How can I help my son with General Anxiety Disorder?

Liza - posted on 11/18/2011 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My son has been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. It started at age 4 with his irrational fear that the building he was in was going to crumble if he was on any floor but the ground level. (Fear of heights) He would go as far as to hold onto the walls until we got on the ground again.
Now That he's 10, his fears are mostly socially related. His dad and I are divorced and he is supposed to spend equal time with each of us. He often asks questions like "Do you hate me sometimes?", "Do you still love me?" and tells me that his dad and sibilings at dad's don't love him. If his best friend doesn't talk to him because he is busy, he gets really depressed and sulks about saying nobody likes him.
I try to reassure my son that he is a smart, great kid and I love him and so does his dad. The closer we get to puberty, the more concerned I am because adolescents with GAD have a high rate of suicide during puberty. How can I help my son with his anxiety without putting him on medication?

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Katherine - posted on 11/18/2011

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Have you done therapy? Children with GAD may feel they have no choice but to worry, they are taught that there is a choice. For kids with GAD, their first thought tends to be "what's the worst thing that could happen in this situation?," retraining them to look for their second thought "what's the most likely thing I believe will happen in this situation?" will bring risky situations down to size and make them immediately more approachable. By identifying how the mind is playing tricks on them by catastrophizing, racing ahead, and bombarding them with warnings that are meant for other children who aren't so responsible, they learn how to turn down the voice of worry and turn up the volume on rational thinking. Specifically, therapists work on identification of anxious thoughts, ways to challenge these thoughts, and the generation of alternative coping thoughts. Physical symptoms of stress are addressed by teaching deep breathing and relaxation training. Then children and adolescents use these new skills to practice in situations that make them anxious (called in vivo exposures) beginning with the easiest situations and moving to the more difficult.







http://www.worrywisekids.org/anxiety/gad...

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Liza - posted on 11/19/2011

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Dad is always on the defensive and went to the counselor one time with our son. He got upset over the counselor trying to direct him in how he should approach problems with our son (discipline wise and watching what words he uses when he's frustrated) since words and tone really effect how our son interprets a situation. I think that there may be less structure at dad's. The more unknowns for my son, the more anxiety and the more distorted a situatiion is precieved.

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What's going on at his father's house that makes him feel the therapist is biased against him because s/he takes it seriously?

Katherine - posted on 11/18/2011

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Well I know much younger kids who have phones that don't NEED them. Just a simple Metro PCS would do. How responsible is he? He sounds like he's a good kid.

Liza - posted on 11/18/2011

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He's at dad's Thursday after school until sunday at 4. Dad has 3 other kids (15, 5, and 3) and insits that the schedule of parenting time doesn't change. If I even suggest a change, Dad accuses me of trying to take his son away from him. However, he has let our son stay with me for the past two weeks because of his anxiety, but I think this only makes the anxiety worse. My son is dyslexic,so writing is a big part of his anxiety. I have been thinking about getting him a cell phone for when he's with dad so I can get ahold of him, but then there's the concern over getting an 11-year-old his own phone.

Katherine - posted on 11/18/2011

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So somehow you need to make the transition smoother. So I take it he stays with you for a week and his dad for a week? That would be really rough on a child with GAD.
Maybe he could write you letters? Get some of his frustrations out while he's at his dads. Writing is great therapy.

Liza - posted on 11/18/2011

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He sees a therapist once a month but it hasn't been much help. The counselor tends to allow my son to oversensationalize situationsat his dad's house and dad is unwilling to come to this therapist because he thinks the therapist is "biased". We started "three good things" to try and help change his focus: He has to tell me three good things about that day. Things have just gotten worse recently. He threw up at school because he was upset about doing the wrong bellwork page. The teacher (who has been most awesome) had made suggestions on how they can avoid making this mistake again and then let him get up and get a drink and use the restroom because she could tell he was getting ready to have a melt down. She did everything right but he was already over the top because he was already stressed about returning to dad's that day.

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