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15yo son is a holiday nightmare(16 Posts)
My 15yo son is a tricky individual. He is high maintenance and stressy - properly so, he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression about 18 months ago and asked to leave his school. We found a new school and that side of things has settled down. The depression has abated. The anxiety less so. Family holidays remain very difficult.
He becomes either hyper or morose and then becomes aggressive and really obnoxious. This afternoon (I'm on holiday at the moment) we were on a busy beach and from nowhere - I think he was being reminded to say thank you - he was shouting and swearing at his dad, telling him to fuck off. Holidays have been like this for the past 4 years. He can't articulate what the problem is, and whilst he is super nice after a tantrum, he doesn't apologise.
It is getting to the stage that I don't want to take him on holiday any more. But not having a proper family holiday would be so unfair on his three siblings. And his parents. We always consult with him before a holiday, try to get him ready for the change in routine. He's fine for a couple of days and then the wheels start falling off.
Does anyone have any suggestions or words of wisdom?
What treatment is he having? I have never known a school to ask a student to leave because of depression.
Don't take him on holiday. Don't reward that behavior. The others will probably be relieved.
Many teenagers find 'family' holidays challenging
and boring can you leave him with grandparents or an aunt/uncle/friend? Would he do a PGL or similar holiday on his own?
I never went on holidays with my parents after age 13.
He wasn't asked to leave school because of his diagnosis. More because of his resultant behaviour. (It was a fee paying school.) He has CBT and has come off Prozac. His choice.
He has done PGL in the past but finds it too restrictive. He reckons all ages are treated like 10 year olds. I can't leave him with extended family for two weeks and I can't just not take him! Although I agree, we would ALL be relieved if that was an option. In his defence, he can be a lovely young person, but often I feel like we are walking on eggshells.
What sort of holidays do you tend to choose? We recently went to a water sports resort which was great as there was loads for everyone to do without having to hang out all together all the time . But we did go 'off season' as DS had finished his exams - these places can be expensive in peak season.
I think taking him is unfair on your other children, he is blighting their childhood. Can one of you stay with him and the other go on holiday ?
If Prozac isn't working why was he not switched into something else?
I'm unsure of the link between anxiety, depression and poor behaviour. I have anxiety and depression but they don't affect me so I would be asked to leave a workplace.
Next year offer to pay for him to go away with one of his friends family then they can tolerate him?
And swearing at you?! Pfft that's a big no no!!!
Put your foot down immediately when that happens.
Depression does not make you swear
The Prozac worked quite well, actually. He certainly has had no more suicidal thoughts and he feels joy now. Teenage anxiety and depression commonly shows as aggression. He wasn't aggressive at school but he was at home. At school it was compulsive behaviour that was the problem.
He is mostly ok now, as his new school gives him a good routine but the changes on holiday and the lack of a familiar space to retreat to makes him unpredictable.
But yes, activities can be helpful. Climbing and go karting work well. I'll see what else I can find.
So why did he come off it? Sounds like CBT alone isn't doing the job.
Can you go on a holiday with loads to do for teens?
My older brother was like this, even when he had special treatment above the rest of us he would be a nightmare. The only answer was not to take him as he really did ruin things. He stopped wanting to come anyway by about age 16/17, and would ask for the cash instead though he didnt get it.
The idea of leaving my anxious only DS (17) at home while we go away on holiday is completely alien to me, but that's my perspective .
I think the key to the problem is here:
we were on a busy beach and from nowhere...
For an anxious teen a busy beach in a strange location is just too much to cope with. Could you, as parents, split your attention between your DS and his siblings. One parent needs to give extra attention to DS to ensure he is not stressed while the other can ensure the others enjoy whatever activities they like. It's hard work but that's just bloody parenting.
In our family it is DH who is the holiday disaster. His work is really stressful so when he is on holiday it takes at least three days to finally relax and stop bitching at us. DS and I have to carefully coach him into relaxing. Hard work but necessary if we're all to have a good holiday. Anxious teens the same, they need more attention not less when on holiday. Just saying...
This probably wouldn't be an option, but just in case - would taking a friend of his be helpful? We took our two + one friend each on our holiday/annual visit to gps, great aunts etc. It worked well. But we weren't going abroad. And six won't fit in our car so the eldest two teens made their own way by train - which they liked, but made the logistics more complicated.