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can we deal with this or should we be getting medical/professional help? 9 year old dd and her funny ways.

(25 Posts)
hatwoman Mon 28-Sep-09 11:08:15

Does anyone have any experience or advice about my 9 year old dd? apologies if this gets long...

she quite often tells us about feeling unwell - sometimes headaches or tummy aches, but sometimes she isn't really sure what's wrong - just says she's feeling funny. Very often when this happens we can tie it to a source of stress - sleeping in strange places is a trigger (and we are even beginning to wonder if this has been the reason behind 3 bouts of actual vomiting).She realises this herself and agrees that sometimes it might be "nerves".

she says she hates school. but can't tell us anything in particular she hates about it. she says most of what she learns she learns out of school and she doesn't see the point.she was crying in bed last night - and din't get to sleep til about 11 am. cried on her way to school this morning, complained of a headache - I brought her back home and she's now in bed. in fact this morning she even told me that she "hates people" shock.

she's a bit funny about eating - pretty picky - and doesn;t eat any great volume. she's as skinny as a rake (but then again lots of 9 year olds are, and she always has been skinny). sometimes she goes in phases of leaving the table to "go to the loo" mid meal. she really doesn;t like eating at other people's houses.

we moved 9 months ago - for 2 years - with the possibility of going back (though increasingly dh and I don't want to). She found the move quite hard - left a good friend behind and found it quite hard to make new ones - but she seems to have settled in ok now (despite this morning's protesations about hating school)

Now - when I write all that down my immediate reaction, to myself, iyswim, is that yes we should at least take her to the doctors. but all of the above probably occupies 5 per cent, or less, of her time. the rest of the time she's happy and gets along just fine (or, if not beamingly happy, she's just got her lip out because she's been told to tidy her room/turn the computer off/that she can;t have more sweets etc) - so I find myself thinking that to take her to the doc's over all this might be an over-reaction to something that's no more than the normal trials of being a 9 year old and that would, in fact, make it all bigger than it is.

I don't want to ignore things - nor do I want to exacerbate them. I do worry that this could be depression or anxiety but then I think not when she steps back into normal mode. I just want to do the best for dd - and I don't know what "the best" is. any advice?

Snowtiger Mon 28-Sep-09 11:18:22

I don't think you're over-reacting, just spotting a potential problem and trying to nip it in the bud. It could be an anxiety related issue that doesn't affect her all the time - but when it does, it causes her big problems that either manifest themselves physically or which she can't communicate to you any way other than physically.

I'm not saying your daughter has an eating disorder or depression or anything like that, just as a point of comparison (and I speak from personal experience) often those kind of physical manifestations (over eating / not eating / vomiting etc) or complaining of illness are the only way a child can tell you that they're not feeling 'right'.

She might be having trouble with her peers, or going through a period of low self esteem, lacking social confidence, all sorts of things that are very real problems to a 9 year old. I think you're being a great mum trying to help her find the right way through it.

Just as a suggestion, have you ever thought about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)? Might be worth investigating it, see if you can find a therapist who treats children, then talk to your DD about whether or not she'd like to talk to someone who can help her manage her nerves and get rid of her headaches / tummy aches? Might be less stressful for her than going to the GP who's more likely to diagnose something related to the physical symptoms rather than the underlying emotional causes / problems, IYSWIM?

Good luck with it - definitely think you're right to seek some help.

Stigaloid Mon 28-Sep-09 11:18:36

I have no advice but didn't want your thread to go unresponded too. (hugs)

Themasterandmargaritas Mon 28-Sep-09 11:33:26

Oh Hattie, sorry to hear this.

It all sounds quite similar to my dd who is about to turn 8.

We had a lot of sore tummies and headaches about a year ago, with nothing specific but we too think they are 'stress' related, after all we had moved house 3 times within 3 different countries in a space of 18mths.

Dd has always been 'hard work' and it's only now that I am starting to understand her. Now I have realised she is supersensitive to what is going on around her, though ironically up until now, very confident and bossy. She took a knocking of her self confidence at school last term and now we are in full throes of 'I am useless at x, useless at y, just hopeless'. She is also very mature for her age, so, in a way, doesn't quite fit in in her class at school.

I'm not helping much am I? I suppose I want to say that you are not alone.

What really works for us is me NOT asking all the time, what is it, what is wrong? But ensuring we are in situations on our own, so that she can talk about anything that may be bothering her. As usual, lots of positive encouragement from me, rather than biting her head off for the smallest thing. Trying to involve her in day to day stuff also has helped, for example she will help me chop the veg and whilst doing so she may talk a bit about school.

Is there a friend's mum who she may confide in? Annoying though it is, dd will talk a great deal to my best friend and a lovely teacher at school who is not her class teacher, but is on her table at lunchtime.

Sadly I think a great deal of it is their changing emotions and their changing bodies. It's difficult to articulate sometimes when you feel sad for no obvious reason....

I'm not sure going to the GP will necessarily help, it might just make her think too much about her emotions, iyswim.

hatwoman Mon 28-Sep-09 11:36:01

thanks both of you - both lovely posts. will see if I get any other responses and keep thinking.

snowtiger - I guess you're thinking about going straight to a cb therapist rather than via the doc? I hadn't really thought about that...I'll look into it. (did you used to be a different big cat btw?)

hatwoman Mon 28-Sep-09 11:36:51

and a third lovely post too - thanks master

Pitchounette Mon 28-Sep-09 12:01:30

Message withdrawn

claw3 Mon 28-Sep-09 12:37:26

Could she be being bullied in school?

My ds has lots of headaches and tummy aches, cant sleep,hates school, dislikes people etc, etc.

He is being bullied.

hatwoman Mon 28-Sep-09 12:43:28

claw - I wondered that too. And have even been in to talk to her teachers - I didn;t actually, explicitly vocalise that particular concern - just said I was worried about her finding it hard to settle in to the new school. they agreed that she was quiet - and I know she's not a natural at making friends - but I was reasonably reassured that they were keeping an eye on her - it's a v. small school so that seems more possible than normal. I don't think there's bullying. there may well be rather intense playground politics though - there are only 5 girls in her year

hatwoman Mon 28-Sep-09 12:44:12

sorry to hear re your ds - does school know? are they doing anything about it?

cocolepew Mon 28-Sep-09 12:49:31

My friends son is naturally anxious, he has been diagnosed with abdominal migraines, caused by stress.

My DD suffers from anxiety, the bach flowers help her, you can go to a website and have your own made up to suit the childs problem.

cocolepew Mon 28-Sep-09 12:50:23


stickylittlefingers Mon 28-Sep-09 12:57:36

Hatwoman - neither of mine are that old yet, but as a 9yo I had real anxiety issues, despite the fact that my school was lovely (and my parents are lovely too!). It certainly would have helped me to have really talked it all out with someone - as it is I'm still sort of left with the scars.

I'm not sure who that "someone" would be, but some professional help could certainly make your dd happier and sort her out before she starts on the mad stuff I did!

francagoestohollywood Mon 28-Sep-09 13:05:52

Hi Hatwoman,
it does sound like stress/anxiety. Perhaps she hasn't settled in her new environment yet.
When I was eleven (my first year at middle school here in Italy) I got very anxious about school, as a different effort and method of studying were requested and I really wanted to do well.
The stress and anxiety translated into feeling nauseous (the doctor said I had gastritis) quite often, especially in the mornings.
In my case, telling my mother I was feeling physically ill worked better than telling her I was scared hmm, she was more understanding.
Anyway, even now, when I'm stressed/anxious, it's my stomach that suffers!

claw3 Mon 28-Sep-09 13:07:56

Just some of the symptoms you describe struck a cord with me. My ds's bullying went unnoticed by school for a good six months. He too is in a very small school, 1 class per year. Even now the school shy away from the 'b' word and would never admit to it going on.

It may well not be the case, but she does sound anxious about something. Hope you get to the bottom of it.

Snowtiger Mon 28-Sep-09 15:30:22

Hi hatwoman - yes, I was thinking you could go to a CBtherapist directly, if it appealed - depends on your GP, but my experience of some GPs has been that they tend to either scare children into staying quiet, because they've only got a 5 min appointment slot and so get straight to the point with direct questioning, or they kind of treat the symptom rather than the problem e.g. giving antacids etc for stomach ache rather than seeing the problem behind the alleged stomach ache. But that's possibly just my experience.

Definintely agree with themasterandmargaritas (great name by the way, and a great book!) about seeing if your DD will talk to someone she trusts, such as an auntie or friend's mum or something, upsetting as it may be for you. It sounds as if there's something causing her some anxiety and stress, and coaxing that information out of her may be easier for someone not quite so close to her.

By the way, no, I've only ever been Snowtiger

TheMightyToosh Mon 28-Sep-09 15:41:48

Saying she hates people suggests that something has happened with someone to make her say that. Has she had a run in with someone or is she being bullied?

The other symptoms definitely suggest anxiety of some sort.

There is a thing called 'social phobia' that I've suffered from in the past. It can make you hate people even when they've done nothing wrong! but just because you feel like you are on the outside and it is just too hard for you to integrate because of your fear.

Maybe moving etc has just been too hard, and she is lacking the confidence to mix with her new peers, causing anxiety and hostility towards the people around her who she sees effortlessly getting on with life when she is finding it hard at the moment.

I don't have any experience of how to handle as my DD is only small yet, but I would certainly try to get as much info out of her as you can (or via someone else if she is more willing to talk to them) and then get some professional help if you can to try to nip it in the bud, so as to limit the impact it might have as she grows older.

Hope you get somewhere smile

MintyCane Mon 28-Sep-09 15:53:49

I have a child who has social anxiety and is mute outside the home. She gets abdominal migraines. She finds any situation where there are a lot of people very difficult and needs down time sometimes. She finds it difficult to eat when stressed. It is worth taking her to the doctors as it can lead to long term tummy problems. We find it useful to keep a diary of when the headaches and tummy aches occur. You may find it is happening on particular day or time of day. It is difficult for them to spot the pattern themsleves sometimes.

mimsum Mon 28-Sep-09 19:10:46

ds1 has always suffered from anxiety but it has got much much better over the last couple of years (he's now 12)

when he was younger he'd go through phases of diving behind a wall if he saw children walking the other way up the street, he couldn't eat at other people's houses, if he ate at all when he was out he'd crumble everything into tiny pieces, he couldn't go on the tube and we could guarantee that he'd be spectacularly sick on the first night of any holiday

doing visualisations with him at bedtime helped a lot (he called them 'calming down stories') lots of getting him to focus on being calm, peaceful, safe, happy

but he's also much happier at secondary school - it suits him down to the ground and he's doing really well now - which is fantastic as at one point I couldn't see how he could possibly ever be independent as his anxiety was so crippling

hatwoman Mon 28-Sep-09 20:55:34

oh mimsum - your poor ds - and you too. glad it's getting better now. interesting what you said about him being sick. dd was sick the afternoon of what would have been her first sleepover - she was out with the family - who she's known since she was at nursery, been to play there every other week for 4-5 years. we didn't think anything of it at the time - just thought it was a tummy bug. this spring we went on two holidays that involved a certain amount of interaction with strangers (one a ski-ing holiday, and one staying in a small hotel with communal eating and a mucking in type approach). she was sick both times. and twice recently she's come home early from sleepovers feeling sick - though the second time she said she thought it was nerves rather than being poorly. very reassuring to hear your ds got over this - and I like the idea of the calming down stories.

can I ask if your ds found it hard to fit in a bit at school? did secondary school provide him with a load of different "types", if you like, so he could find someone he felt comfortable with? I'm slightly dreading the transition to secondary but perhaps I don;t need to (certainly got to be careful not to impart that)

can I just say - a really big thankyou to everyone who's taken the time to post. there's lots of stuff for dh and I to think about here. I'm a bit of an oldtimer and have often felt mn might have lost its ability to provide help and support. I've even been nervous about posting for advice in case it prompts some sort of barny or I end up having to defend myself - but mn still comes up trumps when you need it - so thanks lots smile

mimsum Mon 28-Sep-09 21:34:24

I was very anxious about secondary transfer - during y5 I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling terrified about how he would cope! But he's actually been coping much better than we thought/feared

We were very careful with the school we chose and they have been brilliant with him. He went in to spend a day there in the summer term before he went which helped enormously. The school also has a fantastic swimming pool - swimming is ds' 'thing' and he says he feels 'safe' when he's in the pool.

The other thing is the school is all-boys - and much bigger than his primary - which gave him a much larger pool of potential friends - as you say, there are a lot more different 'types' and less pressure to conform to a very narrow model. The school day is also very structured which makes him feel more secure - together with increasing maturity.

the other thing he's managed this year which he'd never done before is a couple of sleepovers - he'd tried before but had to come home because he felt sick (and that was at a friend's house in the next road, where he'd been on a weekly basis for years ...) but this summer he's been on about 3 and I've not had to go and pick him up once

I hope your dd gets there too

geordieminx Mon 28-Sep-09 21:40:13

Do you think something like Bachs rescue remedy would help her a bit?

thaliablogs Tue 29-Sep-09 13:06:21

Sounds a lot like me as a 9 year old. I was being bullied, as someone else mentioned - is that worth looking into? No one ever believed me, including my parents I think although they said they did. Anyway, eventually when I changed schools it stopped.

What helped the anxious behaviour was one session with a therapist, where I don't remember what he said, but I remember that I cried, and I got a lot less anxious after that although not completely cured eg of insomnia until my late teens.

The other thing that was going on for me was that I was bored at school, so acting out and getting in trouble. When I moved schools I started to be stretched academically and immediately got a lot happier - not sure if that's true for your DD.

Anyway, sounds like some good suggestions, I hope your DD starts to have an easier time soon.

hatwoman Tue 29-Sep-09 14:32:14

thanks thalia. dd doesn't sleep well actually - stays asleep once she's asleep iyswim but finds falling asleep difficult.

I've wondered about the academic thing too. she's definitely bright but, on the one hand, although I'm pretty sure she's not being challenged/stretched she's never behaved badly - in fact the opposite (if I'm allowed to say that!)- she's too shy to behave badly! her report last year was lovely - so I've never worried about "stretching" and all that stuff. although we did have a bit of a wobble at her new school when she kept saying that she hated being clever. I do wonder if she was getting teased - but we've not had repeat reports of that so perhaps the novelty of the new, shy, clever girl has worn off. and whilst I do think she's clever (she stunned her former head who didn;t really know her by coming top in some cognitive ability tests) I don;t think she's exceptionally so - not in the hard-core going to get teased for life for being a geek group.

but you've given me more to think about - perhaps my approach - that as long as she's not badly behaved / running wild out of boredom then we don't need to worry about her school work etc is wrong. even if it's not making her naughty, it might, perhaps, be contributing to making her a bit unhappy.

god it's hard being a kid. (and a parent). you just want them to know that everything will be ok. I don't think I'm particularly sussed or wise but I somehow want to instantly transfer to her all my stored up experience about the way of the world to make it easier for her to navigate.

PrettyCandles Tue 29-Sep-09 14:50:07

When my sister was about 7, she started having strange problems very similar to your dd. We hadn't moved house, though had a slightly stressful home situation, which had been ongoing all her life (so she knew no different, IYSWIM). Tummy aches, mood swings, faddy eating despite being hungry, skinny. The GP said that she was school-phobic, because her symptoms were generally worse in the mornings. Mum did not accept this, as dsis was top of the class and had friends.

Eventually mum took her to a homeopath, who diagnosed severe food intolerances. Within a couple of weeks of identifying the problem foods and being on a trigger-free diet, dsis's tummy aches and mood swings had disappeared completely. She started putting on weight again, and becamse a much happier person.

We had had no idea that food might be to blame. Admittedly in the 80s people weren't as aware of intolerances - the GP denied such a thing existed when mum went back to him with the homeopath's diagnosis.

Could this be at all something that might be happening to your dd? (Though, TBH, I think that it may be the stress of moving. It took ds1 over a year to get used to a new school and new life when we moved.)

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