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10 year old son feeling sad/anxious


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#1 Anemonefish

Posted 15 July 2019 - 02:48 PM

My usually confident, happy Grade 5er has had a tough term 2 this year. He missed the first week of term due to a flu-like virus, then for most of the term he complained of sore legs (which I thought might be growing pains) or tiredness after school and didn't want to do his swimming or tennis lessons. Towards the end of term, we were chatting in the car after school one day, he asked me if you can die from depression, and then said he thinks he has depression. He said he'd been feeling sad about school and couldn't really pinpoint why. We talked about it again a couple more times and he told me he gets teased about being short on a daily basis, his classmates call him a midget a lot, but he said it didn't bother him before. He told me that he 'roasts them back' (his words) but one boy has put him in a headlock a couple of times and hurt his neck. When I mentioned the teasing to his teacher, she said he laughs along with them so she didn't think it bothered him, and when I mentioned the headlock, she said that the boys are at an age where they're being quite physical and boisterous with each other and he probably didn't mean to hurt my son. I was a bit annoyed at her response, but she was concerned and she had a general chat to the class about being kind to each other.

I had a gut feeling that it could be something physical so I took him to see a doctor and he had a blood test that showed low iron levels. He had also mentioned that he had had shortness of breath and he'd been feeling worried at bedtime in case he couldn't breathe in his sleep. The doctor said his iron levels were low enough to make him feel tired and sad, but not low enough to cause shortness of breath, and suggested it could be anxiety. He had anxiety in Grade 2 due to a very disrupted year with a teacher who was very ill and lots of different relief teachers, but it was different then, he would complain of stomach pains when we got to school. Now, the shortness of breath happens at random times, when he's having fun, often when he's been doing something active, i.e. at times when I don't think he'd be thinking about school. My hubby had asthma when he was younger, so we got a puffer for him to try and the couple of times he's had it, it makes him feel better. I guess it could be a placebo effect.

He's been taking a liquid iron supplement for the last 3 weeks and is feeling better, he's definitely not as fragile emotionally as he was when we had the chat about depression. First day back at school today though, and he managed to get out of going, he said wasn't feeling well this morning and his forehead felt hot, but he seems fine now, so I think he was feeling anxious this morning. He has promised to be brave and go to school every day this week. I explained that he needs to see how he feels about school now that he's been on the iron supplements and is feeling better. I told him that if he's still feeling sad about school at the end of this week, we'd go back to the doctor to get him a mental health plan. He's pretty open to going to see a counsellor, but for some weird reason I have this feeling that I've failed as a parent if he needs to see a counsellor at such a young age. I'm being totally silly, right?

Has anyone elses 10-12 year old gone through anything like this? I've been feeling quite stressed and worried about it and I just want my happy, confident kid back!

#2 OceanTwentyFour

Posted 15 July 2019 - 02:58 PM

I’m sorry your son is feeling this way. My recently turned 13 year old DS has suffered from anxiety throughout the years but it got really bad term 2 this year (first year of high school). I think he is also suffering some PTSD from his older brother’s brain tumour & subsequent issues.
We started with a counsellor but it got so bad we decided to try medication. He is on Lovan and the change has been wonderful. He still gets anxiety occasionally but is learning how to deal with it through his counselling sessions. He also has a teacher at school (his year 7 coordinator) who is aware of what’s going on and keeps an eye on him and chats to him when he is feeling overwhelmed.
I’ve also bought a book that has strategies to help kids with anxiety.
Edited to say you haven’t failed at all. Not helping him would be failing him but you are doing the best thing finding help for him.
Good luck, hope you find something to help him soon. It’s horrible seeing our kids like this and not knowing how to help.

Edited by OceanTwentyFour, 15 July 2019 - 03:01 PM.


#3 PandoBox

Posted 15 July 2019 - 06:30 PM

I think you need to look into activities to boost your sons confidence outside of school... and maybe enough so that he feels confident to stand up to these boys who make fun of him. Martial arts, other social activities...places where he will form friendships with boys who respect him and gains kills to stand up for himself.

I am not promoting fighting but I do think he should feel confident to defend himself if another boy his age does threaten him physically.

He is at the age where he needs to do this or they will get worse as he gets older and high school approaches.

To me it sounds like there is a bit more happening then him being called a midget and being headlocked.

#4 Ali1976

Posted 15 July 2019 - 08:50 PM

What a great mum you are. You are taking such wonderful care of your son.
I work in a school setting and am wondering if your son is able to access the school psychologist? Has this been offered to you by the school? The Assistant/ Deputy Principal is more than likely in charge of dealing with children at educational/ emotional/ social risk. Your child’s teacher could fill out the paperwork to get your son seen by the school psychologist. They may not be able to offer the weekly one-to-one care your son needs but they may be able to offer insights to care models and ways to access care that may be available for your son if needed.

#5 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 15 July 2019 - 09:15 PM

You have excelled, not failed.  You picked up that something wasn't right, and followed through.  He is comfortable enough to talk to you, And you have listened.  He knows you are taking it seriously.  

All of these things are signs of success, not failure.

We've been going through all this with our DS (now 14, started around 10).  It escalated to the extent that he was saying "I wish I didn't have to live anymore", acute therapy for him and some family therapy for us all to help us help him.  I was so scared that if he was saying those things at 10, he may be much worse when all the puberty hormones kicked in.

He is so much better now - but the biggest lesson for me has been that DS does 'laugh along' with the teasing and things that upset him.  He doesn't want to worry us or his teachers, doesn't want to stand out, so he just goes along with a lot, regardless of how he feels inside.  He still hasn't really found his voice to really stand up for himself.

At 14, he has much better resilience now, but still has very deep 'lows' that concern me.  They don't last long, but he can just be so so sad sometimes.

He goes for monthly sessions with his psych - and we can increase if we think we need to.  I'm open to medication but DH is still against it - I'm hoping that if the psych suggests it one day he might be more on board - but if the pysch doesn't think DS is there, maybe I'm overreacting to.

It's an ongoing, long road.  But it sounds like you are doing all the right things.  Go easy on yourself.

#6 Thursday

Posted 16 July 2019 - 09:09 AM

I understand the feeling of having let my child down in some way that they need help for their mental health. But I've realised that my child did need help and I helped them to get that help even though I didn't feel great about it myself, and that makes me the complete opposite of a failure as a parent.

It's great that your son can tell you some of his concerns & that he's open to seeing a councellor - again, you're obviously doing all the right things with him.

#7 Silver Girl

Posted 16 July 2019 - 10:50 AM

I read a quote from a psychologist that said bullying is most common in Grades 3 and 4 (around 10 years of age).

Psychologist Evelyn Field has a book called “Bully Blocking” that has strategies for kids to use.  The best approach is to be assertive.

For example, a child says to your child, “you’re fat”. Responses could include:

Passive: “I’m not fat!”
Aggressive: “And you’re stupid.”
Assertive (nonchalantly, looking them in the eye, not showing fear): “No I’m not, I have extra padding!”

Good luck, OP. It’s so hard to see our kids go through this. You sound like a wonderful, caring Mum.


#8 Anemonefish

Posted 16 July 2019 - 09:37 PM

Thank you all so much for your kind and helpfull replies, I really appreciate them, you have all made me feel so much better.

I messaged DS' teacher yesterday afternoon and told her I think he was anxious about the first day back at school. She said to remind him that he had PE and music (his favourite subjects) today and to encourage him to be brave. She also suggested that DS & I meet her for a chat this week, and that she's happy to do whatever it takes. He went to school with minimal drama today and was happy when he came home, which was such a relief to me! They're doing badminton in PE, something he's good at as we've been playing it at home, so that was a great confidence boost for him.

There is a counsellor at school, and DS' teacher was going to organise for him to see her at the end of last term, but it didn't work out. I'll remind his teacher about it when I see her. I think it will be good for him to learn some better strategies on how to cope with and respond to the comments about his height. I think a lot of the time people don't even realise that it's hurtful.

Re. martial arts, he did a couple of terms of taekwondo last year, but the friend he was going with stopped going and then he didn't want to go any more. He said at the time that he told a kid at school who was being mean to him that he knew taekwondo and that was enough to make him back off! So, I'll try and encourage him to try another class.

#9 annodam

Posted 17 July 2019 - 12:05 PM

Re the shortness of breath, it might not be a bad idea to get the Asthma thing checked out with the GP too especially given Asthma runs the family with your OH having it as a kid.
You don't wanna be messing around with puffers & the like in case he does have a mild form of Asthma.

If he's examined by the GP & he's in the clear, that's fantastic but if his shortness of breath is Anxiety related then at least you can focus on that.

If he does have Asthma, he'll need an Asthma Action Plan but at least you'll know one way or another...

#10 Anemonefish

Posted 17 July 2019 - 03:04 PM

His GP checked his chest and throat and said she didn't think he had asthma but when I asked about him trying a puffer, she said it wouldn't hurt and gave us a prescription for one. DH also said it doesn't seem like he has asthma because he doesn't wheeze, he just feels like it's hard to take a deep breath. He has only had a couple of puffs from it on 3-4 occasions over the last 3 weeks. We'll see how he goes in the next week or two and will book him into see the GP again if it continues.

#11 Etta

Posted 17 July 2019 - 03:34 PM

I have had low B12 at times as well as low iron. Low B12 can cause anxiety - having a B12 injection works like magic. It may be worth asking for this to be checked too.

#12 annodam

Posted 17 July 2019 - 05:00 PM

Not all Asthmatics wheeze though, it's called silent chest.

#13 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 23 July 2019 - 03:02 PM

If you think it's asthma, please use a spacer, and take him somewhere to actually learn good technique.  GPs are often not the best educators in this area.  The way most people do it (in the mouth and try to breathe in as you press down) does very little in the way of getting the medication where it needs to be - the lungs.

And yes, people with asthma do not always wheeze.  

Also - if he does have asthma, this can play a part in causing anxiety.  Feeling short of breath can make any of us anxious, even when we know the cause!

#14 Mollycoddle

Posted 23 July 2019 - 04:08 PM

I have had similar with my son.  Psychologist didn't work as he wouldn't talk.  We are on the list for mentoring in the hope that this might be more useful as it's hands-on and skills-building, we are on the waiting list for an organisation where they match the boys to men and they do outings etc together and large group activities eg. camps, outdoor stuff etc.  It's obviously not a mentor's role to deal with emotional issues but I feel that building his confidence in other areas will help his mental health and wellbeing overall.

Edited by Mollycoddle, 23 July 2019 - 04:09 PM.


#15 Anemonefish

Posted 31 July 2019 - 10:21 AM

View PostMollycoddle, on 23 July 2019 - 04:08 PM, said:

I have had similar with my son.  Psychologist didn't work as he wouldn't talk.  We are on the list for mentoring in the hope that this might be more useful as it's hands-on and skills-building, we are on the waiting list for an organisation where they match the boys to men and they do outings etc together and large group activities eg. camps, outdoor stuff etc.  It's obviously not a mentor's role to deal with emotional issues but I feel that building his confidence in other areas will help his mental health and wellbeing overall.
That sounds awesome, I hope your son gets into that program and it helps him.

#16 PrincessPeach

Posted 31 July 2019 - 10:41 AM

View PostAnemonefish, on 17 July 2019 - 03:04 PM, said:

His GP checked his chest and throat and said she didn't think he had asthma but when I asked about him trying a puffer, she said it wouldn't hurt and gave us a prescription for one. DH also said it doesn't seem like he has asthma because he doesn't wheeze, he just feels like it's hard to take a deep breath. He has only had a couple of puffs from it on 3-4 occasions over the last 3 weeks. We'll see how he goes in the next week or two and will book him into see the GP again if it continues.

My little asthmatic has a totally clear chest, until he is actually having an attack & then it sounds wheezy. He also doesn't audiably wheeze until it's bascially to late for ventolin to do anything - if we've missed that boat it's at least a 2 night hospital stay to get him stable again.

The GP really should have done a sporometry test to confirm if it is asthma or not, at 10 he is more than old enough to complete that test (5 is the youngest they will do them from).




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