they are.

Also that our bodies have ways of fighting germs and that is good as it has to practise fighting them all our lives.If there weren't any germs our immune system wouldn't get this practice.

He is most likely just a bit sensitive and intelligent...if it carries on and on or interferes a lot with daily life go to the GP for assessment of ?obsessive compulsive disorder/anxiety

on a practical note,do a few things out of his usual routine,trips,visits etc to see if you can break the associations and pattern of worries that he has.

randomtask Wed 22-Jul-09 15:09:50

I'm afraid I don't have any amazing advice, but my DS (aged 7) can also be anxious and has started questioning about germs.

I'm not always entirely patient with him and have been known to ask him if he trusts me, then when he says yes, I tell him there is no way he's going to get poisoned by germs or anything else. Weirdly, it seems to make him believe me. We have also told him that there are good and bad germs, that a little bit of bad germs isn't bad for you as it makes you stronger to fight the really big ones, and that if he wants things really clean, don't make a mess! I probably shouldn't admit this but, it's actually made him eat neatly. He used to drop his knife/fork constantly and also manage to get his food all over the table. He's now being more careful and cleaning his area of the table after he eats grin. I suspect it won't last long!

I think all you can do is explain it simply so he understands and then keep saying the same thing. DS struggles more when DH then says 'well......' after I've given a black and white answer.

danthe4th Wed 22-Jul-09 15:39:35

I would perhaps teach him a tactic to relax, when he feels anxious to breathe slowly, google relaxation for children. I'm sure its a phase that will pass but their are plenty of over anxious adults so I would look into relaxation exercises and take his fears seriously, they are to him, but don't overdo it and end up pandering to it!

shelsco Wed 22-Jul-09 16:20:24

Thanks.Have tried the good germs/ bad germs thing and explaining that we need germs etc so our body learns to recognise them but doesn't seem to reassure him very much.Might try something along the lines of him trusting me when i tell him that he's safe. Relaxation is a good idea, I hadn't thought of that. I did google obsessive compulsive disorder but he didn't seem to have the symptoms of that- he doesn't wash obsessively or anything- but his anxiety is definitely obsessional. Don't know if its linked to all recent stuff on swine flu. Does anyone know if this type of thing has a trigger. It just seemed to start so suddenly.

morningsun Wed 22-Jul-09 16:24:51

Keep it simple~germs are good in small amounts.
It could be from CBBC or the campaign to catch it kill it bin it for swine flu~or maybe an advert for dettol~there is a scary advert about germs atm I've seen on one of the kids channels.

randomtask Wed 22-Jul-09 16:57:22

My DS has also started asking about Swine Flu and if it'll kill him/us. I think that's probably because of the news stories, plus he worries more about that as his birth mother died sad.

maybebaby23 Wed 22-Jul-09 20:37:41

I would most definately take him to your GP and see what they say, perhaps a referral to a therapist or someone who could help with OCD. I say this because i was just exactly like your little boy when i was the same age. I worried to death about choking, fainting, getting germs, being sick, dying etc the list was endless. I stayed up very late every single night crying my eyes out and my mum sat with me trying to reassure me as best she could. I did believe what she told me (that i won't faint/be sick/die) but the next day the problem was back and it went on and on and on, it ruined my childhood as i spent each morning being sick with fear and ending up coming home from school at lunch time most days.

I really feel i needed help but i never got it. My mum didn't take me to the GP. She has since told me that she was scared that i would have "mental illness" on my record hmm but i believe she just didn't know what to do. I don't know but felt i had to post as your little boy sounds so distressed just as i was, and i will never forget how terrified and alone i felt. This has resulted in me becoming an over anxious adult and i do suffer from health anxiety and a touch of OCD, panic attacks and a very fast heartrate. It holds me back and if i let it i know it would stop me leaving my house at all. Im 23 now and have only just learnt to deal with it and stop it from taking over my life. its been a huge horrid secret that i have lived with on my own and it affected my education and everything.

Just take him to your GP, what is there to lose. I wish you and your little boy all the best.

shelsco Wed 22-Jul-09 21:17:38

Thanks. i must admit part of me wants to take him to GP but another part is afraid of him having 'mental illness' written on his records. I would feel better if i knew there was definitely something they could do that could help him but am worried he'll just be labelled without anything actually changing! I really admire you maybebaby for getting so far on your own without any help. My DH is against going to GP so am going to keep an eye on it over summer hols but take him at the end if no improvement. thanks.

maybebaby23 Wed 22-Jul-09 21:30:01

Sorry i didnt mean to come across so negative in my post! Reading it just reminded me so much of what i have been through and i just had to reply.

It may well be a phase and you know your child best, i really hope you see some improvement by the end of the hols.
Good luck

shelsco Wed 22-Jul-09 22:01:16

Thanks. Really hope it is a phase. have looked on google and it sounds like could be generalised anxiety disorder. can apparently be treated with therapy to help rationalise fears and have found some good tips for parents. Needs to last about 6 months before can be diagnosed so will try tips in the meantime and hope they help.

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