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My anxious son - how to help?

(26 Posts)
redapple Tue 18-Sep-07 10:54:49

My 8yr ds1 is just a bundle of anxiety, a professional worrier. Unfortunately it's in the genes as I was a terribly anxious kid and my exDH is a worrier too so the poor little chap didn't have a chance.

As a young child, professionals suggested he was autistic, his language was poor and he lacked social skills, often withdrawing to be by himself. As time has gone on is seems more likely that he had a speech disorder and severe anxiety.

His speech is still a little disordered at times but it has been a real pleasure to see him blossom and grow in confidence. He copes more than well at school now, goes to cubs, has a great friendship with DS2 and is generally quite a happy, if anxious, child.

However, he still gets upset very, very easily and gets himself worked up in to a state about things. He is quite controlling, it makes him feel safe if he can know whats coming, and comes across as bossy and argumentative within the family and painfully shy with everyone else. He finds making friends quite difficult but this has improved alot in the last year.

Last night he came back from a friends house in a right old state as he had seen a video game with some images that scared him. He worked himself up until he had a headache and was sick and he was still struggling this morning.

I just wish I could help him better. We talk things through and I've got him some books that helped a bit. Someone suggested I should get him some counselling to help him to cope. I can't decide whether to or not?

My exDH used cannabis as his 'coping mechanism' and it eventually screwed him up completely. I just wish I could give DS the tools to manage his anxiety. I just found my own ways of coping with my own anxiety and I have more or less conquered it but it was not until my 30's really.

Any other experiences, opionions, tips or advice very welcome!

orangina Tue 18-Sep-07 11:07:16

I'm so sorry to hear about your ds.... No real experience to draw from, but have you considered bach flower remedies or homeopathy? Flower remedies are fairly easy to self prescribe and are totally harmless. There's a link here that might help (scroll right to the end of the page/article for the section on children).
It really helped with my dd, who had become very challenging after arrival of her brother (combined with terrible 2 tantrums etc). It might just help? Really good luck!

orangina Tue 18-Sep-07 11:12:37

Oh, and by the way, if you are not sure whether a certain remedy is the right one, or there are a few remedies that seem to be relevant, you can use up to 4 at the same time. I bought 4 (and some rescue remedy) for dd, and we call them "magic drops". I would drop a single drop straight into her mouth, about 4 times a day while her behaviour was bad, but I must admit, I noticed an immediate improvement and was able to stop using them completely after a few days. Now it's mostly rescue remedy for over tiredness, tears etc.

1crazymumof2 Tue 18-Sep-07 11:19:01

Hi redapple, you say that he has language problems, has he had any help with improving his speech?

In terms of his anxieties have you tried letting him have a little box that he can post things into,i.e. writing down things that trouble him throughout the day, and then setting aside a time every day when you can go through and answer questions. He can then rip the paper up and throw it away in the bin.

My friend tried this with her son and he found it really cathartic and he could go to bed and let go of any troubles he had been carrying with hin throughout the day.

flamingtoaster Tue 18-Sep-07 11:19:45

I agree about Rescue Remedy - it works brilliantly. You could also try the relaxing breathing exercise - he should only do this four times in a row to begin with as you can get dizzy otherwise.

Put your tongue on the flat bit behind your front teeth. Close your mouth. Breath in for the count of four, hold your breath for the count of seven and then blow out gently through your mouth with a quiet wooshing sound for the count of eight. Sounds daft but it really does calm you down!

flamingtoaster Tue 18-Sep-07 11:20:56

I agree about Rescue Remedy - it works brilliantly. You could also try the relaxing breathing exercise - he should only do this four times in a row to begin with as you can get dizzy otherwise.

Put your tongue on the flat bit behind your front teeth. Close your mouth. Breath in for the count of four, hold your breath for the count of seven and then blow out gently through your mouth with a quiet wooshing sound for the count of eight. Sounds daft but it really does calm you down!

MaryAnnSingleton Tue 18-Sep-07 11:25:52

I like Rescue Remedy, not sure if it works, but I use it when I'm stressed and worried (and I could worry for Great Britain) and find solace in it. Haven't tried it on ds, but he is prone to anxiety. He discovered by himself the writing down worries thing but this got a bit out of hand as he got a bit obsessed by writing every single tjing down that went through his head. You might like to consider some junior yoga perhaps or even,though I suspect that 8 is too young, a bit of hypnotherapy to relax and calm him. Poor love, I do sympathise

MrsMarvel Tue 18-Sep-07 11:30:39

Family Therapy. Pay for it if you need to, but it looks like this will only get worse. There is no such thing as a gene for worrying, and worrying is not a symptom of autistic spectrum disorder, but can be a symptom of asd which is not being handled in an appropriate way.

Sorry to have to be so abrupt about this. sad

startouchedtrinity Tue 18-Sep-07 11:36:00

I'm an axious person too and I've just discovered the Buddhist/Taoist practise of mindfulness. Basically it means that we only have the now - the past has gone and the future hasn't happened. When your ds gets anxious he can practise mindfulness by really focussing on what he can see - for example he might look at how the sunlight is shining off cars going by. He can listen for sounds, and also think about his own body - can he feel his feet inside his shoes? is his chair hard? Does he feel hungry? This helps to ground you in the present moment. For yourself, get Ekhart Tolle's The Power of Now, Byron Katie's Loving What Is and anything by Thich Nhat Hanh, if you are interested about learning mindfulness and stopping anxious thoughts.

Practically it might be worth asking friends to censor what he watches, make sure he doesn't read a newspaper etc. I second Rescue Remedy and also lavender oil - smells a bit girly but does work - 2 drops on a tissue inside his pillowcase - Boots do a good one.


MaryAnnSingleton Tue 18-Sep-07 11:37:06

why do you suggest family therapy mrs m ?

startouchedtrinity Tue 18-Sep-07 11:39:44

When ds gets anxious, ask him if his anxious thoughts are true. Then ask if they can possibly be true. The answer is nearly always, no. The get him to see how much happier he feels when he stops believing his anxious thoughts.

Worth giving this a try tonight IMO.

MaryAnnSingleton Tue 18-Sep-07 11:44:18

mm, we do that with ds...

redapple Tue 18-Sep-07 12:31:58

Sorry Mrs.Marvel, can you expalain what you mean?

'worrying is not a symptom of autistic spectrum disorder, but can be a symptom of asd'

We realise that he maybe somewhere along the long line of the austistic spectrum, he always failed the tests for it though and the doctors ummed and ahhed about it.

...and why family therapy? OMG, has it all been my fault all along?!

As far as I know, there are different schools of thought regarding nature v nuture and I personally always imagine we are a product of a combination of both.

DS1 had had speach therapy which helped a great deal, the school have also been very supportive and help to build his confidence.

redapple Tue 18-Sep-07 12:41:05

Thanks for all the other suggestions, never heard of rescue remedy so I will look in to that...

startouchedtrinity Tue 18-Sep-07 12:55:01

redapple, a supportive school is such a benefit. And I agree about nature vs nurture, I see it in my own family.

MrsMarvel Tue 18-Sep-07 12:58:38

Sorry I didn't suggest family therapy because I think it is your fault - but if it's combined with cognitive behavioural therapy it may help deal with the of anxiety.

I suggested family therapy because I think it may be important to break the cycle of anxiety within your family and not just have the focus on ds.

MaryAnnSingleton Tue 18-Sep-07 13:34:31

yes, cbt is v good for anxiety and breaking the patterns of thought -I've had it.

redapple Tue 18-Sep-07 22:13:35

I have been thinking about trying to get some cbt or councelling for him, would i be able to get this on the nhs do you think ?

startouchedtrinity Tue 18-Sep-07 22:46:15

You can but ask. Also ask at the school, maybe they could give you a letter for your GP or know of another route.

MrsMarvel Wed 19-Sep-07 10:22:21

Redapple, hope you are well. I just wanted to add that perhaps cbt for yourself and your partner will be a good start. I often see children with these kinds of problem blaming themselves when the focus is put on them to change their behaviour. If you show you can change yours too then it will help him on many other levels.

redapple Wed 19-Sep-07 13:12:22

Thanks for your suggestions MrsMarvel. As I said in my original post, DH is now thankfully ex and whether he was to go for councelling is out of my influence. As I also said in my original post, I have learnt with age and experience to conquer my previous feelings of anxiety in my youth - I am often now described as very laid back (so there is hope for us all!)

Ds2 is the opposite of character to ds1, not anxious or a worrier in the least. I know you mean no offence but I don't like the always blame the parents angle so many people want to play. Of course parents can have a huge negative, and positive, effect on a child's development. However it is also the case that some of our children are just born with personalities or difficulties that are part of them as much as the colour of their hair. I see it as our job to try and equip them with the tools to cope and thrive.

MrsMarvel Thu 20-Sep-07 13:50:15

I'm sorry, you did ask for opinions, so I gave them. You also said that ds1 had to have speech and language and that the school helped him with his confidence. You also dismiss the problem as being genetic yet at the same time admitting that both you and dsd have anxiety problems, his resulting in drug use. Babies are not born anxious. We can have the nature/nurture/personality debate another time.

redapple Thu 20-Sep-07 16:34:56

Sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick here but I just felt all your replies implied that my family's behaviour caused DS1's difficulties. I have merely tried to explain why I don't think this may be the case.

Nature /nurture debate is more than relevant here because you think nuture caused DS1's difficulites ('no babies are born anxious', 'there are no worry genes') while I am suggesting maybe genes AND nurture do play a part (my childhood anxiety, exDH's anxiety so family history and DS2 not being anxious despite being brought up in same way as DS1) I was trying to explain why I thought your suggestion of family therapy was not neccessarily the only possible answer to the problem.

I posted this thread with the hope that someone may have similar experiences, have good ideas or tips that might give us a hand. I welcome opinions and constructive critism! Of course my exDH's behaviour may well have had an effect on DS1 and hey, maybe I'm kidding myself that I am no longer plagued by anxiety. Who knows?

lucyellensmum Thu 20-Sep-07 17:02:45

Redapple, i am sorry to hear about your son.

The nature/nurture argument is a tough one, speaking objectively and not in direct reference to you. I think, in my armchair psych mode lol, that our behaviour is often a result of both nature and nurture. Our genes may hardwire how we react to things, whilst what happens to us modifies it, if that makes any sense. I guess it can become a vicious circle if you are a worryer, you may well have past this on genetically, it has definately been proven that certain behaviour traits have genetic origins, so why wouldnt anxiety. Of course, as an anxious parent, you could pass it on in your own behaviouir. Im not commenting on your situation here, just saying how i see the whole nature nurture thing.

I have a friend who's chidlren are very anxious, as she is, they are clingy, worry themselves stupid over things and are lovely intelligent, happy children. My friend is lovely, wonderful mum, bloody neurotic but has been a lifesaver to me and all my neuroses.

I'm really torn about the counselling angle, obviously it may well be just what he needs, but it also flags up that he has a "problem" which isnt great for a 8 year old. I just think you should continue to love and support him and tell him that you understand his worries, try and look for ways to compartmentalise and rationalise them for him. It is all just part of growing up though im sure. Maybe it would be worth talking to the school head or his teacher about some strategies etc. They know your son and can give some good advice, if they are worth their jobs at least.

SOrry, this isnt much help, just wanted to add my support and say, dont beat yourself up over this, it is not your fault at all.

startouchedtrinity Thu 20-Sep-07 20:23:33

I agree with your assessment of Mrs. M's post, redapple, and I think you have stood yoru ground well. AFAIK genes are hardly understood and I can see the weirdest things in my family - like how my dad is the kindest, most generous man on earth (bit gullible really) yet his brother is a liar and a con artist who put his own kids into care. Same upbringing...I think nature counts for far more than we like to admit because we want to think we can fix everything. I have three dcs and can see the family genes in them, each one from a different part - it means I am (hopefully) aware of where I need to go carefully and where I need to build up.

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