Concerns about difficult child


Active Member
difficult child is still doing remarkable considering his history. We aren't having any outbursts still. He was a butthead about his grade 8 grad, as I posted. He does not clean up his room without me mentioning it for days and then does not clean it well by any means. This is probably typical teen stuff. Ironically he loves the rest of the house clean, super clean, if it isn't he wonders whats wrong with me and wants it cleaned ;).
My concern is that difficult child is basically turned into a hermit. When he first moved back home I figured he was just enjoying being back in the fold, so to speak and settling back in, therefore sticking close to home. Then as time passed, I thought maybe he's afraid if he goes out with friends he is going to get into trouble and doesn't want to rock the boat or mess up, so is sticking close to home. But at this point, he's been home since October 2006 and he is more of a hermit now than ever.
He has ONE friend. ONE. The older boy who has lived next to difficult child's grandmonster since he was a baby. I used to loathe what I heard of this boy, now I kinda like him. He messes up but at heart is a good kid. He is 18 (difficult child is 14) but has a sort of immaturity about him that mixed with difficult child's maturity, levels them out. difficult child has cut off all contact with other kids since moving home. He did have a g/f for several months after moving home, he would go to her house but mostly she came here. Other than that he has left the house a total of 5 times since October to see his friend.
I have asked him to come to the mall with me shopping etc. He says no because there are crowds. We dont' live in a huge city, the mall gets busy but not crazy like big cities by any means. I said let's go early in the a.m. when it is not busy yet. Still too many people.
difficult child will go out some places with me. Like to the movies etc. Jokes around he looks like a geek/loser on a Fri or Sat night going to movies with mom, but he seems happy enough to be there despite his joking.
Sunday was Canada Day and I was shocked he agreed to head to our beautiful waterfront for fireworks. We took a taxi down there with only about 5 minutes to spare before the fireworks started. We watched and immediatly left and walked home. He was very stressed out when leaving as there were crowds of people walking out the same way we were. Said he shouldn't have come because he should have known there would be crowds. Mind you this was along a huge road, wasn't like we were bumping into each other etc. There were alot of people leaving but very spread out and relaxed atmosphere. He walked with a hood pulled over his face, staring at his feet and didnt' pull the hood down or talk really until we'd cleared the area where there were people.
I am very worried about him. While walking home that night I gently mentioned I was concerned, especially about the crowds etc. I told him that it sounds like anxiety (well doesn't sound like, it IS anxiety but didn't want to tee him off) and that he doesn't have to stay feeling this way and shutting himself off from the world, there is help. He said no, I'm good. End of discussion. It was clear that trying to continue the conversation would have lead nowhere good so I backed off to not stress him out more. By the time we got home you could visibly see the relief.
He starts high school this Sept. I am worried about that. He is going from a small elementary school to a very large high school. This is the only Catholic high school in the entire district, so all Catholic students in our city plus all outlying areas for about a 45 minute drive radius around us. Huge school population. There will be crowds in between each class change etc. Thousands of students. I don't know how/if he is going to handle the new situation. He expressed some stress about this to me the other day, so yup, he's already worried about it.
This is the same kid who last summer at a massive outdoor concert, pushed his way with his friends to the front of the crowd of probably 10,000 people to the pit thingee where the teens hang out. He ended up breaking his wrist being tossed around the top of the crowd the way crazy teens throw each other at concerts, and he couldn't have cared less. He loved it. :frown:
So while he isn't behaviourally acting out anymore, he is not the same kid at all. Sadly, it is easy to not address because day to day he is content, happy, relaxed etc. So long as he's at home. His new thing is, why should he care about crowded events, friends etc. He has everything he needs here at home and there is no reason for him to bother with the rest of normal teen stuff. Says his one friend is enough when he wants to hang out with him. The thing is, he rarely does hang out with him anymore.


New Member
I don't know anything about social anxiety, but I wanted to let you know that I read this and I'm thinking of you and your difficult child. It's great that you recognized this before it has gotten too out of hand (i.e. he won't leave the house AT ALL). But, it sounds like it's definately something you'll need to address with his psychiatrist.

I'm sure the others will be along with some first hand experience. :::hugs:::


Well-Known Member
Does he even have a psychiatrist anymore? Will he even go?

I do think it sounds like he has developed a nice case of social anxiety which could fast grow into agorophobia. He badly needs to get into therapy to work on this.

Wishing you luck.


Well-Known Member
Sounds like anxiety, but I am not sure how you should approach it. I guess continuing to try to educate him every now and then seems like the least explosive way.


New Member
I agree with Janet. It sounds like it could easily lead something more serious if it continues. I hope you can find a way to get him to talk to someone.

My first thought was bullying in school. This could definitely cause him to not want to participate in any school activities or activities where the bullies might be. Is there someone he is truly afraid of that might have gone to the fireworks?

I hope you find some answers. I know I hate it when my daughter seems to not have any friends or is unwilling to do things with her peers. It was a major problem in middle school and, yes, was due to bullying by three girls. She didn't tell me about it for years. High school was somewhat better because she was away from these girls and their cruelty most of the time.


Here we go again!
Definitely sounds agoraphobic -- my father is one. He needs to understand that this will only get worse with time if he doesn't get help now for it, and he will end up missing out on soooo much in life if it is left untreated.

Hope you can get him to talk to a psychiatrist or therapist about this. He may be a teen, but he's still a child, so you may have to take the reigns on this and lead the way.

FWIW, difficult child 1 is an anxious kid, and developed a needle phobia. This past year I had to load him up on Ativan just for blood draws, which he needs frequently, and it was still very stressful for him. We tried CBT, which helped a bit, but not enough. He started an antidepressant last month and when we went for bloodwork two weeks ago, I cut the Ativan dose in half to see how it would go and he did WONDERFULLY -- so I just want to say that there is hope. Anti-d's may or may not work for your difficult child, but working closely with your psychiatrist there is likely a positive outcome to all of this for him.


Active Member
Thank you all. difficult child isn't being bullied. Luckily he went to a school with a bunch of relatively good kids and although he didn't hang out with any of them, he wasn't made fun of or bullied. He IS maintaining contact with kids online, some old friends, a few from his class. But he has not made "real life" friends with any of these kids.
We do not have a anybody to see professionally other than family doctor (awesome doctor, very understanding) and the pediatrician who in our town, due to lack of doctors in northern parts of this province, is also the doctor for mental health issues. She also is a great doctor. I "think" difficult child "might" talk to one of the two of these docs. He is no longer in counselling. Refuses to go back, I think due to so many ineffective years there (his lack of efforts). At this point, I will NOT push counselling, he would regress quickly, he's made that clear. It never helped really anyhow for him.
When difficult child was diagnosed last year with essential tremors in his hands, we realized then, the family doctor and the pediatrician, that anxiety/stress made the tremors worse and the pediatrician openly spoke with difficult child about anxiety. So he's not angry at the thought or topic, he just I think doesn't understand why it's happening and is scared I'm going to drag him to therapy etc etc etc.
I think there are other anxiety triggers. I noticed some school issues that caused what I believe to be anxiety. High anxiety.
Also, never used to be a problem, but he says that when people talk about other people being hurt or sick or having medical problems, people we know or on t.v. or whatever, he starts having pains in that area or whatever. He says he knows it isn't real pain, nothing is wrong with him, but he symptathizes too much. So he does recognize he is having feelings, anxiety that aren't "natural". That is better than denying a problem at least.
I think I'll set him up for a doctor's appointment and tell him just the day before, say a check up to him and throw in we might as well mention the anxiety. *knock on wood*


Active Member
WOW - you could have written this about my Matt! Weird! :smile:

I wish I had the answer as well. We had years of rage, aggression, and crazy neighborhood and school antics - and then about a year ago - he became basically anti-social. Not in a socio-pathic way, but in a "I don't need friends" way. At first this was a relief, since in the past friends had just added more chaos to our lives. But now, he has become fearful of anything that has to do with people. A true social anxiety, bordering on agorophobia has emerged. He has an anxiety attack shopping, and a panic attack with even the mention of going to somewhere with lots of people.

If Matt had not done such an extreme 180 in the past year, I think I would be more worried, but in my gut I feel like he is somehow trying to keep himself out of trouble by being a hermit. Unfortunately, now it has taken a life of its own, causing him almost as much pain as getting in trouble always did. (in my opinion)

I am as lost as you are. It is interesting though, that both of our Matts are so happy sitting at home that they do not to want to change. Maybe the security of knowing they will not get in trouble when they are home brings them peace? Now, I am just taking it on as my daily challenge to force him daily into social situations, even if it is shopping, or a movie.

One other thing is that my son has a NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), which I recently read can cause agorophobia as these kids get older. I guess because social situations are so complicated and confusing that they would rather withdraw. Hmmmmmmm.....not that that gives any answers either! Just insight.