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13 yo DS nervous about going on trip. Any tips?

(19 Posts)
ChipsWithEverything Tue 24-May-16 23:05:17

Anyone else had a nervous boy going on an overnight trip with school? He's usually confident but he can't get over the idea he's about to be away from home for 2 nights. There's been a big build up, and I was hoping his anxiety would improve over time. He's gone away before, obviously. A few years ago he was absolutely fine, more recently it's become a huge obstacle, to the point now that he is sure he can't go. He moved to secondary school this year and has not really made any close friends yet so that is possibly a big problem for him. I'm trying to chat through him regarding the benefits.. If he gave it a go, he would build his confidence, enjoy himself etc..

I am open to any tips out there from anyone else who has had this. Even some hand holding would help (!) Every other parent I've spoken to regarding the trip says their DCs are really excited about going.

OP’s posts: |
HappyJanuary Thu 26-May-16 07:55:38

Have you spoken to the school? They can make things easier for your son by making sure he's sharing a room with someone kind and sympathetic, and by making sure he knows that he can talk to an adult about any concerns.

At home, I would not allow any suggestion of not going. If he thinks you are open to him dropping out then that will become his number one focus. Talk in terms of it definitely happening, you need to listen but not pander IMO if you don't want it to happen again and again.

Once he realises it's non-negotiable he'll focus on the trip, coping strategies, the elements he might enjoy.

Chances are he'll enjoy himself and next time will be easier. If he doesn't, you can praise his bravery and perseverance to the high heavens. Either way more character building than 'if you're scared to do something, don't do it'.

emummy Thu 26-May-16 08:01:15

Dd recently had 4 night trip, last year of primary school. She was really stressed but keen to go. I got her to write a list of all her worries, big and small, and we went through them, talked about ways to deal with them. We talked about the teachers going, which ones she liked and could talk to if stressed. I wrote her a little note for each night to read at bedtime so she knew we were thinking of her. She enjoyed herself, had a few wobbles but made it through.
Good luck with your DS, I hope he goes and has fun

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Thu 26-May-16 08:02:06

Talk about it yourself in "won't it be great!" terms.

I'd be asking school though if anything is going on in terms of bullying tbh. It's odd if he has been away before, that at that age he is anxious about it.

My youngest students are that age, and if I'd heard that one was anxious about a trip involving an overnight stay I'd automatically (rightly or wrongly) think there was some nastiness of some sort going on.

If an anecdote helps- one of my girls is almost catatonically silent- recommendations by the school to the mother to maybe approach the authorities for an assessment are poo-poo'd away with the mother saying she's just "immature" and doesn't get on with anyone in the class. On the recent 3 day trip we were frankly gobsmacked that this girl even signed up (she is still escorted everywhere generally by mother, aunt and grandmother) but even more so by the fact that she had a ball, was sociable and joined in everything and seemed a completely different girl.

But yes, definitely ask school if they have noticed anything awry.

flowers for you.

ChipsWithEverything Thu 26-May-16 09:23:11

Thank you. Rushing off to work so can reply quickly now but will answer more later..

Briefly.. He started at secondary school in September and it was all very new to him. He didn't have any friends going to his new school and despite being a very sociable and popular boy in primary, he's really struggled to settle in his new environment, feels over looked and hasn't been able to make significant friends. I'm certain that it's this change that's making him feel this stressed rather than any bullying. I have spoken to the school prior to this and they kept an eye in case any bullying was happening. DS said everyone is really nice actually, but he just gets ignored. Possibly because he's a bit shy / anxious so doesn't interact as much as other children.

I'll speak to the school on my lunch break to talk about this particular trip. I really want him to go. It might be the making of him..

Thanks again for advice and anecdotes. It really helps.

OP’s posts: |
Northernparent68 Fri 27-May-16 19:00:55

I'd take a different tack, I would not make him if he does not want to go, for every tale of a school trip being the making of a child, there's a tale of a child hating the trip.

I think you should work on his confidence first and then the school trips will fall into place.

Wolfiefan Fri 27-May-16 19:09:14

I would ask him to list what he's anxious about and then work to counter each one.
Eg. Scared of sharing a room? Talk to Staff and try and get him in with a couple of nice ones!
Missing home? Take something to remind him?
Not knowing what they are doing? Get an itinerary.
New place? Look at pics and maybe talk to someone who has been already.

VenusRising Fri 27-May-16 19:23:01

I wouldn't make him go either.

Make sure he's having play dates/ mates over to hang out.

Does he do a sport? Encourage a team sport.

Plenty of time for trips away. It's not worth the anxiety.

Think about it, if you hated spiders, would being made have them crawl all over you without even a small introduction be sensible.

Just work on him building friendships with shared activities and sports.

ChipsWithEverything Fri 27-May-16 22:28:00

Very interesting. This has got me thinking.

He's not in to sports particularly, no. Especially doesn't like team sports, which is a shame. He doesn't feel good at them and so feels like he's letting down the team.

The main thing is to build his confidence. I'm going to set up some activities over the half term so he can have a few friends over.

I spoke to his teacher about it. He was great and supportive and that really helped. I got a few more details of the trip that I can now pass on to DS.

OP’s posts: |
SavoyCabbage Fri 27-May-16 22:41:06

I bet there will be kids in the school who he would be friends with, he just hasn't managed to meet them yet.

My dad started year seven in January, a term late and she didn't know anyone at all. I asked the school to think about who they would pair her up with in the first day. Rather than just picking anyone. They did a good job and she's settled in really quickly. Perhaps with this trip, you could use it as an opportunity for the school to try and match up some of the more reserved dc.

I think extra curricular stuff it's fantastic for boosting their confidence. There is so much they can do. My neighbours 12 year old plays those dungeon and dragon type card games with his friends at a comic shop every Saturday. My nephew does cartooning classes.

SpareCrust Sat 28-May-16 12:59:11

Sorry your ds is feeling anxious. Fwiw, I would encourage him and send him on the trip.

My dd went to a new secondary school in Sept and had some very rocky first months there. She hated it up to and beyond Christmas and we were ringing our hands thinking we had made the wrong choice.

She then had a non-optional class trip in early Feb which she was dreading. But the school planned it really well, they picked who shared with whom ( no one was allowed to share a room with established friends from primary for example) they did some excellent activities: hiking, jewellery making, baking etc but best of all they had a private "getting to know you session" hosted by form teacher where they shared worries/fears/hopes/difficulties etc plus lots of fun group bonding stuff and since then dd has never looked back!

Honestly, the trip made all the difference. She still has the odd wobble of course but in general she is really happy at school now and has established lots of new friendships, which really all stems from that trip away!

Two nights isn't that long for a 12 yr old. You never know, he might have lots of fun! Good luck to him anyway!

SpareCrust Sat 28-May-16 13:09:09

Sorry didn't twig before that he had gone away before and had been fine. If so, this could just be a passing phase caused by hormones or something. My nephew went through a strange phase when he was 13 or so when he woke at night and felt he couldn't breathe due to anxiety. If your ds is going through a phase like that then I wouldn't push him. If it's just "normal" worries about lack of friends/fear of the new then I wd encourage him to go.

(Nephew is fine now btw and travelling all over the world quite happily!)

CodyKing Sat 28-May-16 16:39:19

Surely this is a chance to make friends - out side school environment?

ChipsWithEverything Sun 29-May-16 06:59:40

Thanks SpareCrust for sharing both your stories. That trip for your DD sounds fantastic. Really glad your DD has started to show signs of being more settled.

Bit of background: I think some of it may be hormone led, but it's also to do with him not settling well at school and sadly not making any strong connection with friends. (Despite the fact that he's good friendship material). He just hasn't found the right friend / group of friends yet. We know they exist but we've settled in the fact that it will take some time.. We too have been ringing our hands about his school and whether it's right for him. During the past year, I've spoken to DS's school countless times about him not settling well and whilst they've been kind in their responses to us as parents, they have done precious little sorting any strategies that might help him. Anxiety has been an issue.

CodyKing - yes, that's one of the main reasons I'd love him to go. You never know... He doesn't see it like that. He feels he will embarrass himself as he will miss me and become more withdrawn/anxious and mess up further. He's tied himself up in knots when we've talked about it.

The good news was when I spoke to the teacher organising the trip the other day, he was very kind and asked me if there was anything he could do to help the situation. I discussed putting him in a room with a couple of boys he sort of knows. There's only 4 going from his class, so I named those. He agreed. I spoke to DS last night about it. He did a sort of 'meh' look/response.. saying he doesn't know them that well, and two of them are best friends anyway.

The last few days he's been in a great mood (half term holiday probably). I might approach the subject with him some more today whilst he's got a smile on his face.

See what happens (hides under a pillow)

OP’s posts: |
SpareCrust Sun 29-May-16 16:14:20

Thanks Chips it is a huge relief now that dd is happier. It's not all plain sailing by any means at the school, but about as good as it gets with fairly sensitive child if that makes sense.

V difficult to make a decision as to what is best course of action when it's a mix of things.

As teacher helpful (and if school amenable) would it be possible to come to some sort of solid agreement about your ds being able to ring you at a set time if he feels the need, without the other boys knowing? Or similarly (depending on driving distance) come to an agreement about you collecting him on evening of first day if it turns out he is miserable (on some pretext such as grandmother's birthday or something so he doesn't feel self conscious about it). Not entirely sure that would help though and it might make it worse. Some boarding schools (who are experienced with this sort of thing) don't allow parental contact for the first few days of term because of it being too upsetting/disruptive.

Said nephew down thread also had difficulties "gelling" with others in his class and finding a particular set of friends early on in secondary school. The situation gradually improved however as the years went on and he ended up having an active social life in fourth/fifth/sixth form.

I hope things work out for your ds similarly. And also that he feels comfortable enough to go on trip because on balance it would probably help his confidence if he was able to "survive" it without too much trauma. Happy to hand hold on here to if/when he goes! (Know from experience how stressful these situations are! Anxiety is really horrible!

ChipsWithEverything Sat 04-Jun-16 08:16:11

Thanks Sparecrust. Really appreciate everything you have to say...

Settling in for DS has been so hard. I'm sure it will improve over time, but we think, like your nephew, it may take a few years.

In order to prep him for next week, we managed to persuade him to say yes to a sleepover he'd been invited to this week... He went last night, was absolutely dreading it, but was prepared to 'have a go'. He was very anxious when he first arrived and was already in tears having a major panic within the first hour (he hid in the bathroom to phone me). It broke my heart and I was thoroughly expecting him to phone up to beg me to pick him up within the next hour.

Then all communication stopped from him and I started to get more hopeful.

At 11.30 I received a call from him. (I was about to fall asleep, so the call really panicked me!) The first thing he said was 'This is easy' !!! I couldn't believe it. Then he went on to tell me (excitedly) they'd just watched a film and they were all off to bed. (There were a few boys staying). I'm going to pick him up this morning. I'm chuffed for him and over the moon he stuck it out. Hopefully this will build his confidence for next week.

Today is a good day

OP’s posts: |
notagiraffe Sat 04-Jun-16 08:23:26

OP that's such good news! I came on here to suggest you encourage hm to go. DS2 is very nervous of overnights. He went off to Spain with the school and was dreading it. He came home tall and tanned and so confident, having had a brilliant time. He's also had a couple of less successful trips where he was ill while he was away. But he survived them and coped. Which is what overnights are all about. Coping away from family.

I found the magic phrase, 'it's natural to be nervous, but I'm confident you can handle it' soothed him. He seemed to like the idea that I had confidence in him and that he could handle whatever was thrown his way.

SavoyCabbage Sat 04-Jun-16 09:43:14

I had tears in my eyes reading that Chips!

sadie9 Mon 13-Jun-16 15:28:06

A good trick I find, is to say to them, 'there probably is a part of you that would really love to go on this trip, so think about that part of you. That there might be something in this trip for you, that you would really enjoy and get a lot out of. And that everything new will feel 'clunky' at first that is absolutely normal'.
This just draws their attention to a different side of them - not the anxious side, the part of them that would enjoy it and would be prepared to take a chance on it.
I use the same technique on myself (if I can remember in the midst of the anxious/fear of doing something new).

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