Anxious and stressed 11 year old son - anyone got advice as I'm struggling(36 Posts)
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?
Sometimes shouting at them, when usually you are able to keep a calm face on things, can be beneficial. It can help them see how it is affecting you and your emotions. A little like a slap around the face for hysterics.
And sometimes it can remind them that you are an actual person and not just their kicking board.
Thanks for the replies, it's good to hear other experiences and advice
School have been good but they seem a bit stumped as what to do for the best, they asked for permission to talk to the doc we are seeing so we can all work together on helping ds. They seem to want to push him a little, not letting him miss some lessons as he was allowed to a few weeks ago - probably for the best but ds is finding it tough going of course. We meet a support teacher every morning instead of ds going to registration and she eases him into school and off to his first lesson. Plenty of good will at the school to help but not sure they know quite how to at the moment.
Home schooling would be a last resort really, I work from home full time so could not pay the bills and be able to teach my son - plus not sure I would do a very good job of it ;)
I've only just seen your thread.
If you DS threatens Suicide of self-harm again, I would just take him to A and E for an assessment (especially if it seems at all serious).
Do you have regular contact with the school? Is your main point of contact the SENCO or the head of year? Do keep updating them on what is going on, it is very easy if you don't contact for a while for them to think things are getting better.
My dd was very anxious around the transition to secondary school and she found year 7 very stressful and got anxious about just about everything. I have no real words of wisdom to add, you are obviously doing all you can to help your ds. I just wanted you to know that I too have been there - my dd is now in year 10 and while she still has her moments things are much, much better.
I'm sorry, red, I remember how hard it was with my son when he was like this about school. It is unbelievably stressful and upsetting for both of you. Don't blame yourself for yelling at him this morning or for making him explain to the other boys why they were going to be late. You were pushed to the limit and it's no bad thing for your son to see how his behaviour affects other people.
We have used the impact of my son's behaviour on others as an incentive to help him overcome his fears sometimes and I don't think that's wrong. He was invited out to a meal in a restaurant with his friends once and panicked at the last minute and wouldn't go. He had made a commitment to meet one of the boys at the station first and we couldn't contact the boy to tell him my son wouldn't come, so we insisted he go for the boy's sake. He did go, had a wonderful time and came home full of pride that he'd done it.
Are you receiving any support from the school now? They should be providing your son with reassurance and praise each time he goes in.
I didn't mention it before, but we eventually took my son out of school because it was too stressful for him. We tried everything first - CBT, medication, etc - but in the end it was so awful for all of us that we deregistered him and I now home educate. I'm not saying this is what you should do (possibly it's not what you would want at all), but it is an option if you feel a period without stress is what you all need.
Had a difficult morning with DH, he was very anxious and angry this morning and everything was a battle, from getting changed, having breakfast, getting coat on, getting him to actually get in the car...
I try and keep calm and understanding (which really, really I am, I can see how much he is hurting) but it is so tough and I am finding this so very hard. I lost my patience this morning and yelled at him because he just point blank refused to get in the car and I had three other boys waiting inside wanting to go to school - it was -2 and I was dreading the icy roads...only came out the house when I threatened to get the other boys out and bring them to him so he could explain why we were going to be late. Don't feel good about that but nothing else was going to work...
The doc we have started seeing says I am doing all the right things but it just feels like I am putting him through torture making him go to school when he is feeling so distressed and it breaks my heart each day. He is too young at 11 to have to go through all this and I wish I could take it all for him instead.
Seeing doc again on Saturday, DH like him and is open talking to him about everything so it has been a good start. Counting the days down to the Christmas holidays so we can all have a break from the constant stress - only a couple of weeks but give us a chance to recharge our batteries.
I would also recommend trying Bach Flower remedies. You can get fairly easy to read books in Health Food shops or try googling an online recommendation. The best thing would be to find someone who can advise you but it is fairly easy choose remedies yourself. They are recommended for difficult times in life, times of transition etc and work well with children. I've used them with a very anxious 4 year old, child with crippling fear of bugs, myself on numerous occasions and the whole family when we moved house.
I know and, to be honest, it still troubles me, but DS can't even go out of the house without it atm. I agree that you should try CBT first, although, if the anxiety is really bad, the two can work together. I'm glad you have a doctor that you like and trust, although I'm still angry on your behalf that you are having to pay.
The idea of medication seems so scary, I am not against the use at all but just seems such a worry when they are so young and their minds still developing. The private doc we saw said he didn't think it was needed with DS and from our first visit that CBT would be really useful from what we and DS were telling him. Good to know there are different alternatives though if this doesn't work. Took prozac myself after a bout of postnatal depression so know it works...
That's really brave of your DS to go into school today. It's lovely that you are rewarding him for his efforts, op. And what a caring older brother he has too.
I'm disgusted by your GP's response. I suppose waiting lists vary (ours was three months), but we were given an emergency referral to CAMHS when things escalated with DS1 and seen within a couple of days.
fortyplus's post reminded me that DS1 was given Prozac when his anxiety went out of control, although that was also to alleviate his OCD. I do know of other DC who have taken it and found it very helpful. I held out against medication for a long time, but in the end it seemed cruel not to give DS something that would help his suffering (which it did).
I do understand how exhausting and upsetting this is for you. Look after yourself too.
Thanks for all the messages and support xx
My son got anxious before he went on the school trip earlier this year - it seemed to be the idea of being away without contact for 5 days and that the week was full of physical challenges and activities (he hates sports!) I think this is a general anxiety he has which surfaces at times of high stress for him, such as the school trip, changing schools and it has grown to be around more often than not now even if there no longer seems an obvious reason.
GP was unhelpful and said waiting list for help on NHS was 8 months plus so we are going private (bloomin' expensive!) not about to start at fight to get the help on NHS as DS needs help right now.
I do think DS needs to talk through his feelings about me and his dad splitting up and my illness - sure these have had an effect on his anxiety - hoping this private doc will help now with some CBT, we see him again on Saturday.
Got DS to school by 9 today, an improvement on the 10.30 - 11 we have had in last few days. He was stressed and begging not to go but calmer than last few days. I have started a reward for every time he fights through the anxiety to do something and he is responding to the idea that we recognise the effort he is putting in rather than punishing him or getting angry when he is refusing to do something. Trying to stay firm, consistent, positive and finding lots of fun things to do during the evenings to balance up the bad moments of the days! Oldest DS is being lovely, very caring towards his brother and being understanding about the chaos this is sometimes bringing. Oh my goodness these are difficult days though.
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.
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.
Do you think something happened while he went away? Seems to have triggered his anxiety. Did he discuss the trip with you?
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
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.
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.
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Yes, you must call dr about threats to kill himself if you haven't done so.
<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>
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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