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Anxiety and Depression Support
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Anxious child refusing to go to school.

Hi, guys.

I have an 11 year old son who has just started Secondary school. he has Anxiety, but was getting on reasonable ok, but now he has started saying that he doesn't want to go to school. He is very bright so doesn't struggle with lessons. I think one thing that might be causing an issue, is if they don't do home work they get a detention, my son couldn't do his maths, as its online and he forgot his password. so now he is stressing over getting a detention. I know they have to had out detentions, but feel when its just a forgotten password, this is a bit harsh. it would help if they let first years get settled into secondary school life first, say 6 months, then start with detentions. Another thing is they are under pressure to get dressed after PE, then get to the next class, which if they get to class late they get detention! I can understand been late to class, but they get detention if they are only like 2 minutes late, I know they are preparing kids for adult life, but which job requires you to get changed from one uniform to another in 10 minutes?

I have phoned his school to arrange a meeting, but would like some advice on things I can do to help. I didn't like school, I got bullied a lot, it made my life miserable and not very nice for a long time, even after school had finished, school had knocked my confidence for six, I don't want my son to have this as he could do very well as he is great at maths.

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My parents stopped following my studies in 7th grade (at age 14). I did VERY well still.

So teach your son that there is no failures. Only opportunity to learn.

High expectations from parents sometimes is a problem. I have seen things like this. But I also saw that the kids eventually become as smart as nature intended, no matter if they were left alone or carefully steered. So take a chance sometimes and explain to your child that he is already doing ok and that there is literally nothing to fear.

He perhaps will become the president exactly because he will rebel against his school system later.

Also have you considered he gets bullied? Kids usually never tell about it. Dont try to mend the situation as a parent if so, rather make the kid join sports team, where he'll get strong and self assured and will repel problems himself.

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Hi, yes he has been bullied. He went to join the football team which he loves, but didn't make the grade. Which knocked his confidence. I don't put pressure on him, to do well, I have to pressure him to go to school as he has stopped wanting to go.

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My daughter does the same thing. She won’t want to go to school- this hurts, i feel sick etc. the first time it happened, it went on a long time and she kept visiting the nurse. I kept trying to talk to her and finally got it out of her that a boy was making fun of her. If your son is opening up to you about the detention issue and you know that is why, it sounds like you’re doing the right thing. If you’re not sure, you could dig a little deeper.

You’re a really great mom. Your son is lucky to have you.

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I there a school counselor that you can meet with? Would that help?

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Yes that would be great, seen as his school haven't phoned back to arrange a meeting.

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My eldest daughter used to have a problem with getting detentions in year 7 for not handing in homework when the system was down, a lot of her homework is done on computer. At her school, they are encouraged to contact their teachers by email if they have any issues. Do they have anything like that in place at your son's school? If not, perhaps you could ask for his form tutors email address so you can contact them with this sort of thing and also general communication about how your son is feeling?

That's pretty poor that they haven't got back to you about that meeting, it doesn't exactly inspire much confidence in their approach to pastoral care does it? Are you happy with the school overall, what did the latest inspection report have to say and what seems to be the general consensus about the school locally? Was he bullied at primary school or his new school? Sorry about the Spanish inquisition! Just trying to get a feel for the bigger picture.

My eldest is very bright but used to struggle socially until she realised she was on the autism spectrum and got her diagnosed aged 12. That's not necessarily the case with your son but whether it's that or something else, it's good to know what you're dealing with so you know how to approach the problem. She goes to an academically selective private school with a lot of very well to do kids but we're not posh or rich so that's a bit of a social barrier. I applied for financial assistance and after a very intrusive visit from one of their associates to my home, rifling through my bank statements and bills, the financial assistance was granted.

I don't know if that's something you'd consider, but it's one option. Those kinds of schools do tend to be pretty on the ball with bullying, kids who need a bit of extra support etc. Might be worth looking into. I think my daughter would have been a school refuser by now (age 15, year 10) and so does she, without the support she gets but as it is she's thriving academically and coping socially.

Apparently kids who are bullied are more likely to develop their confidence by doing drama. I don't know how many 11 year old boys are into that kind of thing but if he's interested it might be worth a try. He might also make friends with common interests if he gets involved in extra curricular activities.

Good luck, I hope he gets past this difficult time one way or another x

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I absolutely hated going to secondary school 😔 this is where I lost all my self esteem. For such an anxious child it was just such a scary world where kids could be so mean. Also you get kids that are as old as 16/17 and to a 10 year old its so intimidating. Fitting in and making friends was also to pressuring for me. Bullying could also be the reason unfortunately .

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This phase of development for kids can be difficult as they are maturing out of childhood. Is your son's anxiety a diagnosis or is it due to the new school level? I love that you are involved. Your son knowing you're there for him is very important. As far as having to adjust to more strict policies, could you help him come up with strategies? Maybe give him an index card to write down his passwords (and keep it safe) so he has it at all times. I had to learn to change quickly in a pinch of time for P.E. in secondary school, as well. I had to organize and plan and that helped a ton. Maybe you could have him practice at home? This worked great for my kids...it gave them the challenge AND satisfaction to solve the problem. It's still good to get the perspective from the school (I often found I did not have the whole story), while encouraging responsibility and growth at the same time, until getting to the root. Hoping the remainder of the year goes much better for you & your son!

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My son developed Anxiety in primary school. When the taught the plague subject. At first I didn't know it was anxiety, but he kept been sick at school, do he was sent home, once at home he was fine. Then I found out they were teaching the plague on the days he was sick. I self diagnosed anxiety and the doctor agreed. Even now years later he freeze's when the plague is mentioned. He doesn't like goasts, the dark, blood anything to do with Halloween.

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Did the Dr recommend a counselor? If not, is that something you would consider for him? One of my children was afraid of those things and it was stressful. I just had to find some ways to help her cope with her fears until she was mature enough to understand on her own. Kids views of things can be skewed because they aren't developmentally able to comprehend from an adult perspective. It can be different child to child? A lot of schools have a counselor for the students. Does your son's school provide that service?

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