01-29-2021 03:38 PM - last edited on 02-05-2021 12:30 PM by Hannah-RO
I am deeply concerned about my son. He just turned 13 this month and started high school this week. He has good friends, plays sport once a week and is a kind and courteous boy.
First day of school appeared to go well, however, since then he has begun vomiting in the mornings, I managed to get him to school at midday on the second day and he stayed for the last 3 hours without issue.
This morning on the way to school, his tell-tale signs began to appear; feeling suddenly hot and nauseous then vomited. He was able to compose himself and go to class. An hour and a half later the school rang to say he was vomiting again so I had to collect him, he was fine once home.
Frustratingly, he cannot pinpoint what is bothering him, he says he's not worried about school or the big changes that come with high school.
I'm so stressed that he is missing the first important days of high school and has missed out on crucial information. I just don't know how to help him when he cannot articulate what is troubling him.
Any advice would be appreciated.
01-29-2021 04:11 PM
I can understand this must be really concerning for you, thanks for reaching out for some support and sharing what's been going on for you.
This must be so horrible for your son, have you been able to see a GP with him about this?
A GP is often a good point to start as they will be able to offer you a variety of supports and try to work out what is going on for him.
Starting high school is such a tough time for any child, does your son have other things he looks forward to like extra-curricular activities? Sometimes having a sport or creative pursuit can really help with adjusting to changes, this article here also has some great tips in it about starting school.
Let us know how you're getting on
01-31-2021 04:44 PM
We deal with anxiety issues in our family as well as stomach aches, nausea and I also had trouble with this myself especially when I was about 11.
The first thing that struck me reading your post, was your own anxiety about your son missing school at the start of high school and how he was going to manage with the start of high school. This is understandable, especially if your son has anxiety and if he's perhaps starting at a new school where he doesn't know many people. However, it's important to address your own anxiety, and try to in effect turn it around so you can feel more positive and encouraging in yourself before you are truly able to encourage your son.
In your message, you also said he was fine and "He has good friends, plays sport once a week and is a kind and courteous boy."
That sounds really good. So, perhaps this is just a short term blip and everything's going to be okay. He might also have a bug.
I'd also suggest having a chat to his form room teacher. It's always good to have a good connection with the school, and you never know when you're going to need it. My kids are now in Year 12 and year 10. Our son in Year 12 has anxiety issues and misses a reasonable amount of school, which I'm not happy about. We got to know the teachers at the school as issues cropped up periodically with him. Our daughter seemed to be coasting along and we hadn't been up the school at all for her aside from parent-teacher nights. However, that changed at the end of last year and I was hugely grateful they already knew us and it enabled them to be firm with her but they also gave her a bit of grace.
Our family has been through a lot and I recall my husband telling me that I was conveying a lot of worry in my face to our son and I needed to pull back.
I hope this helps.
01-31-2021 05:05 PM
01-31-2021 06:52 PM
Be kind to yourself. That's the beginning.
I think the ideal with anyone experiencing anxiety is to be able to self-soothe. This would include things like slowly your breathing down. You hear people talk about going to your happy place. I went to the dentist recently and found myself reflecting back on floating on a saltwater pool in WA near Monkey Mia which is almost as salty as the Dead Sea. It wasn't a conscious decision but that's where I went and my dentist even commented on how I made a filling in a tricky spot much easier. It's taken awhile to get to that point. People have always suggested I do meditation and I couldn't sit still for very long. However, I'm very interested in photography and that involves focusing on a point which is a meditation technique. So, there are different ways to skin a cat.
Breaking a task down into small steps is something I do with myself and the kids. Success breeds success. Breaking things down helps to prevent becoming overwhelmed.
Perfectionism is a huge issue in our household. My daughter is training towards becoming a ballerina and our son wants to be a sound engineer which also requires absolute perfection. Avoidance seems to be a very close friend of perfectionism.
My son did an anxiety course in primary school, and they worked on their breathing and breathing from the diaphragm and watching their stomach rise up and down instead of rapid shallow breathing which leads to hyperventilation and light-headedness.
Information can also reduce anxiety.
I hope this helps.
02-02-2021 04:50 PM
@Birdwings I think that those are such insightful and important insights into what it's like to both experience anxiety yourself, and being a parent of an anxious child. I can definitely strongly identify with both of those things!
Teaching our kids and ourselves to self soothe is such a hugely valuable skill to have. I'm also the parent of a child who experiences quite a lot of anxiety at times, we did a program with her called Cool Kids which I can highly recommend (it's also offered online if you'd be interested @Nivea ) - it taught a lot of skills to help manage anxiety, both in self soothing/ learning techniques like breathing slowly into the diaphragm, learning how to question their anxious thoughts, and also starting to slowly work up to facing things that make them anxious. The cycle of avoiding things that make you anxious, then finding they become more scary in your mind ( it's also something I found was linked to perfectionism @Birdwings !) can be a viscious cycle to be stuck in - this was a really good way to start to learn how to safely make mistakes and work up to things that are scarier.
@Birdwings I love that you've found visualisations and ways to focus that work for you, where traditional meditation may not have been your thing- I'm not always great at mindfulness, but I've found walking mindfulness meditations to be really good, especially if I can get away for a bushwalk or something.
@Nivea if you think that your son might like to try some self help strategies, we have a page of resources here to help parents support their teenagers in learning coping skills managing anxiety. There's a couple of great apps that can be really helpful in helping to learn some skills, I've copied a few over here for you:
Physical symptoms of anxiety include rapid, shallow breathing and hyperventilation. These symptoms can sometimes trigger panic attacks. Try teaching your teenager some breathing exercises to help immediately reduce their anxiety symptoms and calm them down. For example, try the 'long exhale':
Your teen could also use ReachOut Breathe, an app designed to help young people control their breathing and manage the symptoms of anxiety.
Going for a walk or doing light exercise
This can help to distract the mind and manage the physical symptoms of anxiety and stress. It’s also an opportunity to take a break from whatever is making your teen anxious.
Writing down worries
Writing down your worries and setting aside a designated time to come back to them is a technique used in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and can help ensure that excessive worrying – which can lead to anxiety – doesn’t take over someone’s life. ReachOut has developed an app called WorryTime to guide young people through the process.
Meditation and mindfulness
These tools teach you how to focus on the present, instead of worrying about things in the past or the future. Smiling Mind is an app designed to teach young people mindfulness meditation, a technique that has been shown to help with anxiety.
How has your son gone with school this week @Nivea ? Do you think he'd be willing to give any of these things a try?
02-04-2021 12:45 AM
It's hard to watch them go through things and not have the answers.
Don't stress over what he is missing. There is room to catch up.
Certainly see a GP if it continues.
When my children are experiencing stress or anxiety without drawing attention to it I ask them to come and do things with me (walking, or cafe's after school pick ups to talk about their days would be semi regular). Anything that includes talking or exercise really (to give them the opportunity to vent or think through their worries).