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Can I pick your brains on anxiety issues in teens please?(15 Posts)
DD says she suffers from anxiety, in a big way. There are some things she says she just can't do, as the anxiety is too much. Its usually things that she doesn't want to do, so she plays the anxiety card.
We have been to CAMHS, etc etc, so its in hand so to speak.
I have looked into it at great length, and cant see any evidence that her anxiety is anything other than normal anxiety. The type you get when you visit the loo twenty times before a job interview for instance. It doesn't impede her day to day living.
Am I missing something, as I'm trying really hard to find evidence of her anxiety.
If someone could explain if there's something else I should be looking for I would be very grateful.
Firstly, believe her. She thinks her anxiety is way above normal, so it's true. Each of us has a level of anxiety above which we don't cope well
Second, she doesn't have to provide, nor should you look for, evidence
She is anxious about things she doesn't want to do. You didn't give her age but I wonder if this fits? The things she doesn't want to do have possibly been things she had to do because she was young, told what to do, compliant. Now she's older with choices, she gets the same feelings of dread, but she can choose not to do things that bring on the anxiety. Her reaction has not changed; her expression of anxiety has
I do believe that she is anxious but I am sceptical of the levels as I don't think she's being honest with me. That sounds terrible doesn't it!
Stupid question then. Could she suffer from anxiety and nobody know? I don't mean normal anxiety, I mean severe anxiety, like she says she does.
I have spoken to teachers, friends, colleagues, and professionals, and all of them say her anxiety would be normal as she presents as a confident and happy teen. She's 16.
How do I help then?
To look at ds you'd think there was nothing wrong with him as he comes across mostly as confident and outgoing
But he is struggling inside and will explode or withdraw when it all gets too much
She doesn't explode or withdraw. She only becomes moody when asked to do something she doesn't want to, like homework.
My dd could suffer from severe anxiety if I didn't work very hard at making sure her emotional needs are met. From the outside she is a pretty, confident, easy going, popular teenager. Inside she is a writing, anxious mess. This has been evident since she was a toddler. I see the anxiety mostly at night. She won't sleep in a room with the lights off, often sleeps with me and is up most nights with nightmares and terrors and talking in her sleep. And during the day she has panic attacks in the classes with difficult (my euphemism...most parents use the B word) teachers. To an outsider she's "trying it on" by saying she needs to go to the nurse. What's actually happening is she has great difficulty in breathing (from the panic attack), but because of her anxiety will say out loud how bad she is feeling. When she was younger she would just start crying hysterically and be that way for hours. It's been very very helpful to dd for me and the professionals around her to acknowledge the validity of her emotions and to work with her on tools to help self soothe. I think that just validating her feelings is in itself a great soother.
Having said all of that, it's actually helpful to set boundaries. Your dd still needs to get her things done whether or not she likes them, but may need help from you setting up systems. Point out to your dd that certain actions can make her anxiety worse (leaving difficult homework or other things she doesn't like to to do, to last). Perhaps you can validate that the tasks make her anxious and remind her that that doesn't mean that they can or should be avoided. Perhaps work through a process with her on how to try a different approach to doing them. I know it sounds simplistic, but some people just can't work through things like that. I have finally convinced my dd to do her math homework as soon as it is assigned, instead of putting it off to last because the teacher is mean to her. She gets it done much more quickly because she hasn't worked herself into a state and that in itself soothes her. These are all tools that your dd will need when she goes off into the real world without you.
Ugh....wish Mumsnet would let you correct. Please note corrections to above:
writing should be writhing
"will say outloud" should be won't say outloud
definitely possible to suffer from anxiety and no one to know, its your thoughts so unless she expresses it how else would you know?
i have anxiety but I don't think anyone would guess it, unless they could read my mind
oh and when i was a teenager my anxiety definitely came across as just not wanting to do something, e.g i would get really anxious about classwork or homework if it was anything other than maths or science, basically anything involving words, because i was so embarrassed that the way i worded things was weird so i would just get in a strop and refuse to do it, teachers/parents etc probably figured i just couldn;t be bothered
Thanks for taking the time to reply. How difficult for you Sofia. Glad you have found ways to help.
My dd displays none of those symptoms. No anxiety whatsoever is evident which is why I am struggling. No terrors or panic attacks or sleep problems. No problems with school, only that she would rather talk to her boyfriend than revise or do homework. No stress over school work, she admits she can't be bothered.
She never, ever mentions anxiety unless I have asked something of her. Then anxiety becomes the reason I can't make her do it.
I really am trying to help.
Sometimes it's helpful to validate a teenagers feelings even if they are unreasonable in your eyes. Have you tried helping her set up a plan and boundaries rather than dictating them yourself. And let her fail occasionally so she learns the consequences (Please note that this does not work with all children....never worked with either of mine!)
Maybe suggest some little goals, like "work for half an hour and then talk to your boyfriend for an hour and then go back to do another half an hour of work." Also I have found that having my dc's go online to the school calendar every friday and sunday nights (pick a specific day and stick to it) and write down all their assignments, due dates AND how much time they think it will take AND a schedule to do the work. (We are in the USA, so most assignments and some textbooks are online and they both are taking 7 subjects each, so this can be complicated.) Maybe give a little guidance on how much time something will take and whether they've allocated an appropriate schedule (ie Gently point out that maybe planning to finish the homework in the bus on the way to the gig with their friends may not be realistic.) And then let them make the mistake of misallocating time/schedule or not sticking to what they've chosen and don't say I told you so, but rather a gentle suggestion the next week that a little more time might give more successful results than the previous week.
This doesn't work on all kids, but it seems to be effective on my two who aren't reward/punishment driven.
Just to explain....you are validating your dd's desire to talk to her boyfriend instead of doing homework.....it's not an unreasonable desire and we've all experienced it at some point in time. But at the same time you are also giving her tools to get the chores done too and not giving her permission to just follow her desires without any responsibilities.
Thank you for the clarification.
She may not be bothered about doing school work, but we do have a system in place and it does work.
None of this causes her anxiety though, apathy is the problem!
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