My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

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My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

My 12 year old has just started year 7 at high school. Her first day was nerve wracking but she had a great day. Second day she came home at lunch time feeling sick and hasn’t been back yet. Full of anxiety and ‘fear’ for a range of reasons... too shy to approach anyone, doesn’t know where rooms are, all the new changes in her life, dealing with her chronic illness and to top it off she got her period on day 1.
Every morning she’s gagging feeling so sick. We got her in the car the other day and drove to school but couldn’t get her out. Hyperventilating vomiting... were working on a plan for gradual exposure and this morning she was meant to just get ready and we’d just drive past school without going in but she’s doubled over feeling sick. We feel so worried and school are great and ready to help once we get her there but that ain’t happening yet. Any suggestions? I think time for psychologist help.

Community Manager

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

Hi there @Jac_a_T and welcome to the forums – so happy you found us here!


It sounds like such a tough time for your daughter (and your whole family) to be dealing with right now and as a parent whose teen is also starting high school right now I completely get the demands and added stress that is placed on our kids during this huge period of change for them and my heart truly goes out to all of you.


It seems, from reading your post, that there are factors at play for your daughter that is making this transition especially hard for her like her illness and anxiety around the brand new social environment and the day-to-day logistics of being a high-schooler.


In saying that, what also shines through from your post is how caring, loving and supportive you have been through all of this.  The things that you have been doing to help your daughter (from the gradual exposure, to conversations with the school) are really beautiful and I’m sure that the caring, safe and supportive home environment that you are creating is providing her with some levels of comfort during this.


I love that you are considering seeking counselling for your daughter.  I think that a conversation with your GP is a really positive first step to take.  They will be able to talk you through what options are available to your family.  Have you had any conversations with your daughter about taking this step – does she seem receptive to the idea?


Finally, I was wondering if you had seen this article on the ReachOut site.  There are some wonderful tips in there at the end of the page that might give you inspiration for additional things to try as well as helping to prepare you for a conversation with your GP.


Many of our amazing, gorgeous and supportive community members have had similar experiences so I am going to loop in @taokat @motherbear and @Zoesplace to get their take on this.

Active scribe

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

Thank you Nick-RO for your kind words. Takes away the guilt when you get supportive feedback.
Our girl was pro-active today in making up a tick chart /calendar for the next few weeks. She’s desperate to get to school on Monday so this tick chart may be an incentive to help her get there with an rewards along the way. I suggested perhaps a classmate could come over on Sunday for a swim and she said yes!
These are positive little signs she wants to get back to school so hopefully she gets there for at least one day next week.
Thank you for the link btw, great tips on there we can look into.
Parent Peer Supporter

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

Hi @Jac_a_T, welcome to the forum, and thank you for sharing with us. I really feel for your daughter and I'm so sorry to hear she is suffering like this. What an absolute trooper your daughter is to be so pro-active and determined, so fingers crossed for Monday! 


Do they have a buddy system at her high school? It'd be great if she could hook up with a senior student who could meet her at the front gate in the morning and look out for her at school. Do you think something like that might help get her there?


I become anxious going anywhere new, and find it really helps me to prepare beforehand. Could you get a map of the school and your daughter's timetable and mark it all out on the map so it's clear where she needs to go? You could even write directions for her to follow. That might help with her fear of getting around the school.


That's so great she was keen for a friend to visit! I hope they had fun and it's given your daughter a little more confidence for getting to school tomorrow. 


Your support and love for your daughter is so evident throughout your posts, and that is a really strong base for your daughter to work from. She couldn't ask for more Smiley Happy

Active scribe

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

Thank you for your kind words. And your suggestions are great ideas, I’ll keep in mind for sure. Her teacher is going to set her up with a buddy who can show her to classrooms she’s unsure of etc. and a part time program could also be an option suggested to us by the school. We shall see.
After a great day with her school friend miss 12 was not so nervous tonight... fingers crossed for the morning.
Parent Peer Supporter

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

That all sounds so positive @Jac_a_T which is awesome. Having a friend can make such a difference. 


Best wishes for tomorrow! You'll have to let us know how she goes Smiley Happy

Active scribe

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

No luck today. Quite scared this morning. Not nerves, more fear than anything. Will talk tonight about plan for morning and try again.
Annoying thing is that all child psychologists in our area are booked out for weeks in advance Smiley Sad how sad is that!
Parent Peer Supporter

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

Hey @Jac_a_T, I'm sorry to hear your daughter didn't make it on Monday. The poor thing, it's horrible being that paralysed by fear.


How did you go with a plan for today? 


It must be so frustrating not being able to access the services you need right now. Are there any services at your local hospital? My daughter sees the CYHMS team at our public hospital, and they can get her in in an emergency which is really handy. That might worth checking out.



Casual scribe

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

I feel your pain .the same thing is happening with our 12 yr old .today stomach cramps so staying home from school .she is behind in homework forgets her diary. We have an appointment with child pyschologist im may .thats the earliest we can get in .just worried what to do in the meantime

Re: My 12 yr old daughter is terrified starting high school

Hi Jac and Others,


It can be anxiety provoking for the parents/carers as well as the student when they don't go to school.


The good news is that you are on the right track and doing everything possible to assist your daughter.


The one suggestion I can make is that you stay calm and accepting of the situation for what it is at the moment. Getting stressed yourself about your daughters school refusal can make the situation worse. Im not suggesting you are doing this at all but it has just bought back memories of when my own son refused to attend school. His anxiety was so overwhelming that he couldn't bring himself to go. 


I used to get really concerned (and still do sometimes) about all the education he was missing out on, however, in hindsight I realise now that mental health and happiness is more important. There are also alternatives to mainstream education.


But you are taking immediate action which is commendable! Sorry that you are unable to get into seeing a psychologist for a while......just do all the reading you can in the meantime......check in with the school counsellor and maybe another visit to the GP wouldn't go astray. Also continue with encouraging friendships for your daughter.


You shall get through this difficult time. With support and assistance your daughter shall get through this struggle too. This is an issue that a lot of us parents/carers/students have been through and it can help to not feel so alone with it all.


Has your daughter tried listening to a relaxation app? There are many available (such as "calm") and this could help her to deal with the anxiety (until she sees a psychologist).


All the best. Keep using this forum to ventilate.