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Anxious and stressed 11 year old son - anyone got advice as I'm struggling

(36 Posts)
redandblack Fri 23-Nov-12 11:03:16


My son has always been a sensitive lad but this last year he has got increasingly anxious and it has swollen into a huge problem right now. He says he just wants to be with me and anytime away from me he feels awful - it seemed to start around the time he went away with his primary school for a weeks holiday at the beginning of the year. Then senior school came and that has thrown him all over the place.

On the surface it has all gone well, he likes most of the teachers, has made some really good new friends as well as still being with firm long time friends from his last school. He has been put in the top set for all subjects and gets good marks for his work and he has enjoyed joining a couple of after school clubs. He swears blind there is no problem as such at school, no problem with other kids, no problem with teachers or work.

Every morning he is shaking with nerves, he says school makes him feel awful, he wants to die and he refuses to go. I have to be really firm and after much effort I get him up there - the school have been very supportive and given us lots of help. They let him go to a pupil services room at the start of the day and ease him into some lessons that he feels he can manage. It just seems to be getting worse and worse as the weeks go on despite trying lots of different ideas to try and talk through his fears, get him books to help and relaxation tapes etc etc. Each evening he starts stressing about the next day and we just seem to be going round and round in circles.

I asked for help and councelling through the GP (I think talking therapies like CBT can really work) but the waiting list was 8 months to be seen, the school councellor is fully booked right now and they have no funding for another one...given up and gone private despite struggling to find the money - what's money though compared to my son's peace of mind? I went through the doctor and have appointment with a phychologist on Saturday morning. Fingers crossed.

Hoping he will now get some intensive help to get him through this rotten time but has anyone got any brilliant tips that worked for them or just some reassurance that their kid got some help and managed to beat this rotten anxiety?

redandblack Fri 23-Nov-12 12:24:43

sad nobody got any ideas of word of advice? Would really appreciate anything you can suggest...

fortyplus Fri 23-Nov-12 12:26:30

My son was like this - (apart from the part about being in top sets for everything!! grin ) Hang on a min and I'll write something

BlissfullyIgnorant Fri 23-Nov-12 12:31:18

Might be worth trying some simple breathing exercises. Sorry to hear he's struggling and suffering - it's really awful.

DD was like that for all of nursery and all of pre prep and prep (it's a lot of years) but at senior school she's really much better and I'm hoping its a permanent shift. She can't manage with overpowering personalities and doesn't do well in a class with boys but now at a girls school which is probably a major factor. She's also dyslexic. Most people think its a reading thing but it's much wider ranging than that and school phobia is a symptom.

This, too, will pass.

fortyplus Fri 23-Nov-12 12:33:54

Yep - separation anxiety. We had throwing up every morning. And just like yours, when I actually asked him about his day he was happy - it was just leaving me and home that presented a problem.

I spoke to the school nurse and she taught him to use visualisation tecniques. He has to imagine a scene where he feels happy and relaxed. For my son it was a garden but it could be anywhere - wouldn't matter if it was Mc Donald's!! He has to be able to paint a picture in his head in minute detail. He should do this at a time when he's calm and confident - eg with you in the evening. Then when he's feeling stressed and anxious he can recall the mental picture and associate it with how calm it makes him feel.

One suggestion I also had was that he could imagine himself sitting in a cinema watching his favourite film and imagine getting closer and closer to the screen - even stepping into the film.

All this worked well for my son - he's 19 now and a confident, outgoing lad. He's developed a sporting interest and competes in a GB team despite not being sporty at school.

Good luck with your son - there is hope - he just needs to know that his feelings are real, valid and nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is to develop strategies for dealing with them smile

missnevermind Fri 23-Nov-12 12:39:36

Mine is the same. Same age and everything. Though your DS seems to be having more trouble settling.

Terrible thing to say out loud, but DS's anxiety cause him to be knocked down by a car last month, which bought it more to the attention of the school than any of my wittering on could have done and the school have sat up and started to take notice.

He has now been put in nurture groups and one to one sessions to help him with strategies. I have had several conversations with the Senco team. All sorts of good stuff.
A small thing that has made a big difference to him. He has been given a 'Get out of Jail free Card' grin If he is feeling especially anxious he can show it to the teacher and be able to leave the room, not even having to speak, ask permission or explain himself. It is mostly used to leave class early to ensure he gets to the next lesson on time without having to negotiate the scrum.

FaultLines Fri 23-Nov-12 14:01:39

How awful for you. I'm not really qualified to comment on how to deal with this - but just wanted to offer some support. My DC has some anxieties of this kind, but not to the same extent at all. I hope the psychologist can help x

redandblack Fri 23-Nov-12 20:47:34

Thank you for all these replies smile

Sorry to hear your kids having/had rough times too - fortyplus thank you for telling me your son is a happy young adult now, keeps me confident this is just a blip and my son will work his way through this. Sometimes when you are in the middle of it it is hard to believe everything is going to be fine!

Some great ideas too of things he can do to help cope when the anxiety strikes, love the idea of a get out of jail card - will suggest that to the school.

My son went in this morning in a right old mess, shaking and crying, begging me not to leave him. When I picked him up he had made it to half the lessons and walked out smiling and chatting with friends. Just keep going one day at a time I guess. xx

redandblack Mon 26-Nov-12 10:28:27

We went to see the private doctor who was very nice, my son liked him and was very open about talking about what all the problems are for him. It was just an assessment appointment so not much has been put in place yet, he suggested my son starts a diary of how he is feeling day to day and to make a worry box - he has to write down what it is every time he has a worry and then put it in the box (we bring the box to the next meeting for the doc to go through with him) We also tried doing a relaxation technique which my son managed well and he agreed it helped him feel calm.

Had a good weekend together then a huge melt down this morning. He refused to go to school so we had a stand off - he got really mad with me and said I was doing all these things that made him feel awful and it wasn't working and he wasn't going to try any more. He said he was going to kill himself now - he has threaten this before and it goes through me like a knife when he says that. Is he just trying to be dramatic to force me to keep him at home? I just don't know, hate, hate, hate it when he starts talking like that.

I insisted he went, even though every bone in my body just wanted to wrap my arms round him and let him stay here to take away the anxiety. I know it's the right thing to make him go and to be firm so that he can get through this rather than avoiding it all the time but it's tough.

He spent the journey there telling me he hated me and he wanted to kill himself - I've just got back and wish it was late enough in the day to be allowed a stiff drink. Phew.

monkeynuts123 Mon 26-Nov-12 20:07:41

Is there any reason he could be worried about you?

redandblack Mon 26-Nov-12 23:25:58

It has crossed my mind. I was poorly for almost three years, needed stick to walk, vision problems, unable to drive and was misdiagnosed by hospital meaning a long delay/battle for treatment. Had op end of last year and overnight fixed which was wonderful - wonder though how much this took a toll on both DS as it was difficult time. Thought my new found health meant happy days for us all but maybe the stress had more affect on DS than I ever realised and it is coming out now...

beachyhead Mon 26-Nov-12 23:30:36

Would you consider a homeopath? My son, who is also 11, suffers stress related IBS and the visits, chats and homeopathic medicines were really beneficial.

Just a thought.

redandblack Mon 26-Nov-12 23:44:25

I'm up for trying anything right now! I will look into it more in the morning and see if I can find anyone locally to see what they can offer - thank you for the suggestion xx

ToffeeWhirl Mon 26-Nov-12 23:54:23

So sorry you and your DS are going through this. My DS1 suffers huge anxiety issues and couldn't cope with school (I have done that awful walk to school with a frantic child that you describe) so I sympathise. It does sound as if your son is still worrying about you. Maybe he worried about you when he was away on that trip and couldn't be with you and now it has triggered this? And secondary school is a huge and stressful change - I know several children who have really struggled with the adjustment.

I read this to my son. It's very sensible. He also listened to relaxation CDs, but they were from something called The Linden Method, which is pricey. Any good relaxation CD should do.

Borrowing a neighbour's dog really helped to calm my DS down and we ended up looking after someone's dog over the summer holidays, which DS loved. The dog had a fantastically calming effect on him. We are now planning to get our own dog.

CBT should be the first thing he is offered through his GP. I'm really shocked that you haven't received any help with this. It's not fair that you've had to pay. However, the private doctor sounds good and if your son likes him that's half the battle.

I agree with the 'get out of jail' card. My son didn't get that - I asked for it - but, actually, his anxiety was so well known by the staff that he was allowed to leave the class whenever he needed to. He had a staff member that he would go and sit with whenever he became too upset to stay in the classroom (usually every day). You really do need support from the school with this.

I'm shocked that you are not getting support from CAMHS, by the way. We had help from them and from an Education Outreach Worker. If a child is at risk of not going to school, usually they all jump to attention.

I hope things get easier for you both soon.

Toomanyworriedsonhere Mon 26-Nov-12 23:55:48

My DD is having exactly the same problems and even similar drama this morning. Have you told medical people about him saying he wants to kill himself? They have taken this very seriously when my DD has expressed the same thing.

She also has an 'exit' card at school, which is helping a bit, but still pretty desperate at bedtime tonight. I have given her a 'get out of jail card' to be used once in the rest of this term to just have a day at home with no questions asked. I'll let you know how this goes.

One of our issues is also the intrusion of school life into her leisure time so I'm also limiting the time spent on homework. If she starts to get overwhelmed we put it away and I send a note to school.

The CAMHS psychiatrist has put her down for a CBT course which should help with the anxiety.

I have to say it seems pretty hopeless to me, too, so it's good to hear about older DCs who have come through it.

Good luck - it's very tough as a parent, isn't it? Unmnetty hug!

madwomanintheattic Tue 27-Nov-12 00:17:04

You need to call the gp again tomorrow and discuss the suicide threats. Insist he makes an emergency referral to camhs. It keeps ds on the gp radar.

Ds1 is almost 11 and sees a psych monthly at the mo. He is similar temperament, but his anxieties and phobias come out differently and aren't attendance based. Having a third party to discuss with has made a huge difference.

madwomanintheattic Tue 27-Nov-12 00:18:14

<and you also need to call the school, and speak directly to the ht or counsellor, and explain that he is making suicide threats. I don't care how busy their caseload is, the child is a priority, whether it is bluster or not>

Toomanyworriedsonhere Tue 27-Nov-12 00:21:58

Yes, you must call dr about threats to kill himself if you haven't done so.

sarah341 Tue 27-Nov-12 08:02:41

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

exoticfruits Tue 27-Nov-12 08:15:21

I think that you do need to contact the school and the GP again as a matter of priority. I would say that it is based on past anxieties about you and can be worked through but needs outside help.

awaywiththepixies Tue 27-Nov-12 18:51:13

Have you tried eft? It's non invasive and we have found it works remarkably for various problems including anxiety. We followed a practitioner called Brad Yates on YouTube or you can obviously get something made specifically for your son if you go to a practitioner. Good luck.

fortyplus Wed 28-Nov-12 08:20:07

sad redandblack so sorry that this has escalated. Have you been to your GP yet? I do have one friend whose son's anxiety and OCD became extreme. He was taken out of the school environment and given drugs to help him feel calmer, then gradually reintroduced to school and allocated a TA one to one. No one wants their child to have to take drugs but it worked wonders - do please get professional help x

SpoonyFuckersWife Wed 28-Nov-12 08:23:22

Do you think something happened while he went away? Seems to have triggered his anxiety. Did he discuss the trip with you?

cornycarrotshack Wed 28-Nov-12 08:25:32

OP you can ask your GP to refer you to CAMHS if you haven't already done so.

Young minds is a really good website - they also have a section for children which ds could read through.

If you phone them they can phone you back and do a confidential consultation.

Pourquoimoi Wed 28-Nov-12 08:37:02

Sorry can't help much as whilst we have had anxiety issues with DS (also 11), they are not in the same level as your son.

I can second re book that toffeewhirl suggested though, we have used that and found it useful.

I also wonder if he really believes you are now better and if he deep down thinks you are still ill?

Good luck with it all.

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