Back to school Part 2 - He's still suffering from school anxiety...

@miamilady (4924)
United States
August 25, 2009 1:26pm CST
Last week my daughter went back to school. This week my son went back to school. School is a hugely different experience for each of them. For my daughter, it's a place where she looks forward to going. She enjoys her friends. She enjoys most of her teachers. Her grades are mediocre at best, but she does enjoy being there. My son dreads school. And that is an understatement. He actually fears school. It is somewhat unusual for a child his age (he's almost 14). But it isn't as uncommon as you might think. I've spend HOURS researching the subject of school anxiety. At the end of last summer I requested that he be put on a 504 plan. I am taking things one day at a time. He "survived" his first day. With assurance from me that I would "stay in the area" (his school is a bit of a distance from our home). This morning (his second day back to school) was a little more difficult. He did stay. I had to bring him to his school counselor, who is an amazing person and a guardian angel of sorts. He called to check in with me during lunch (he left his lunch money in the car). He sounded "okay". I hope that things get better, but only time will tell. Have you ever heard of "school anxiety"? There are other names (or degrees) of this type of behavior. Some call it "school phobia", it is also referred to as "school avoidance".
7 responses
@DavidReedy (2411)
• United States
25 Aug 09
I've read about this in a few scholarly articles, it is real, although I'd suggest that the use of "school" is an unneccesary nomenclature--it amounts to, in reality, a kind of social phobia/social anxiety. There are treatments and meds (I opt, myself for non-pharmaceutical intervention myself) but you'd want to get the opinions of some practicioners, not anything you hear from us mensch. peace, dr...
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
26 Aug 09
I'm pretty familiar now, with most forms of anxieties and phobias. His anxiety (which almost borders on phobia) is directly related to school. He's just fine in about every other type of social situation. He's struggled with this for years, but last year was his worst year. I did consult with quite a few people about this. The most helpful thing for him was 1 - we enrolled him in a child anxiety program and 2- He as a couselor at his school that is a Godsend. I could probably write a book about the experience, to be honest. It is much more complex than most people realize. On this topic, I use myLot as a place to "vent" and also to hear from people who have experienced or are aware of school anxiety. In addition to consulting psychologists, a psychiatrist and an ton of other people, I have spent many many hours researching the subject online. As a parent of a child with school anxiety, I am extremley interested in hearing others experiences on this topic.
• United States
29 Aug 09
I'm curious, too, as to your take, and others' take on it as well. "School Phobia" like any other phobia, (agoraphobia comes to mind) is such a broad term, that to an extent serves its purpose, but leaves much to the imagination... Have you been able to boil down the specifics: Is it social phobia? Is it a performance-based fear? What kind of steps have you all taken--and what has shown progress?
• United States
22 Sep 09
Thank you much for the elaboration--now that it's put in perspective it's easy to see, the association of the place/situation (school) with all of those fears. As of yet, have you learned or received from any kind of counselor any real enlightening of helpful, proceedures/therapies/directions to take?
@mentalward (14697)
• United States
25 Aug 09
Not only have I heard of it, but my oldest son suffered from it. He would cry almost every morning because he did not want to go to school. For him, I knew the cause. The area we lived in when he began high school was a bit rough. I'm talking pre-criminals or, more likely, more kids than not who went to this school already had police records. My son wears his heart on his sleeve; always has. He's caring and sensitive. He feared a lot of the boys in his school, and with good reason, I might add. This school had a reputation for trouble. He was constantly teased. He was punched once, knocking him into a desk and onto the floor and, unfortunately, he had to go to court as a witness for the school system that brought charges against the bully. It seems that my son was his other kid's 19th assault charge! Fortunately, that delinquent was sent directly to juvenile hall from the courtroom. This was the norm for that school. My son was an honor student in elementary school. His grades began to drop as he entered middle school, then got even worse in high school. I made a long-thought-out decision, after talking with him, to pull him out of school in the tenth grade. He was learning very little. He was frightened all the time. I got him signed up for private classes, then he took the G.E.D. exam and passed with flying colors. My son is quite intelligent and was much happier getting his diploma that way than going through two more years of nightmares. (He was 16 when I took him out of public school.) I had thought about home schooling for him but had no idea how to go about it. Also, I had to work outside the home at that time so I thought it would be better to handle things the way I did and it worked out great. After he got his G.E.D., he got a job and was extremely happy and much less insecure about himself. It has been awhile but he's now ready to go back to school. He announced this to me last week. I've been telling him that, when he's ready, I would do everything I could to make sure he's able to continue his education. I don't regret the way I handled his high school situation one bit. He simply would not have survived in that school.
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
26 Aug 09
Thanks for your reply. I know there are more kids out there with this problem than most people realize (or want to admit). My son wants, very much to go to the private school that my daughter attends, for high school. We are going to do everything in our power to make that happen. I may be going back to work sometime this year. Right now I am just waiting to see how things go for him at the beginning of this year. I was also told about the possiblity of finding a scholarship program that would help us to pay for his attending a private school. It's amazing how quick people are to judge. You mentioned GED and I was reminded of my sister making a comment about a friend of hers who allowed her child to drop out of school. Sometimes we don't know the whole picture of what is going on in someone's life and what they had to consider when making their choices. I understanding your decision completely. Unfortunately, school is not the best environment for everyone. There is "alternative education" but those have their drawbacks too.
@mentalward (14697)
• United States
26 Aug 09
That's very true, we don't know the whole story unless it's told to us. We had a plan in place before pulling my son out of school. He knew that it wasn't the end of his education and he was to work hard to get his G.E.D. before he thought of anything else. He was still 16 when he got his G.E.D., two years before he would have graduated. I think that is what did more for his self-esteem than anything else. Allowing a child to just drop out of school because they don't like it or they're bored with it is not right. I insisted that he get his G.E.D. It was part of the bargain. I don't think that insisting that a child stay in school when they are terrified of it is the right way to go about it. I say that only from my own experience. My son wasn't learning anything. He would make all kinds of excuses to stay home from school, usually saying that he was sick even when he wasn't. But, the thought of going to school actually did make him sick quite often. That's no way to learn anything. Every child is different and each case should be handled (and judged) individually, to find the best course of action for each child. I wish you much luck in getting your son into the private school, if that's what it comes to. My sons were both in a private pre- and elementary school but it closed down and I couldn't afford any other private school. The rates were just too high for me. (I was a single parent and my ex was refusing to pay child support at the time.) Aren't the joys of parenthood fun sometimes? My best to you and your son!
• Japan
28 Aug 09
Hi I am so sorry that your son is going through this. I have been where you are now, my 2nd son has school anxiety caused by bullying from a young age. The bullying got so bad that at one point a patch of his hair turned white!!! He treid a different junior high school to the ones where the bulllys attended but because he missed so much elementary school he couldn't deal with JHS. So the anxiety, to the point of cutting his arms started up again. We got lucky in finding a city run alternative school, where the teachers and staff took time to help him, he is back at school now but not very happy, so I am not looking forward to September 1st. Also it looks like I will be going through the same thing with my 4th child as well. I am gald that you have a school counselor that can help. One idea is to have a "safe place" in school where your son could go to. If the counselor has an office maybe when your sons anxiety is too high he could go there to calm himself to face the next hour. Also reasure your son that he is okay, as you know teens are afraid of being different. Because your son has anxiety he may feel very different to his more "cool" classmates. This is tough but he will get through it. Good luck with this coming week.
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
15 Sep 09
Finding a "safe place" for him has been a huge ordeal at times. Unfortunately, despite his conselors amazing cooperation and help, not everyone in the school is quite as understanding. I've had issues with the administration as well as with the office staff that works outside his counselors office.
• United States
25 Aug 09
I think there is more going on at that school than you are aware of. I would certainly check a little (lot) closer, to find out exactly what is happening, that you don't know about.
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
26 Aug 09
There is definitely a lot going on at the school. I have checked. Some of his fear he can't quite explain, but from what I know about his school experiences and life experiences I think his axiety is a result of a number of incidents combined with his "nature". Thanks for your reply.
@Shar19 (8236)
• United States
25 Aug 09
I have definitely heard of school anxiety because I had it when I was a kid. It started when I was young in grade school. I always wanted to be with my mom. Never knew why though until I got older that it was anxiety. When I started going to middle school and high school I would purposely walk slow to the bus stop so that I would miss the bus. Mom and dad didn't think it was too funny though. They would have to drive me to school and later they would make me walk to school when I pulled that stunt. Can't blame them really. My daughter started first grade last year and I think she also had anxiety. She got sick in school a couple of times and then was terrified to go to school after that. She always thought she was going to get sick in school. This lasted about three months and then she seemed to do so much better. I'm hoping that when she starts school this season that we don't have a repeat of last year. There are so many different types of anxieties and phobias out there. It's very possible that your son will have anxiety problems throughout his adult life too. I wasn't diagnosed with anxiety until I was 27 by a doctor.
@miamilady (4924)
• United States
25 Aug 09
I did manage to find a great anxiety program for him last year. It helped us a lot. Gave us a lot of ideas on how to deal with some of his anxiety. But I think your right. I think some level of anxiety may stay with him througout his life. I hope not, but it might. I think it's just something he has to learn to "manage". It's been a tough thing to experience. Finding educators who are understanding about this has been a challenge.
@williamjisir (22904)
• China
15 Sep 09
Hello miamilady. I think that it is better to analyse the cause of your son's suffering from school anxiety. If it is figured out, it will be much easier for you to help him out of the phobia. Good luck to you, my dear friend.
@celticeagle (117837)
• Boise, Idaho
26 Aug 09
Sure I have heard of school anxiety. Every kid I know has it and for different reasons. It is pretty common from what I see and hear. Everyone is sensitive to different things and react in life accordingly. If you don't make a big deal about it and just trying to be understanding and loving in this time I bet it will go over well.