CalderoneA asks:

My 13 year old doesn't want to return to school due to anxiety.

My thirteen year old daughter has always had "anxiety issues" - mostly relating to school. This year (7th grade) has been horrible.  She is a perfectionist and wants (and gets) all A's but feels that the work is overwhelming to her.  When she has a panic attack in the morning she will say, "I just can't take it anymore. I don't want to go back. I hate this place." And it is so difficult to see her crying for hours at a time. I know its worse to keep her home so sometimes we just stay in the parking lot until she calms down enough to go in. This can take hours.  I have suggested another school but she says that won't be any different. The school has been patient but i can't go through this another year with her. I have taken her to a psychologist in the past and have recently taken her back since her problems resurfaced.
In Topics: School and Academics, Teen issues, Children and stress
> 60 days ago



May 15, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Your daughter does appear to have a problem and it seems that you are taking some appropriate steps.  These things do take time and often the solution requires more than one measure and perhaps a change in providers if things don't resolve. But in the meantime here are a couple thoughts to consider in addition to what you are doing.

You might want to ask the psychologist about a referral to someone who can prescribe some anti-anxiety medication for your daughter.  While I am not someone who is hugely in favor of meds for kids, I would also want to consider this option when the anxiety makes the child dysfunctional, which it appears to be doing in your child's case.

You mention that the school has been patient. I don't get a clear sense of their involvement beyond understanding that there is a problem.  You might want to consult with administration or guidance to see if your child qualifies for special education because of her emotional difficulties.  If the review process decides that she does qualify, academic modifications and other services may be able to be put in place to help your daughter to get back to school and access her education.

You say that you have taken her back to the psychologist because the problems resurfaced.  That means they must have been resolved at some point.
Most likely the psychologist will discuss with you and your daughter the strategies that worked in the past.  Request to be part of this discussion, so you can build on what was effective before.

Be sure to review with your daughter and her psychologist what the reason might be for your child becoming overwhelmed at this point.  Early adolescence is a tough time for kids. I am sure the psychologist will look into this, but it is good for you as a parent to consider  also what some of the underlying causes might be.
For example, are there new circumstances at home that could be causing distress that is coming out as school anxiety?

Put your thinking cap on, talk to your daughter, consult with the school and the psychologist and hopefully, you will come to some conclusions and solutions.
I hope it goes well.

Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
Clinical Social Worker
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