DS 19 zero confidence and social anxiety(16 Posts)
Hi. Having spent the last two hours trying to research this issue online, I thought I would see if any mumsnetters have any words of wisdom. I have a DS19 who has always been very shy and low in confidence, which has held him back during a lot of his school life, although very able and bright. He has a small group of close friends, and left college in September but has not worked since. He claims he can't face being in situations where he has to communicate or be amongst people he doesn't know, and feels socially awkward. I see a bit of me in him, as I too was very shy and lacking in confidence when young, so I feel I am maybe enabling him to not to work as I really feel empathy for how he feels. DH is not happy at how things are, and is pushing him to get a job, but I don't know the best way to deal with this situation. Does anyone have any experience of this with an older teen, and if they have gone down the counselling route, and if this helped? Also any knowledge of a good self help book? Loads on Amazon so it's difficult to pinpoint a good one. He's pretty happy go lucky at home, and not depressed, but I worry all this may lead to depression and I want to help him to move forward in life.
My OH's teenage son has ASD and severe anxiety. He's not as old as your son though - nearly 17. We've found the best way is to do everything slowly, little by little, with advance discussion and practice runs.
So regarding work, for example, what worked well was one day's work experience a week, with plenty of support, to start, and building that up. (This was alongside some college stuff and home tutoring.) It's a bit of a rollercoaster, tbh.
Anxiety is not always understood in teenage boys, unfortunately. How does your son spend his days? He really does need to be doing something, even to a limited degree.
What qualifications does he have? How does he manage financially? Sorry if those questions seem intrusive, genuinely would like to help.
Thank you Lineysrun.. he stays at home during the day mostly, but does things round the house as both me and DH work full time. He does have a small group of good friends who he sometimes hangs out with. I think he feels guilty about not working so tries to put energy into doing things at home to make up for it. He has GCSEs with good passes in the main subjects English and Maths, and some BTEC passes in business studies and public services, and has applied for jobs but goes into a blind panic when summoned for interviews. He applies for jobs below his ability, ironically bar work and shop work which I would imagine are not good jobs for someone with social anxiety. He doesn't go out to bars/shops etc so money isn't a problem with him. He has sold PC games etc to get little bits of money. I often feel tempted to give him money, but DH is quite adamant that I don't enable him to not get work by funding him being at home, and I can see where he's coming from with that so I don't help him financially. I just worry that he hasn't taken the normal step forward at this stage of his life, into work, but I think it's his really low self worth that's stopping him, and I want to help, but don't know what to do.
Does the college have a careers service? Maybe there could be some pointers for him there?
I don't want to get to far into it but I was very similar at his age. The sheer amount of choice in life was baffling somehow, so maybe if he can see a path ahead with some clear steps to take it will help? Although you say he's been invited for interviews? Is there something he'd really like to do, even if it's unrealistic at the moment?
I feel for him, but your dh is kind of right, you can't enable him too much. But I agree with you, pushing hard only made me worse. You sound like you are doing your best to support him. Maybe shop work would be good for him?
I ended up working in a shop which helped me to develop day to day confidence and gave me an dread of having to work in retail for the rest of my life so I went to university at the other end of the country! I did it in small steps, browsed courses, applied etc and before I knew it I was there and living my life. I understand it's harder for people to just do this nowadays, but still, big changes can be made in small steps.
My DS (also 19) is a bit like this though maybe not as much as yours. Has only ever went to one party in his teen years, doesn't go out much, spends most of his free time in his room. His friends got jobs so he decided he wanted money (we didn't give him any but paid his phone and he get a little pocket money from grandparents) and got a job as a kitchen Porter. He absolutely hated it - would come home in tears, tell me some stuff they did to him (food in his pockets, dirty jobs, no breaks etc). My heart wanted to let him quit but DH said no way - or not until he gets another job. He's been there nearly 2 years now and is now behind the bar. He's started going out a little bit - even went on the work night out - and he's going to his first concert soon. So maybe your boy is just a slow burner too. Overall though, I think it might be better to "make" him get a job - it might be the making of him. Good luck
Yes, I do think there are 'slow burners'.
OP, your son sounds well qualified in vocational BTECs - does he not want to pursue uniformed services at all?
Poor kid. Is he claiming benefits at all? If so can the job centre help with any confidence building courses etc? Or other courses/ support? Or is there anything he can self refer to? Maybe via careers service? Princes Trust are very good.
Gp referral for counselling?
I think your dh is right though, he does need to take steps to get himself out if this rut as it will grow and seem insurmountable the longer he stays at home.
This sort of thing. www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/get-job/boost-your-confidence
I know there are other programmes as well, both locally and nationally. I bet the careers people at his former college will know what's what.
Another alternative - can you say that this is fair enough but he has to do something useful and make a contribution to society, even if it's not paid? One step that he might take - and that might give him some experience and confidence in different kinds of work - is volunteering. Lots of possibilities, he could do unpaid office work for a charity, or outdoor work, or help in the stockroom of a charity shop. It could be just a couple of days a week. I know a bright young lad with MH issues who got into shop management starting as a volunteer in a charity shop. With your DH's agreement you could subsidise his travel to a volunteer post.
Counselling might help for the shyness and social anxiety. But at this stage he probably also needs to do something that gets him engaged with the outside world, not just waiting for the counselling to work. The thing about anxiety is that you do have to push the boundaries of what you can do a tiny bit or the walls close in further. Keep the steps tiny but do insist he takes them.
Yes, I agree. That's why the princes trust programme (and similar) offer confidence boosting as well as training and work experience etc. All round package.
Hi, my son has anxiety problems and depression he, s nearly 17. He has taken a year out and is really not doing much apart from going on his computer.
Volunteering could be a great way into work... charity shops etc always need volunteers - try do-it org for local opportunities. Could build his confidence before he tackles anything else?
Sorry this is long....I am getting desperate for some sort of support and decided to check MN. Thank you livelovebehappy for posting! My 19yo ds dropped out of college over a year ago. He hasn't done anything since. Stays in his room most of the time. Hasn't been out of the house for 6 months. Have spoken to GP, as he's now 19 there nothing I can do. Spoken to Young Minds. They advise lots of encouragement gently, gently and to get him out of the house. I try and persuade him to go out for various reasons but he refuses and doesn't talk about it, how can I MAKE him if will not go out for anything. He does engage with me albeit sparsely when I try and make general chit chat and he helped out a lot redecorating his room last year but wouldn't come out and choose paint or carpet colours. As soon as I try and talk about the situation he shuts down completely, head droops and does not look at me or reply to anything i say. I've suggested evening classes, volunteering, apprentice open days, on line courses everything I can think of. I'm now feeling at my wits end. I've written him a letter, I don't nag. I did in the beginning but when I accepted after a couple of months that maybe college wasn't right for him I stopped nagging. He can't live like this forever can he? All I do is pay household bills and his phone, he has no income whatsoever, I don't give him anything. He makes his own breakfasts and comes down to eat with me in the evenings then leaves literally as soon as he's finished. Last year I thought he was depressed and had some social anxiety issues but I can't get him help if he doesn't want it. For the past few months have been wondering if he is somewhere on the autistic spectrum and is undiagnosed, as he's always been very quiet, going back to nursery days, and not able to talk to adults much. School seemed difficult for him socially but did pretty good with GCSEs and BTECs. Teachers liked him but all said he was too quiet. He was doing BTEC IT at college and was doing very very well. His twin did A levels and is now at uni. I know that there are so many possible psychological reasons for his behaviour, and maybe some pathological, or maybe he's fine and this is just his personality!! but I don't know what else to do. Do I just carry on doing what I'm doing and hope he eventually comes out of it? I'm getting so much conflicting advice from well meaning people I just want to talk to someone who's actually been in a similar situation.
Hi, you can get help privately or on the NHS and they do home visits!! My son has had home visits. Are you in the north of England? My son didn't go to college he was badly bullied all through school, as he suffers with executive dysfunction and struggles with social skills unless he feels he knows them. Friends soon depart and he is left on his own. He did his GCSE,s and we tried to get him into alevels but wouldn't go and has been at home the last year,on his computer playing games. He has depression and is on meds for this but we are having reassessed privately.
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