I Need Your Help.....please.

I could really use your help right now if you have any experience with older children and separation anxiety.

Back story:
Blake has always struggled with saying good-bye to me at school.
I have posted often about our struggles and my heart break.
Since surgery came up in November at Shriners Hospital
Blake has struggled with severe anxiety at school in the mornings.
We have tried everything except one thing.
One thing I have been dragging my feet most on.....
a prescription drug to help him in the morning.

I have drug my feet so much on it that I don't even know what is out there and available for children.
But Blake is wanting help in the morning.
He wants to be at school.
He has fun at school.
But he can't control the feelings that take over him when we drive onto the school property.

He gets ready in the morning, for the most part, without a huge fight.
He gets into the shower, dresses himself and brushes his teeth.
He even gets into the car without incident.
All proving he really wants to be there.
And then as we start to approach the school
he starts to panic. He freaks out.
He wants me turn around and go home.
He rubs his head. Buries his face and says he can't do it.
I want to scream to him that he CAN do it,
but I see the fear in his eyes.
It is a fine line between anxiety and a control issue.
I sometimes wonder which it is.
I believe it starts as anxiety and fear and then the power struggle kicks in.
We don't let him win anymore.
He has to stay at school.
But those mornings are so so rough.
And it is evident there is true anxiety issues there that he cannot control.

So my question to you....
Do you know any medications that might work?
That you might have experience with your own children
or other children you know of?
Any help would be so appreciated at this time.
Google just doesn't seem to be the right place to turn to yet!

** UPDATE: we do have a reward system in place and counseling taking place.
Both have helped but not solved or working regularly.
ALSO...for some reason comments are being tempermental.
Please feel free to email me at davenapril@aol.com if you cannot leave a comment.

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  1. Bless you're heart. I wish I had a suggestion, but I can say that I'll pray for sweet Blake. This must be so rough on him- AND YOU. I pray you will find a course of action\treatement that will work for you both, comfortably. xoxoxo

  2. April - I have no experience with this and no suggestions. I hate the thought of medication like you and understand that. I also get the fear of searching the open internet. I guess I just wanted to say that I am sorry and you are in my prayers.

  3. I wonder if some counseling might help, maybe a reward system that might be good if he is able to "talk himself out of panic" which can be done and a counselor might be able to help him do that. I feel bad for him, rough way to start the day.

  4. oh my dear...I am SO sorry April. But I can say that I personally struggled with that as a teenager. For a long time. To the point that I would leave school. And even dropped out for a while. My poor Mom did the best she could, but we never really persued a medical route. Now, as an adult, I FINALLY have gotten medical help. And i'm like, "where the crap has this been all my life? And why on EARTH haven't I done something about it?" I know there is a stigma with medicine. And that you never want to over medicate kids. But I sure don't think it hurts to look into it. It would have made my therapy bills as an adult.....WAY SMALLER! :) Love you!

    1. I agree with this about the negative stigma about meds needs to be dropped because it creates resistance, pressure, and unnecessary stress that medication could help with. When it is a chemical imbalance in our brains that cannot be "disciplined" with the correct responses and we resist medication because of the stigma we give so much power an anxiety to trying to fix it. As a teacher I push people to try other options, but when those are exhausted (literally for the parents and child) look into medicines that your ped or other professionals recommend. We would not deny our child glasses if they we needed, so why do we deny other prescriptions? Hugs to you. I'll send you an email as well if you need a coffee chat from a teachers perspective.

  5. I'm so sorry to hear this; it's awful for all of you. Have you considered or tried any homeopathic remedies? Herbs, acupressure, aroma-therapy perhaps? Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-medicine, just throwing out a thought.
    I found this online: http://www.nativeremedies.com/products/kiddie-calmer-for-shy-children.html

  6. I'm so sorry you and Blake are struggling with this. I went through something similar in junior high, and counseling actually solved the problem for me. Now that I'm an adult and suffer from anxiety attacks I think that medication might have helped (it was probably a similar anxiety issue), but the therapy did the trick back then. I hope you are able to find a solution that works soon.

  7. As many have said before. I wish I had the advice to give, but I don't so I will pray. I really hope things work for that sweet boy!

  8. Hi April.
    I have a very similar child and boy was it hard! I feel for you! I am happy to give you my phone number etc, so we can talk. My guy cried everyday in Kindergarten until Christmas break and continued to melt after a weekend or Holiday. By Second grade he was a "stage 4 Klingon", as he now refers to himself. We did not do medication, but worked with a Therapist and made the school aware of his anxiety. They worked so well with us. I'm not going to lie, it broke my heart a thousand times over. It caused us all so much emotionally. He is now 14 and doing very well and is still not on medication. Try getting the book "the Kissing hand". Happy to help my Heart is with you all!!

  9. hi april. i had a little of this when my youngest was in kinder. i know our neighbor has a middle school girl who went through this also. when i see her i will ask what helped. i know that all is well now with them. also, have you went to a therapist? there maybe some coping things you can do as well to help......
    thinking of you xoxo

  10. Hi, April. I had a similar problem with my son. From the time he started kindergarten until about the fourth grade when I finall had enough and talked to his doctor. It was a struggle everyday. He didn't want to go for field trips parties or anything. I couldn't even go have lunch with him, because he wouldn't stay without me afterward. We did put him on meds, but I think what helped the most was when he really felt the need, he was allowed to go to the office and call me. At first he was allowed to call three times a day and we slowly weaned him. It really seemed to help. We still had some bad days but not nearly as many. He is grown now, but I have to say I cried many a morning. I know the feeling, and it is hard. You will make it through.

  11. April - our situation is different, but I know a "transition plan" has helped a lot at our house. We have a schedule, and we use the bus, because it makes the transition period easier than just getting out of the car. I wish I had better answers - we'll be praying!

  12. I know I'm so blessed that I've never faced this, but my daughter's friend did. In kindergarten, there was a little boy in her class who suffered severely. I mean, so badly did her suffer that he would make himself sick everyday. He refused to eat for the 1st 2 weeks of school. His mom was panicked, the school was panicked and finally one day the teacher decided to "assign" Caroline to him. I mean literally, she stayed with him from the minute they got to school until the minute they left. Her "job" was to make him happy, make him laugh, with the hopes that having a friend as soon as he walked in that gave him happy thoughts would work. At lunch she sat with him and would make silly faces to get him to eat. Finally after a month or so he finally ate lunch! He panicked until he got there and saw her, and we would even meet him at drop off so they could walk in together.

    I know every childs situation is different. And I know that Blake is older, but it might be worth a shot to have a friend that he really likes and makes him smile be there when he gets there in the mornings. I also know how hard that might be to set-up. I have tons of suggestions for this route if you would like more info. It's not fool proof for sure, days that she was out sick were hard for him. But, after seeing it all unfold, I know it works. And I'm proud to say that they have been best buds since :) You can email me anytime :) Hugs!!!

  13. I have no answers, but your story breaks my heart. I hope you're able to find something.

  14. April, I do not have a child with sever anxiety but instead I am the one who suffers from it. It's a horrible feeling, when it washes over you. For me I had to go on meds. (It was actually an antidepressant.) It was such a relief when they kicked in. Once under control I could concentrate on working with a therapist. This must break God's heart as much as it breaks yours. I am praying for you and for Blake. God is good.

  15. I have a child who suffers from severe anxiety. After many years of sleepless nights with horrifying nightmares, going the herbal route, seeing a counselor we decided to try meds. Most difficult decision we have made and now 6 months later the best. She started on a very low dose of Trazadone which is an older antidepressant that has the side effect of causing extreme sleepiness which is partially what she needed. She is also on Clonidine which is in the class of blood pressure meds but seems to reduce anxiety and again has been out so long that they feel it is safe for children. We did not make this decision lightly and we met with her dr. once a week at first to keep an eye on her. We have had our ups and downs, had to adjust when and how she takes them, alone or together, and with how much food. Meet with your dr. I'm sure he knows your childs history and he will know what to recommend. Then do your google search on what he recommends if you feel it is necessary. There is help out there that is safe for kids. When it is impacting his education it may be time to help him be the most successful he can.

  16. My second son has various issues and we eventually put him on Zoloft which seemed to ease a great percentage of his anxieties with few side effects. When I was pregnant with my 4th child I developed a severe case of pre-partum depression which was treated in part, with Zoloft. Having taken it myself, I can say that it helps dull the roar of anxiety which then makes it possible for you to concentrate on focusing on the root of your issues - through therapy or whatever. It's nearly impossible to implement a strategy or a transition plan or anything else if you don't first muffle the "sounds" of your anxieties. Taking the Zoloft was literally like having a giant rock lifted off of me so I felt like I could breathe again. Best of luck to you. I really feel for what you are going through. As a parent, all we ever want is for our children to be happy. Love to you.

  17. Tears! I wish I had answers for you. I know the thought of medicating is scary, and I'm not a pill popper. You are a smart mom and will do your research, and if the best answer for Blake is a medication that will ease his anxiety and in turn yours, then that is ok. You are going about it the right way--already researching. You have many praying for your family, you will feel the power of those prayers and the guidance of our Father. Hugs!

  18. Kennedy Family-
    Love you guys. Sorry to hear about the struggles. I will keep you in my thoughts.

  19. I think you just have to keep trying things until something works...one step at a time. One thing my pediatrician always said to us..."don't worry...I promise when he is 16...he will not still be nursing/sleeping with you/will be able to tie his own shoes." I used to think...PLEASE DON'T TELL ME I HAVE TO WAIT THAT LONG!!! BUT...I was able to relax a little and know that this was the adventure for now and life changes so quickily. My son did the same thing for 3 weeks in the 1st grade. For him it was a control issue. I would write something in the palm of his hand he could look at throughout the day to calmhimself down. My friend's child did this for a month when she was in the 4th grade. I started taking her to school and walking her in with my kids. It took a few days but it finally worked. Maybe have a dear friend try it for you???

    HaNG IN THERE!!!


  20. April, I love that you and your husband are doing all you can think of to care for him and really hear him.

    As one who struggles with anxiety (I've had panic attacks since I was about 3), as some have said above, when you are in the middle of it you feel as helpless as those outside watching.

    I've coped. I have amazing coping mechanisms (for good or bad).

    I do think medicine might have helped me when I was younger but I don't think it was an option back then.

    As I've gotten older, I know they are coming. I have some besties who know the signs and are super understanding and help me be proactive to remove me from the situations. They are so subtle too and I love that about each one of them. (Example: It really helps me to either know the exits or face exits in rooms. I don't like to feel like I have no way out. Ones who know this will intentionally save end seats for me or put me in spots where I can face "out". I love that about them. They don't say anything. They are just safe for me and don't make fun of me. OK, I'm a bit weepy thinking about that!)

    I know you can't just remove him from school.

    I'm just rambling but know you are heard. I'll pray for wisdom for you and Dave. You are his parents. You know him best. When this happens, he's scared too and doesn't want it to be happening.

  21. April, I don't know any other children who have that kind of debilitating anxiety, but I DO know several adults who experience it with the same intensity. And yes, medication DOES help, but it has to be balanced correctly and be the right medication for the individual, obviously. One thing I would say is that if you try one and it doesn't work, DON'T GIVE UP! My prayers are with you guys, and I look forward to hearing more about Blake's progress. :)

  22. Oh, April... this is so hard. I have been dealing with severe chronic physical and mental illness for over 2 years now. I have tried all kind of homeopathic stuff, hormones, etc. I finally asked for some drugs. I'm hoping they will help. It's just the weirdest thing when your mind and body won't cooperate together. You can't just will yourself out of it... although deep breathing, praying and focusing on truth helps. I have a friend whose son had the same issues as yours. He did biofeedback and counseling for about a year and that has helped considerably. She also pulled him out of school and did some homeschooling for a while.

    I think the biggest thing for me is that I know my whole family is on my side. They don't think I'm making it up. They comfort me, encourage me, pray for me. They are "safe." They treat me normally and are understanding when I am having a really hard day. Hope this helps. I pray your little one's suffering is eased.

  23. I had the same deal when I was in 4th grade, though mine was due to teasing. I'd freak out before school and get a stomach ache. Eventually, my mom took me to the doctor and they prescribed something that reduced the acid in my stomach; basically, it made it harder to get a stomach ache due to worrying. After about a year, I weaned my self off it. (Literally, I went to school and forgot about it and realized I hadnt taken my meds and didn't have a stomach ache. So I made it a game to see how long I could go without it. Eventually, I just stopped taking it.) Meds do work.

    If you're concerned, maybe you could ask the doctor about a placebo first? Sugar pill thing?

  24. My son has suffered with severe anxiety issues almost his entire life. He couldn't even go up to his room by himself. We dealt with this for several years. It got to the point where it started to affect every aspect of his life. We tried counseling, reward system, ect ect. We finally saw a psychiatrist and he was prescribed citalopram. It is an anti-depressant/anxiolytic. It is int he class of serotonin selective reputable inhibitors. It has made a HUGE difference in his life. He responded wonderfully and can now do so many things he was never able to because of his extreme fears. I wish you the best and recommend that if you feel you have done all you can and feel in your heart that he needs medication that you should consider medication. It truly can be life changing for those who really need it even if they are children. I also know that unless you have dealt with this as a parent people just don't understand how debilitating it can be for your child and how heartbreaking as a parent it is because you can't "fix" this for them.


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