Monday, February 10, 2014

Anxiety and My Son

At three years old, our son started biting his fingernails, then his toenails.  By the time he was four, he would bite them until they bled. By 4 1/2 he had developed a "tic" where he was constantly clearing his throat.  When he gets very nervous about a new experience he vomits. If there's change in his routine, he acts out. If you aren't doing exactly what is supposed to be done, he would get upset and tell you. For the past couple of years, we have just chalked it up to him being a worrier. Then along came Kindergarten.  *Insert dramatic DUN DUN DUN music here*

There are a couple of children in our sons class who have problems staying in their seat, using nice words, etc. About 4 weeks into the school year, our son started acting out. He cried not to go to school, he yelled, hit, said hateful things. He was coming home with a note from the teacher about his behavior almost every day. The teacher told us not to worry, "boys just have a hard time adjusting to the change of routine."  We agreed that he has always had problems with changing his routine, and thought it would pass with time.

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, we were at our whit's end with his behavior. He didn't want to go to school, he didn't want to leave home, he didn't want to leave the babysitter's house, etc., etc. He started hitting us or his baby brother, the words became more vulgar and hateful. We decided it was time to reach out for help. We asked his teacher and school for input and suggestions. Their only response was, "well Kindergarten is a tough adjustment. We could get him in to see the school counselor but that's a lot of paperwork, and takes a long time."  My reply was, "That's fine, do whatever you need to do. He can't keep going like this."

Four weeks later it was Christmas break. He hadn't spoke to a counselor, the school hadn't said another word about it. The behavior was still just as bad, with no sign it was going to improve. I decided to give up on his school for any help, and sought out professional help. We got him into a counselor who thought he had ADHD, or anxiety/depression issues. We agreed that it was possibly ADHD, as we had filled out the parent questionnaire about ADHD and it seemed, to us, like he fit in the impulsive category.

By the end of January, we saw his pediatrician. I felt like I'd been hit by a Mack truck when we left her office that day.  We had been going about this with the wrong frame of mind. Our son didn't have ADHD. He has severe anxiety, iron deficiency, and possible sleep disturbance. A "normal" score on the survey we filled out for him would be under 25...his score was 54.....FIFTY FOUR! No wonder he's so anxious and high strung! We saw her on a Monday, by Wednesday, he'd had labs drawn and been started on two new medications. One to help with the iron replacement, and the other for his anxiety.  She feels his acting out is his way of trying to make himself comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.  He may still have some impulsive behavior issues, but we can work on that with time. He sees a counselor every 2 weeks now also.

He still acts inappropriately, especially in social settings, but we are working on fixing one thing at a time. The hardest thing for me, is to see other parents judge my child, and my family for his behavior...but that's a whole other post for another day.


  1. You are such a wonderful mom for helping him through this and for being so proactive and standing up for him! People are so judgmental and hurtful because they don't understand. You are doing what's best for him and he will continue to grow and learn. Great job!

    1. Thank you Kate! I appreciate the kind words.



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