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7 year old with crying, low self esteem, does not pay attention
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7 year old with crying, low self esteem, does not pay attention

I have a daughter that is struggling to complete task at home and at school in a timely manner. If you call her name too loud she cries, if she thinks something is too hard she cries, if someone compliments her sister and not her she cries, i told her to go to her room and get dress and she cried. I don't know what to do. i have been tip toeing around her trying to make sure that she does not cry. I can't do that anymore. I need some advice. her work at school is very messy and sometimes her teacher has to tell her to do something more than once. she is not being defiant but it is aggravating. she say she did not hear or did not understand. it is like she lives in another world. she bites her hair, nails, and has a constant runny nose that she seems to not even notice. she is always saying that someone is not going to like her or they might stare at her. she gets up in the middle of the night sometimes and says that she hears things and she can't sleep. no i am not a separated parent, she lives with both parents, i don't believe you have to spank a child tp properly discipline them but i a finding myself getting very frustrated. can someone please give me some advice or some strategies to help her and myself cope.
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Avatar_f_tn
I suspect your daughter is suffering from anxiety.  Often children who suffer from anxiety appear to have an over-sensitive amygdala (section of the brain) which causes issues in self-regulation.  This is why children with anxiety cry a lot and are easily frustrated and upset.  They also have difficulty concentrating at school and appear to not be listening; when in fact, the anxiety "takes over" their cognitive brain; sometimes the anxiety can be so severe that our children are not able to learn in perceived unsafe places until that anxiety level is lowered.  Your other examples of "biting her nails and hair", "others not going to like her", and "poor sleeping" issues are all very common anxiety behaviours.

Anxiety is an inherited trait, but anxiety is highly treatable and young children respond quickly and favourably to the correct treatment.  I might suggest you google the term "childhood anxiety" or "anxiety disorders" or other similar phrases to find information on the internet.  There is lots and lots of information as anxiety is such a common mental health issue.  Since it appears your daughter is having trouble functioning, then you should contact your family physician for advice.  If he/she is unable to help, then ask for a referral to a doctor with experience in anxiety issues.  The only way to help a  person with anxiety is to "lower the anxiety level" and a qualified doctor should be able to help you in this regard.  As every child responds differently to anxiety; so the treatment can be somewhat varied although the typical approach will involve intervention, therapy and possibly medication.

Please let us know if there are other questions.  I wish you the best ...

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Avatar_f_tn
Wow - she sounds exactly like me when I was her age!  And I have a son who is very similar.  There is a book called the"The Highly Sensitive Child" which might help you.  She sounds very sensitive - and kids who are that sensitive pick up on EVERYTHING.   The notice who is looking at them, HOW they are looking at them,  and then they imagine WHY they are looking at them (And in their head this is usually a negative reason).   They just don't miss a trick - they are always scanning their environment (they aren't even aware they are doing this)  for the subtlest of clues to what people may be thinking.  So someone who is so highly in tuned to these things all the time - will be way more sensitive to their sister gettting a compliment   than someone who really isn't paying attention.  This causes a tremendous amount of stress for them - thought they can't seem to help it which is probably why she cries at the drop of a hat.  Can I ask how she does in school?  Because sometimes these kids can be more advanced than the other kids and find it all very boring (hence the sloppiness and the zoning out..).   I definitely would not spank a child who is this sensitive.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for reminding me that many children who suffer from anxiety also are co-morbid with sensory issues (Sensory Integration Disorder if severe) and also depression.  I neglected to mention those points to the first poster.  

I'm curious - how is your son coping with his issues?   Any advice or hints on helping our children would be so appreciated.  And what helped you in school - these ideas are tools which help us to help our children.  Although the research in mental health issues for children is increasing, there are so many things yet to be discovered.  Actually research is beginning to indicate that most children with anxiety/sensitivity issues tend to be cognitively advanced (sometimes I think it is the "price they pay" for being smart - this was an ironic statement).  I question the "sloppiness and zoning out to being more advanced" for most of our children - research has proven that if the brain has to choose between emotional aspects or cognitive aspects, the emotional side of the brain will win every time.  Increased stress will, of course, decrease the learning ability of our children.  Our goal is always how to "lessen the anxiety/fear/stress".

Looking forward to any ideas or suggestions you might have ...
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Avatar_n_tn
my daughter is very smart in school, it is just trying to get her focused to do the work. i ask her why does she write like this and she says she does not know. if i have her do the work for me at home and is it with her she does it the correct way. or shall i say neater and faster.
i really appreciate all the feed back and i will do my research on childhood anxiety.
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Avatar_f_tn

If your daughter can do the work at home correctly, then do not urge her to do it faster or neater.  Some day when she is more comfortable at school, she will be able to do the work easier and more neatly.  Try to keep in mind that it is her anxiety/fear/stress which prevents her from doing this work neater and faster.  And as she says, she truly does not know why her body and brain is behaving this way (always remember it is her anxiety which causes this).  At this point, she does not have control; her anxiety has the control.  
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jdtm - yes - my son definitely has Sensory problems also - he is bothered by all types of fabrics (we are down to plain old cotton or really silky materials),  dim lighting really bothers him,  noises distract him. He is the poster child for sensitivity!   He's a deep thinker who is also bothered by anxiety and a slight bit of depression which I am trying to pull him away from by learning to cope to with his thoughts and trying to change his thinking when it comes to how he thinks others perceive him.      He also has the zoning out and sloppiness problem which I've been told may be a little ADD.  (to add another diagnosis to the bunch! LOL!)    He tends to do things very fast - to get to the heart of it - he can't be bothered with details.  Is that ADD or is that just him?  I think it may just be him.  When he wants to get things done - he'll get them done - he may leave a disaster in his wake - but it'll get done!    The reason I thought the sloppiness and zoning out may be the sign of being bored is for that reason.  When a kid gets something quickly - they don't have the patience to sit and listen to it be explained to the other kids and so they zone out.   They also are not interested in doing the work and so they just want to get it over with and that's why the do it quickly and sloppily.  ?  I don't know I'm just guessing.

The only thing that seems to help him is for me to be his "soft place to land" - he doesn't really cry anymore because he's a 10 year old boy - but he does COMPLAIN and he gets VERY NEGATIVE when he's having a bad day (which is a lot!) and I used to get really mad because I just couldn't take the constant complaining!!!   But then I realized he needed me to just listen.   So I do - and when I hear that he is making general statements like "Everyone hates me" - I stop him and ask him if that's really true - he knows its not because he does have some friends. Or if he thinks someone is thinking something like "Oh, yeah, Eric was looking at me like I was a big freak today!"   Then I'll ask him if Eric said that - or if he is just jumping to a conclusion of what Eric MAY be thinking.  And he'll realize that he's making it up in his head.  Well, sometimes he will - other days he will insist that's what the kid was thinking!  I just try to point out how he thinks in general sweeping thoughts when really every thing isn't black and white like that.   I think the socialization thing is a huge source of anxiety for kids who are very sensitive and prone to anxiety.   I'm working on helping him with his social skills.   I'll take any suggestions from anyone also!  
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Avatar_f_tn
I've copied some of your statements and then placed below my opinions.  I have no medical background (educator by trade); however, I do belong to a support group for parents and teachers of children suffering from anxiety.  Unfortunately, there are so many children affected with this mental health issue - one that is easily recognized (if one knows the symptoms) and one that responds favourably to treatment.  And surprisingly, their stories are so similar.  And, if anxiety is the issue, then the child will not outgrow it nor will the anxiety "go away".  The only thing that works is to"lessen the anxiety".

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my son definitely has Sensory problems also - he is bothered by all types of fabrics (we are down to plain old cotton or really silky materials),  dim lighting really bothers him,  noises distract him. He is the poster child for sensitivity!   He's a deep thinker who is also bothered by anxiety and a slight bit of depression

This describes our child to a "T".  However, we believe that it is the anxiety which exacerbates the sensory issues and the depression.  Anxiety resides in the brain - a fearful physical, mental and emotional reaction in the absence of danger.  We have found that when the anxiety/fear/stress were lessened; so did the sensory issues and of course, the depression become less.  But, for us, this process of "lessening the anxiety" has taken years to reach the place where we are today.


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am trying to pull him away from by learning to cope to with his thoughts and trying to change his thinking when it comes to how he thinks others perceive him.

This is what the professionals term "cognitive behavioural therapy".  This type of therapy is one of the main components of treatment for anxiety disorders.  But, I'm wondering - could a knowledgeable therapist offer additional help and guidance?  In our area, though, a professional will not counsel a child using this type of therapy until eight years of age - suppose it takes a certain amount of maturity to grasp the concepts.  Some of the children in our group have taken workshops and short courses on how to socially interact and/or worry less; the older ones CBT.


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He tends to do things very fast - to get to the heart of it - he can't be bothered with details.  Is that ADD or is that just him?

This is just like our child.  I really think it is the anxiety that is the issue here - trying to get things done so the stress of the task can be removed.  Our child was also suspected of having ADD/ADHD when in the second grade; however, as her anxiety has lessened, so has her inattentiveness and hyperactivity.  They still explode at unforeseen times when she is unexpectedly stressed.  But, she could always watch a favourite television show from a very, very young age or be enraptured with the computer for hours - not signs of ADD/ADHD.  Also, children who have issues with ADHD often are shunned by their classmates at school and this was not the case with our child.  One more thing - she was incredibly sloppy in her work and often "ate" part of her assignments.  This, too, has lessened over the years as her anxiety issues have lessened - this year she even has a neat binder - the first for her!  But, she still is not able to learn with the ease at school that she is able to do in the safety of home.


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I think the socialization thing is a huge source of anxiety for kids who are very sensitive and prone to anxiety.

Again, I believe it is the reversal - the anxiety (which begins with the amygdala in the brain) is the source.  Research is beginning to indicate that children who suffer from anxiety often have parts of the primitive brain that are particularly over-sensitive and
thus, have difficult regulating their thoughts and actions.  This is why children with anxiety cry a lot, and are frustrated often, and have low self-esteem, and feel they can "read negative thoughts and others dislike them, and throw tantrums in safe environments.   Some researchers even believe that children who have inherited anxiety (try to think of anxiety like a genetic malfunction as diabetes) also are delayed in their social development and I believe this to be true.  Even though our child has many, many friends, she definitely is not "mature" for her age (and for a teenage girl this is not a bad thing LOL).


I really believe that moderate to severe anxiety cannot be conquered without help.  The usual method for treatment of anxiety is a multi-modal approach and frankly, we used everything available to us - over-socialization, intervention, therapy (art and speech), and medication.  And, we used everyone available to us - relatives, neighbours, friends, support group, internet, educators, and medical professionals.  The first step for us was to contact our family physician.  Hope this helps ...





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Avatar_f_tn
Wow - this is very eye opening!!     I never really looked at like this -but it makes a lot of sense.   I don't have the time to post everything I am thinking - but I will repost tomorrow! (You've given me a lot of info to take in!!)  
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I finaly have a minute to breathe - the past few days have been hectic.  But I have been thinking about what you said - and I really agree with you.  The anxiety is probably to blame for a lot of the problems - not the other way around.  It really opened my eyes because I've felt like there are so many multiple things going on with my son - but now I do feel like it is all anxiety related.  And it all makes a lot of sense and now I feel as if I can help him better.   You sound like you have walked a very long road with this.  (are you sure you are not a psychologist???  You sound like one!!)   I have so many questions about anxiety - I was wondering if I could send you a private message so we could talk more?   Let me know, okay?  Thanks   Alice
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Avatar_f_tn
No, I am not a psychologist - LOL.  And yes, the road has been long and arduous but at least, we know where we are going.  I will say this again - anxiety is a mental health issue that is highly treatable.  And, the estimate is that by high school graduation, 20% of the graduates have or have had some dealings with mental health issues - one area our health care system lags way behind.  Looking forward to hearing from you ---
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for all the insights on anxiety. Since my 8 year old has returned to school, things have been extremely rough. He also has sensory perceptive disorder. Since he did so well last year (2nd grade), we had hoped he was growing out of many of his behaviors (as told to us by some school staff(...but this year, he has made a complete turn around. He is extremely anxious, cries at school, gets overly frustarted, refuses to do his work, is socially isolating himself, has left the school grounds and other spots he was supposed to be because he got emotional and didn;t want the other kids to see him cry. I get calls daily from the guidance counselor. This is very frustrating to everyone, especially homself, so I appreciate all the comments you have written. I will google anxiety disorder...PS, he saw a psychologist, and is re-visiting another soon (The first was not in our insurance plan, and we are unable to afford her prices). PS...he gets OT 2x's a week...
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