Extreme anxiety about school starting

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by hamlet, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. hamlet

    hamlet New Member

    My poor difficult child is having daily melt-downs and outbursts about school starting on 8/29. He's worried about the kids who tease him, about not being popular, about the amount of homework, about the "mean" teachers, about not having any fun for months and about our family not having the kinds of clothes and toys the other families do. He literally cries and cries and get so worked up about it. At other times when he is swallowing the fear he lashes out in anger.

    It all started when he became incensed that easy child and I were making fun of our dog by calling him pet names instead of his actual name. This is nothing new, we've always had nicknames for our precious pet, but suddenly difficult child considers this mocking and belittling behavior.

    difficult child does very well academically, that is not an issue thank God. Believe me, I know how blessed we are by that fact alone. How do I help him to get past the next two weeks and hopefully see that school is not going to be as bad as he's predicting? I think one calls this...cognitive distortions...according to psychiatrist.
  2. keista

    keista New Member

    First things first, if you haven't already, stop using 'pet names' for the pet. I'm sure it's completely normal family stuff, but difficult child suddenly doesn't see it that way and sees you as being mean to the dog. So, now difficult child sees you, the person he loves and trusts, who loves him, as suddenly being a mean person. Well, if mom can turn mean, then what's going to happen with the teachers? They weren't all that nice and fun to start with, so they are going to be 4x as mean.

    Yes, cognitive distortion certainly sounds right. Have you considered tweaking the medications?
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Does he have an IEP? I know he is doing well academically, but he can have an IEP to help with the emotional piece. Even without an IEP, call the school and ask to talk to the principal or the counselor. With Eeyore, we do multiple walk-throughs of his schedule before the 'official' open house. The principal met with Eeyore and assured him that they do not like bullying at the school and talked him through what to do if it happened to him or he saw it happening to another. One year, Eeyore helped a couple teachers carry stuff in from their cars (they weren't his teacher but just getting their praise for being such a good helper was esteem building and then he felt like he had people he 'knew' if he really needed them).
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Keista and JJJ have made some great suggestions. It sounds like difficult child might be projecting his feelings to the pets so he's taking the pet names "personally". For the time being, I would stop doing it. Why add to his anxiety? If you can set up some walk throughs and maybe meeting the teachers a couple times before school starts without other kids around, that should help tremendously. I know it also worked for my difficult child. We do it every year.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Is it possible that his fears are justified, especially regarding the bullying? Kids can be brutal to others that they feel don't fit in. Often, kids don't tell us the worst of it too. I used to get bullied and I remember trying to tell my mother, but she sort of brushed it off and said, "Deal with it. There's nothing I can do." Well, hard to deal with it when six kids are after you and others are standing around laughing and the teachers are clueless. Yes, I told the teachers too, but they also brushed it off.
    I was petrified of school. By high school, I faked being sick and cut classes as often as I could, although the bullying had ended. Sadly, teachers often side with the more popular kids. I saw this myself and felt very helpless.
  6. hamlet

    hamlet New Member

    Unfortunately, I think that this is part of it. The children ARE brutal toward each other. It's not just difficult child, but he because of his diagnosis he is not as resilient as the other kids. And, you are so right about the teachers taking sides. An incident at the end of last year was absolutely ridiculous in this regard.

    I will request the IEP for difficult child for the emotional factors this year. I tried to make the teachers/principle aware of it last year, but it may have actually caused them to place blame on difficult child even more, since he's the "sick" kid. When he tried to explain himself they would say, "Oh, but you can't use that as an excuse!" Uh, it's not an excuse, it's a reason you fool!

    ETA: We, (easy child and me,) have stopped using nicknames for the pets in deference to difficult child. It's a hard habit to break, though.

    I can only guess that the kids who do the bullying get away with it because their parents tolerate it, and even excuse it. I can't imagine that! Sometimes it feels like the reasonable voice gets drowned out by all of the chatter and one-ups-manship.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  7. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    i doubt the other parents ignore their kids bullying. they probably don't even know their kid is doing it. the kid is not going to be honest about it or admit that they are doing it so if the teachers not noticing it or not reporting it to their parents the parents will never know.
    i was also a kid that was 'different' at school and spent my time hiding in a bathroom stall or i would flee the school as soon as the bell rang, forget about changing shoes ect. i told my parents a bit but they didn't seem to understand so i just stopped trying. i told the school and it was my fault for not trying harder to fit in according to them. i ended up dropping out and homeschooling myself. i don't think any of the kids parents ever knew they were like that.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I'd call it "paranoid". As in - based on real past experiences, NOT on "cognitive distortions".
    We've been there done that.

    Emotional and mental wellness issues are JUST AS IMPORTANT as "medical" ones. Maybe more. And very debilitating.
    In fact, the way the school is reacting amounts to him being bullied by the TEACHERS.
    And he's supposed to trust them? and work with them? and just be "normal"???

    Can you use this time to try to find out which particular parts of the day are a problem (lunch and recess vs. classroom, for example, or problems in PE but not English)
    What kind of strategies can you start coming up with? Even for him to be able to capture and document the issues?

    Anxiety based on real past experience is best handled by creating new coping strategies.
    Because the problems are AT SCHOOL, there is no way to make progress without school's involvement.
    in my humble opinion.
    but I'm just a parent, of course.
  9. hamlet

    hamlet New Member

    InsaneCdn, what I mean by the cognitive distortion comment is that difficult child takes the real problem of bullying or teasing and projects it into all areas of his life, his personality, physique, his self-image. in my opinion that is his illness and lack of self esteem talking. What I need the school to understand is that not only is the bullying and teasing wrong and it should not be tolerated, they also need to take extra steps to ensure that difficult child is respected and believed by the adults.

    When a conflict between students arises I think that the adults say, "Here's a kid with known emotional/behavioral problems. It must be (at least partially) his fault." Instead what they should say is, "Here's a kid with known emotional/behavioral problems. Let's be sensitive to his increased vulnerability to bullying/teasing and make sure that the matter is solved in a constructive way so that it doesn't increase his problems."

    Of course that would require the adult to set his/her personal agenda aside.

    ready2run, I know that parents tolerate and even encourage bullying and teasing in their children. Bigotry is a learned behavior, beit racisim, economic priviledge and bullying, or just pure selfishness, intolerance and entitlement. Teachers and child care workers practically beg parents to take a stand against unacceptable behavior at school. My children get double consequences for misbehavior - at school AND at home. It boggles my mind that a when a parent is contacted due to their child bullying another they will defend and make excuses for their child. One parent said that difficult child must be complaining about her daughter teasing him and calling him names because he secretly "likes" her, (as in a crush.) Uh, no, difficult child does not like this girl. She is mean, and not just to him.

    The teacher and the school accepted this rationale, which I found to be political and sexist. A boy is supposed to just take teasing from a girl, and if he can't it's because he secretly desires her and can't have her. What a load of *rap.

    Anyway, that was the end of last year and I could not deal with it then. I see that it has stayed with difficult child and I will address it in the upcoming year.

    ETA; I really appreciate the insight about teacher bullying and coping strategies. I will definitely demand that the school assist difficult child this year! Next year he goes into middle school so now is the time for us to get a handle on it.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Seems to me that you have two separate problems to deal with - and both are tough, and both work against each other.

    1) School doesn't understand mental health issues. Everything about the assumptions and premises and ways of operating work completely against kids with these issues. "But its only a few kids who have the problem, so it can't possibly be the school." - ya right.

    2) Your son doesn't understand school. The depression and anxiety don't allow him to understand how the other kids think and operate, and what the subtilties of social interaction are, and all the unwritten and unspoken rules. So the things that happen - he reacts to in ways that throw the others off. So it escalates.

    Any idea of the cause of the depression and anxiety? You might get further by focusing on this part of the knot and seeing if you can unravel it from there. There may be some hidden disabilities in the background that you don't know about - or that you do know about but that haven't really been dealt with in ways that help at school.

    Does he have any exceptional talents? Or some interests that you can turn into talents? He's at a rough age - where kids start to define themselves by what they can accomplish. If he can get a new "handle", a new "tag", the other kids will begin to treat him differently. Doubtful that will be sports - but art? music? math? drama? motors? origami? chess? something, anything. Then, give him extra lessons etc. to bring up his skills to the point that the other kids can move from just saying "he's strange", to "he's strange but he's really good at XXX". It changes how they are perceived, and therefore how they perceive themselves.