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  • SGCmum
    Posts: 84
    Hi. I know some people who post on here have children the same age, or older then mine, and I'm hoping for advice, or just reassurance. My daughter has just moved into secondary school, and in recent months her anxiety and demand avoidance have escalated. Some days she hasn't made it into school, despite trying really hard. Twice the school have called me to pick her up as she is visibly anxious. At school she is nauseous, hylerventilates, and has other physical symptoms. At home she is also very aggressive at times. She has had a camhs assessment and will have some kind of therapy for the anxiety. PDA not mentioned yet, but this is my theory. The biggest problem is homework. She would just about manage at primary school, but now she just can't cope at all. She is terrified of getting a detention, but obviously that doesn't help her to get the work done. She will say she wants to do it, she just can'the can't explain why. And she'll spend huge amounts of time putting it off but not actually doing anything else. It is causing problem for the while family, as she isn't quiet when she is anxious! We have ended up doing a fair bit for her, if we know she is capable of the work, but just overwhelmed by it. This feels wrong, but I truly believe if we didn't, and she get detentions, she would be more anxious than ever, but still not able to do subsequent homework. The school are aware of her anxiety, but my daughter doesn't want any special treatment as people will notice. Any thoughts at all would be much appreciated.
  • Hi, my daughter is 13 and things really fell apart for her when she got to secondary school. She too had managed primary but the pressures of secondary were too much. I think you’re doing the right thing supporting her with homework and also letting her stay at home if she needs to. My daughter started school refusing in year 7 and we kept making her go in. It led to a total breakdown and she hasn’t been at school for 18 months... Is the school SENCO involved? I’d push for some adjustments for your daughter from school if possible. Maybe she could have a card she could show the teacher to leave lessons if things are too much? Maybe they could also be flexible about homework? Could she have a safe person/place to go to if she feels anxious? These are a few ideas we came up with for my daughter if she went back to school. Really feel for you as I know how hard it is xx
  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,136
    Hi SGCmum, as suggesged by Rubytuesday I would really encourage you to speak to the school Senco and see if they can collaboratively agree some adjustments with your daughter which wouldn't make her feel others are noticing! They sound like they are aware of her anxiety so hopefully they will want to help as much as possible.

    This isn't quite the same, however my eldest daughter didn't initially want her friends to know that she had dyslexia and needed additional time and IT equipment to help in the lessons. However after a carefully constructed conversation with the school Senco she now readily accepts the help and understands that there are many others in the school that feel the same as her. Hopefully your school would be prepared to help discuss things too.

    This is a link to the education pages which may also be helpful to share with school.
  • June67
    Posts: 806
    Hi I agree the homework worries are a huge problem but you have to make sure it's not your anxiety about her getting it done she's picking up on. My youngest has moved to secondary school this year too. We have been very lucky that he has made some 'friends' and has found a couple of subjects he enjoys so he isn't quite so reluctant to go as he was in primary school, only one refusal day so far with a minor toe injury as the excuse.
    I was really worried about the homework as he really struggled to complete the little bit of homework he got at primary school. As his brother is already at his new school I was aware of how much more they get. It is very hard to get him to do anything if he isn't ready. About two weeks after he started he told me that every time I remind him or ask about homework it makes him worried he can't do it and he puts it off and he can't start anything. I told him I didn't want to put pressure on him but it's my job as a parent to make sure he does his homework. We agreed I could remind him once a day then trust him to chose when to do it and give him any help he needed. Reducing my stress about doing my 'duty' and trusting him to get it done seems to have helped for the most part, plus having his brother as a role model who gets it done. We had to do similar support and scaffolding for the older one (Asperger's) to cope and develop independence in now trying most things. Reassuring him whatever he does is good enough and that we believe he can do it and trusting him to do it seem to be the things that work for him.
    So far he has managed to get most things done with help, although it is awful sometimes when he leaves lots until 10pm so he can't avoid things anymore and he's tried. Sometimes I have typed what he has said to help him speed up but at least he has been involved or we have supported him with where to begin with research etc. Sometimes he is so worried we just have to distract him, move on to something else or leave it 'til later. You need to try to unpick what is actually causing the problem it will be different for each child and task. We have to accept what he chooses to do or not do, it may not always be the best quality work but he gets something done most of the time. Small rewards for completing parts and lots of breaks seem to help, let's do this bit then have a biscuit or watch the next video on your list etc. seems to reduce the stress and we get it done somehow. He has the control, however infuriating it is to have a whole weekend free to do things and still be starting late on a Sunday evening. He does seem to be gradually be starting things a bit earlier himself.
    Sometimes it's his fear that he doesn't understand the task or won't be able to do it is the thing that hold him back, having my own access to the tasks through the school's computer homework setting programme means I can get ahead of him a bit and hopefully provide the support he needs if he'll accept it.
    We have already been in touch with the school, without his knowledge, about how he might not always be able to complete things or arrive at school on time due to his anxiety and PDA they have been supportive and understanding waiving late detentions for both boys if I call and explain but not giving them a 'get away with it all the time' choice. School have said we can 'like any other parent' write a note on any homework that he has been unable to finish after 30minutes to say he's tried his best. So far we haven't had to use this but I'm sure the time will come.
  • SGCmum
    Posts: 84
    Thank you so much for all your advice. I think asking for senco involvement is a good idea, hadn't thought of that. The link for schools is useful. It has also given me the confidence to keep supporting her in the rather unconventional way we are doing. I think I prob have been mentioning the homework too much, despite trying to use humour, be subtle etc. My sole motivation was to avoid the immense anxiety she would feel if she got a detention, but I hadn't realised quite how much I was placing demands on her. Will pull back a bit and see how it goes.
  • Holly59
    Posts: 2,586
    I totally agree with this article . The main issue is to keep the child in Education. If it’s done fair enough , if not that’s fine too . No pressure on the child .
  • June67
    Posts: 806
    I agree homework shouldn't be the massive thing it is all children deserve the time to have a childhood even when they are teenagers. The issues with children's mental health we see currently in the media are a result of the undue stress put on children and families to tick boxes for achievement and working 24/7, pushing parents to go out to work long hours to pay expensive housing prices so they are to exhausted to parent when they get home and rely on electronic gadgets to keep their kids quiet instead. Throw in the fact that our kids are less able to cope with all of this and we can see why their stress and anxiety levels go up. It's hard enough for 'normal' families.

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