School anxiety

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jules71, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    I really need some advice here. difficult child is really struggling this year with school (6th gr - elementary). He hates his teachers and doesn't have any real friends at school. He has been home the last 3 days sick and when I tell him he must go back tomorrow he melts down and cries and begs me not to make him. I tried talking to him about it and told him whatever the problem is at school, I will try to help fix it. He just does not seem to be able to cope.

    So what should I do? What options do we have? I've considered online school but he doesn't usually do what I tell him so not sure that would work either. What happens if he were to try online schooling for the rest of this year being that there are only a few months to go? Who would I contact to discuss this? I just don't know what to do. Of course him threatening to kill himself if I make him go doesn't make things any easier.
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    That is really tough for your boy - and really tough for you, dealing with it. It is awful to dread going to school. I can't help with who you might discuss online schooling with, being outside the US, but I did want to ask how you see the future. Would the online school be just a brief respite before returning to conventional school in the autumn? What help is available to your son - does he have an IEP?

    Not having friends, not being positively connected, is a really painful experience for kids, akin to being in real, physical pain I think. Your son's distress is understandable. Is there an establishment available to you that will help him in this regard?
  3. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My son suffers from school anxiety and has since first grade. Foster at least one buddy was a huge deal. Back in second grade I was able to help him by bringing social activities outside of school with a buddy from school into his life. His friend would come over, usually once a week I would pick them both up after school. Sometimes we would just meet S and his mom at our fav neighborhood Italian place so the boys could experience eating out and sitting for longer then five minutes! S's mom and I would plan outings like a trip to the state fair, exbonehead taking the boys to see the globetrotters, meeting to hang in the snow on a snow day, etc.

    When a kid has a friend outside of school that attends the same school, it gives them a real feeling of connection. That was one piece.

    The other piece was making sure difficult child had a "safe place" in middle school. A place (he chose the nurses office) he could go if he was feeling overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated. It was written in his IEP that there were no negative classroom consequences should he decide to use his "pass". Knowing he had a place to go if he needed it was another piece.

    Having a really good relationship with his case worker and the Special Education department was another piece.

    Making sure he had the academic supports, and there were a number of modifications and accommodations in his middle school IEP, that helped to "level the playing field". Many of difficult child's anxious moments were the result of frustration with the manner in which work was presented.

    Once we got those pieces together, it was much smoother for difficult child. It takes a lot of time, but so worth it in the end. difficult child is a senior in high school now and has no academic mods or accoms now! Early intervention is KEY!

    Hope some of these ideas offer support.

  4. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Warrior in training

    I think I remember you saying your son has an IEP; if so call an emergency meeting! Obviously it's not working and they need to make changes so he feels more supported. He's not getting any education at all if he can't attend. Does your gut tell you it's social issues or academic issues that are causing the anxiety? My difficult child is in a social skills group as part of his IEP. I love LDM's suggestions.

    As for online school, have you presented the idea to him? How does he react? I would not start if you don't think you can swing it long term. I know my difficult child would most probably do well in an online environment but I know he needs to learn to be around other people to be able to function in the real world. I'd not be doing him any favors by removing that interaction so I am hoping the school can teach him.
  5. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Thank you for all the support and understanding!

    Yes, he has an IEP. We just went thru his 3 yr re-evaluation and have an IEP meeting next week. No they are not meeting his needs and I feel like it is too late. I feel his anxiety stems from social issues and not having a connection with anyone at his school. He went to another school from K-4 and then this one 5 & 6. It was kind of a fresh start for him and last year was very peaceful compared to this year. His teacher is a terrible fit for him and I have been fighting him since day 1 on many issues. He had a great connection with his old sped teacher at the first school, but she retired.

    I have always considered online schooling - but at this point, I am just trying to get him thru the rest of the school year. Next year is junior high and he will know people from both of the schools he has attended. I might be delusional but I think having 6 different classes/teachers/peers will help. At least that is what I am telling myself.

    So I need short term suggestions for how to get him thru 6th grade. He has had a strong aversion to school since Pre-K.

    He has one on-again off-again friend in the neighborhood that goes to the old school. They are on the outs right now. I have done so much to foster that relationship and it is purely one sided. I am friends with the mom but she does not reciprocate things like sleep overs, get togethers, etc. We take him bowling, skating, to sporting events, have him sleep over, etc, etc, etc. It's so frustrating. We've needed a social skills class for many years but never could find one. At this age, he would not want to participate in something like that at school and they've never offered either.

    His IEP is useless. One goal for avoiding conflict, and one goal for asking for help when needed - and some organization supports. Nothing about how he will learn to handle conflict or how he will learn to ask for help. At this point with the school, it is like beating a dead horse. They don't get it.
  6. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    i'm guessing he feels less heard than you do and its more that than the social piece. i'm guessing he's tried to use his pass, tried to tell them he cant (whatever), tried to tell them....and i'm guessing he was told the equivalent of tough noogies.

    and that's an awful feeling.

    did you ask him what would make school better for him? (guessing, "I don't know")

    its a question worth asking, and its worth asking what HIS solution for this year would be....other than to stop going. i'd whip out the all time fav trump card about it being the law as I was asking these questions---i'd make it abundantly clear that not going was not an option, regardless of what your online schooling search turns up.

    kids don't necessarily need physical school for socialization, or a formal social skills group...there are plenty of opportunities in the course of life. there may be homeschooling groups in your area that can guide you to organized events or help you with your state requirements for online/homeschool/whatever.

    but I would strongly caution you to think this through. i'm sure you can manage for the rest of the year, but you might be setting a precedent in his head that could become a don't want to worsen the anxiety.

    if you could pinpoint what exactly is the worst of it maybe you could switch teachers, find a resource room, switch to a short term modified day with increasing increments--week one, 2 classes, week 2, three, and so forth.

    but you need your team to help you both figure out a plan....that's probably step one.

    and FWIW, it was both a blessing and a curse with 6 classes/6 teachers....mine wasn't stuck all day one awful teacher, but believe it or not, socialization actually became much harder--there really isn't time to chitchat, and you may see one friend for one class and never see them again for the rest of the day. what was really a bonus was the educational opportunities---a wide variety of classes to meet needs, and engaging electives.

    this too shall pass ;-)
  7. jal

    jal Member

    Is he on any medications?

    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
  8. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    yes he has gotten "tough noogies" from school - and his answer about what would make school better is always "if it didn't exist". I have asked specific questions about every aspect and he hates all of it. Maybe with less time for socializing in Jr high, he won't notice he doesn't have many social connections??

    he just started strattera yesterday. He has tried almost every stimulant as well as Intuniv.