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DC's major school related anxiety is beginning to force my hand [sad]

(42 Posts)
VocationalGoat Thu 05-Nov-15 12:43:19

I've attempted to ask about changing schools once before but sort of let the thread die because it wasn't really the right approach.

So our DC1 went to a gorgeous primary school... one of those "If you're kid isn't happy here, he/she won't be happy anywhere" type of schools. We've been there as a family for years.
DC2 is in year 1 and since reception she has just about cried every day. It's just not going away. She gets stomach pain on the way to school. She stiffens up and won't cross over the threshold of the school gates. She doesn't get any special treatment for this, so I think this is beyond 'milking it' for attention. There are no concessions here. Some days she's sort of ok-ish and goes through the gate. But mostly it is just an effort and a half. She gets dressed in the morning, brushes her teeth, etc. She is not a resistant child by nature in the least (my eldest was and would refuse to put on his uniform if he just didn't feel like school, but this is not that). She's very self-driven, gets up, gets ready...but then as the time to leave approaches, she gets sad and teary and tells me she really doesn't want to go to school and she has her reasons why but they are all anxiety based. I don't think she can pinpoint or articulate her fears/worries in an adult manner.

After school she is fine and when we come home everything is great. She's her happy self. But before bed, she will ask if she has to go to school and explain that she doesn't want to. She's scared of certain staff members and is really relieved when certain kids are off sick from school.

I have talked to the teacher who waited until parents evening to approach the issue. It was difficult to nip it all in the bud in 10 minutes but her only solution was to have our DD tested for a food colouring allergy. confused I had no words really after that because our DD is almost too quiet in class and doesn't display the behaviour that goes in tandem with kids who are sensitive to food colouring. On top of that, artificial colouring is such a minuscule, almost non-existent part of DD's diet. I don;t know what to make of this advice really. Maybe I am being too judgmental.

Would you move a child from a school based on an anxiety that isn't resolving itself or being supported? I just can't see the forest for the trees. Any insight is so appreciated. Thank you!

SimLondon Thu 05-Nov-15 12:47:12

erm she's cried and been scared of school almost every day for over a year and yet you've had just one ten-minute conversation with the teacher? sounds like she's being bullied and I think you need to talk to her teacher today about getting this resolved or moving her.

Pobspits Thu 05-Nov-15 12:49:51

Go see the head. Today.

teacherwith2kids Thu 05-Nov-15 12:50:14

Yes. But be careful what you move her to. Is HE a possibility, at least for a short time of 'mending', because bouncing her into another school without time to 'get better' may not achieve what you want?

DS - just been talking about it on another thread - was extremely anxious in his first school (misdiagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, symptoms included selective mutism). It was a nice little village school, but his immediate environment in terms of peer group + teacher just didn't work for him.

HEd for the second half of Year 1. Moved house, and into a new carefully-researched school - on paper, much less 'sweet and nice', but critically it had a significant peer group of able children, and a head who was the first adult DS spoke to outside the home in months.

HE led to a step change in DS's speech and the 'direct' symptoms of anxietym, but I would say that the impact of that early anxiety was still visible until well into Year 5.

Loveleopardprint Thu 05-Nov-15 12:50:33

Does she have another adult/sensible teen in her life that can speak to her about why she is afraid? She might open up to somebody different.
A good book to get is "what to do when you worry too much". Available on Amazon. That helped my nervous dd.

Good luck. It is heartbreaking when you can't find a solution. I would talk to the teacher again though.

teacherwith2kids Thu 05-Nov-15 12:52:59

I would say that talking to the head and teacher is OK, BUT they almost certainly can't change the make-up of the class, nor change the nature of the adults in school - we had endless meetings with teacher, head and SENCo, but ultimately only a complete change of school and peer group was the answer.

VocationalGoat Thu 05-Nov-15 13:04:14

Thanks so much for your swift replies. I've been reluctant to speak with the Head because we met with her last year and her response was, "I stand back and leave it to my teachers to decide the best course of action." She then brought in DD's reception teacher who spoke with us, with the Head present and the upshot of that meeting was to teach our daughter to "Turn that frown upside down" and to use all sorts of little encouraging phrases... which didn't work, no matter how hard we tried. sad
The Head stands at the school gate and sees me coming in with DD crying. She gives me a smile and a nod, so she must notice my plight is still ongoing. I am being passive, I know. But without wanting to bore you, the reception teacher was quite unsupportive in the end. After that one meeting, she just wouldn't talk about the issue at all. I felt unable to approach her. Every time I think of talking with the Head, I sort of deflate because between last year's approach and my current meeting with the year 1 teacher, I feel like we're just not on the same page.
Maybe I'm being weak.

VocationalGoat Thu 05-Nov-15 13:05:03

Oh I had posted after reading two posts... more have come in, so I will read those. Sorry if I come across as 'ignoring' the later posts.

MrsBalustradeLanyard Thu 05-Nov-15 13:08:17

Good god, they sound unsupportive as hell and a little bit bonkers. This can't continue. I would make a move for your daughter's sake.

Floggingmolly Thu 05-Nov-15 13:08:50

Her relief at certain children's absence suggests she's being bullied.

teacherwith2kids Thu 05-Nov-15 13:12:03

Flogging. Possibly, or possibly that those children behave generally in a way that makes her 'uncomfortable', even when it isn't directed specifically at her IYSWIM? DS loved it when 'the naughty' children' were away 'because then Mrs X doesn't use her scary voice and she has time to come and talk to my table'. The children didn't bully him,. but they made the classroom environment, indirectly, one in which he felt uncomfortable.

Beebar Thu 05-Nov-15 13:15:49

This sounds like PDD-NOS. I don't think the school have dealt with this badly, but perhaps they should have recommended your DD be assessed by a child psychologist.

Are you sure she's not being bullied - by a fellow pupil or a teacher ?

teacherwith2kids Thu 05-Nov-15 13:19:23

Beebar, if it was PDD-NOS, why would it ONLY manifest itself in school, and be better when some children were away?

Beebar Thu 05-Nov-15 13:19:32

My first guess is she's being bullied, but I assume you've looked into that. Does your DD understand how to recognise bullying behaviour? Has she perhaps been singled out because of her anxiety and that has ten folded it?

Beebar Thu 05-Nov-15 13:22:22

Teacher, from what I understand pdd-nos is mild autism. So it could be possible that autistic traits are going unnoticed at home?

Anyway, sounds more like there is bullying going on.

DobbinsVeil Thu 05-Nov-15 13:28:42

I moved my DC when they were in yr2 and yr1 and only regretted not doing so sooner. Fear of a worse environment was what held me back but in the end the environment was becoming so damaging to both of them I felt almost complicit leaving them there.

I would also say the head of the first school was incredibly off-hand and dismissive and this seemed to set the tone for the school as a whole. There was 1 brilliant teacher but the setup meant she couldn't make any real changes as there was no support higher up the chain.

Have you been to any other schools? Might be worth contacting your local parent partnership to see if you can access any outside help for your DD without going via school.

Good luck I hope things improve for your Dd soon.

Toffeelatteplease Thu 05-Nov-15 13:31:59

Your school sounds awful!! Your poor DD!!

Yes change immediately!

DobbinsVeil Thu 05-Nov-15 13:34:44

I should also add that my DS1 had a statement to start reception for 25hrs support a week and yet he was still relentlessly bullied and he was even locked out once(!).

Toffeelatteplease Thu 05-Nov-15 13:37:09

If the head at DCs school saw a child crying she would be over like a shot to try help.

Then she would quietly pull parent aside ask what was wrong and what they could do to help.

The ethos of your DDs the school is all hortifically wrong. It takes a community to raise a child.

I too would think your DD was being bullied. Given your heads response last year. I would have no faith in them being able to handle it

VocationalGoat Thu 05-Nov-15 13:38:27

Beebar is PDD-NOS Autism? Interesting. I'd be interested in your insight. Are you a parent of an Autistic child with this experience?
There is a child at the school who is obsessed with DD and it's pretty dysfunctional. But I sort of thought it would right itself as they got older. I've seen it with DC1 where unhealthy friendships sort of fade away as new friendships are formed. Childhood friendships tend to be a bit of a movable feast for the most part. But this one is sticking, though it's not really a friendship. I'd call it more stalking! The child's mother is always texting me, apologising for her daughter's full-on behaviour. She's very domineering with DD and this has been noted at school, but nothing has been done to help separate this girl and encourage her to mix with other kids. No matter how hard DD tries to play away from this girl, the girl takes her over and totally dominates, constantly threatening to tell on her if she doesn't play with her. She's not a horrid little girl, just odd, very odd and very controlling. And DD just doesn't have a voice anymore. She literally cannot say 'no' to this girl and keeps asking me if the girl's family will be moving away soon. confused But it's more than just this one girl. It's a whole vague feeling... which she can't explain well. And I think it's just as teacherwith2kids said... an environmental thing where the feeling, the vibe from the kids is a bit 'off'. I don't know.

caravanista13 Thu 05-Nov-15 13:44:25

The other child's behaviour is not acceptable - even if it isn't meant to be hurtful it's still a sort of bullying. The school have a duty to support and protect your DD and if they can't/won't then I would definitely move her.

Toffeelatteplease Thu 05-Nov-15 13:50:31

I'm not surprised the vibe of the school is off given the head

wigglybeezer Thu 05-Nov-15 14:01:36

There's your answer OP, Having to put up with being domineered is enough to give a small child anxiety about school. You need to get a bit more proactive with the teacher and head teacher, I now this is uncomfortable to do if you are a non-confrontational type but you need to be a squeaky wheel about it.

Screaminlikeabanshee Thu 05-Nov-15 14:02:25

But OP with your last post, therein lies a big part of the answer! she's not just anxious for nothing, she is being dominated against her will, she is dreaming in of said child moving away, the head is unsupportive, the teacher is uninterested. Frankly i don't know how you've come to the conclusion, "this is a gorgeous school!", confused.

Screaminlikeabanshee Thu 05-Nov-15 14:03:16

crosspost with wiggly. Absolutely.

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