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Child Behavior Forum
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Avatar universal

Worried son

We have a 10 year old son in 5th grade, he has been getting all
A's thru school , he does well in sports and has fun at home
with or without his sister, jokes around.He was a happy kid and
a sensetive kid. Now all of a sudden he is so worried about forgetting to do some homework, or he forgot to bring it home.
He is worried he is going to fail in class if he forgets something.We go over all the homework with him, reassure him it is all done. But he will check his planner 20 times before he goes to bed and ask us again if it is all done, while along
crying through this. Even if we seem to calm him down about the homework, he seems to find something else to worry about, like that he might have a test tomorrow and he is not ready for it.
He has worried so much that he is not eating well, has an upset stomach, and has lost 4 lbs. or so in the last month.He is not overweight so there is not any extra fat on him.
He is not sleeping well, can't go to sleep because he is worried
and when he wakes up (about an hour to early for school)he is crying, because he thinks he might have fogotten something for school and doesn't want to get a bad grade.And of course we are not getting good sleep either.We have talked to his teacher about this , and we found out that he cries in school at times too. Most of the major worring lately has been about tests or
something they might have to do in school and say's he is not
prepared for it.Talking with his teacher about this , almost
always there is not a test or a paper for him to do in class that he was so worried about.His teacher is trying to help him
through this too. He is still getting all A's so far,he seems calm about doing the homework that he gets, and he does it,
even if he needs some help with it and we help him of course.
When it is there in front of him, he knows what he has to do
and doesn't worry about it other than making sure he takes it to school.It seems to be the things that MIGHT happen or WHAT IF
I FORGOT that seem to bring on most of the worring and crying.
After hours of this day after day, there times when we get angry
start to yell. We talked about this the other day after he finally went to sleep, and we agreed to help each other at not getting upset and yelling at all. Just give reassurance that it's OK.If he starts a big crying episode,we just let him get it out of his system,then he calms down and then it seems alot easier to finish his homework. Is this more commmon with kids
then we know about or this way beyond normal ? The only other thing I can think to tell you, is that we are sure that all of this started when he had a different teacher for a few weeks
before his normal teacher came back.  It just hurts so much to
see him go through this, and we can't seem to help much.
Since we calmed down about this and the teacher is helping more,
that couple days at school have been better.At home just a little bit better.Please give us some ideas to help him .
13 Responses
242606 tn?1243786248
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
The approach you are taking now is just right - be suportive, maintain your equanimity. This sort of obsessive-type Obsessive Compulsive Disorder usually does not appear as suddenly as it did with your son. It may be that he was vulnerable to this and something about the change in teacher fueled it. Have you spoken with him about that change? Were there any episodes with the teacher that were distressing to him? Certain types of OCD can occure suddenly in response to infection with a particular bacteria. The condition is called Pediatric Autoimmune Neropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Stretococcal Infections (PANDAS). Acute onset of obsessions is one of the variants of this. By any chance has he had strep throat or Scarlet Fever in the recent past?
Avatar universal
Thank You, Dr. Kennedy,
He has not been sick this year at all.
Talking to him about the other teacher seems like this might be what started this.(what do you think?) He says the teacher would say things like"if you don't get your homework done and bring it back tomorrow you are going to fail" or "you are going to be in big trouble".I found out the teacher would use a stop watch to time the kids to get their books out for the next subject and if they didn't get them out fast enough he would hold them in class so many minutes before he would let them go to lunch.
Also when he would be explaining a topic or answering a question
and my son didn't understand or write it all down he would ask the teacher to please repeat that and the teacher would say no.
There are probably a few more, but I can't think of them right know.When this teacher started, is when he would come home each day with another problem that happened with the teacher.
The good news is, this teacher is no longer here. This month started with his regular teacher. Some other good news(I hope), this morning was the first time in 5 weeks he did not cry before going school. He came close a few times, and he didn't
ask 20 times if he had his homework done, if everything is in
his bookbag.He only asked one time this morning.
He still didn't eat much breakfast, but I hope this is a good sign.
Is this something that will work it's way out,(with what we are trying to do) or are we going to have to deal with this for along time,or thru all his school years ?  Thank
You Again
242606 tn?1243786248
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
It is quite probable (almost a certainty) that your son will return to his usual level of functioning as he re-adjusts to his regular teacher. You are already witnessing the signs of improvement. The experience with this interim teacher was clearly anxiety-provoking, even traumatic, for your son (and likely for others in the class). Your son will be fine. It might be worthwhile to call the situation to the attention of the principal of the school, or at least to check in with some other parents to see what they think about what occurred.
Avatar universal
I read a lot about OCD and seems to fit what our son is going through. He worries about not having his homework done, so he rechecks and rechecks even though he nows it is done.
He worries something bad will happen if he doesn't do good on a test or quiz in school, he thinks he will fail, so he will ask over & over what if i do bad.  Did I study enough ?
Also after I read more, I see compulsive things that he did for
a long time, such as the way he would tie his shoes, they would have to feel just right, even if we were in a hurry to leave.
We have talked to the Principle and his teachers about this.
The principle is going to contact the schools head counseler
to see what he recommends of what to do in school to help.
I've read to see what we can do at home to help and with the school together we can hopefully get him to conquor his fears
that nothing bad will happen, if he doesn't recheck his planner so many times or he forgets a paper or doesn't do so well on a test. Does this seem to you the appropriate first step to see if we can handle this problem or is this something we need to
get him to a doctor right away for some therapy to help him through this?
Avatar universal
My daughter is in the 5th grade. I wish she had just a little bit of your sones get up and go. This is a hard year for the kids. Teachers don't look at them a little anymore even though us a s parents do. I think it's a teacher he has. My daughter has done the oppisite. she can't stand her math teacher. I have been tothe school many times and even tried to have the woman fired. she tells the kids to shut up and everything. of course she says she doesn't ,but i have talked to other parents who's children say the same. Some kids have ajusted the way your son has, my daughter on the other hand has not. She could care less if she even passes. She does very well in her other classes though. The other parents sound just like you. The kids are so scared ofthe woman, they don'twant to mess up anything. Good luck
242606 tn?1243786248
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Your son's baseline (i.e., usual) OCD was exacerbated by the stress brought on by the interim teacher. Now the OCD has lessened in intensity. When OCD symptoms are mild, they don't interfere much with a person's life. But at moderate or severe levels they can be a major interference, causing the person discomfort, interrupting normal life. Treatment of  OCD that is severe or moderately severe involves both therapy and medication. It would be wise to arrange an evaluation with a pediatric mental health professional. Your son's condition may not warrant medication; it might be possible to rely solely on therapy. The recommended form of therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy; it addresses the intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and the behaviors (compulsions) that comprose OCD.
Avatar universal
My son was diagnosed with PANDAS December of 2005. he has been on Zoloft since then, and now has been prescribed Strattera, which he will not take for me. But, is also going through cognitive behavioral therapy biweekly. He has his ups and downs with it. High anxiety some days, hard eye and head tics other days, fits of rage some days. But, nothing like he was!
I believe once I finally convince him to take the strattera ( capsule , he is afraid to take it) he will be doing even better. Strattera is very bitter, so cant mix it with anything.
Any pointers would be helpful!?

242606 tn?1243786248
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Depending on the dose he has been prescribed, use of the smaller (10 mg) capsules in lieu of the higher doses (and larger capsules) might help. His doctor may have to re-write the prescription.

Kevin D. Kennedy, Ph.D.
www.harvardvanguard.org

Avatar universal
His doctor told me this is the lowest dosage ( 18mg) he could have.
242606 tn?1243786248
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Perhaps the doctor would consider a regimen of 10 mg. doses twice daily (morning and late afternoon, for example) instead of the once-daily 18 mg. dose.
Avatar universal
I didnt think that was available. I will ask, thank you very much
Avatar universal
I have a son who is 10 years old.  His behavior has worried me very much lately.  As a young child, he was always very calm, quiet, happy, easily content and well behaved.  Lately he has been obsessed with his personal health/well-being.  So much so, that we have had to limit him to "two medical questions a day" in an attempt to get him to slow down.  

For an example, today he was playing in his room with his brothers (one older, one younger) with their new flashlights.  Everything was fine until one of the boys shined the light too much in his eye.  Then, we spent just about the rest of the evening trying to reassure him that he would not be going blind in that eye!  I personally have a degree in Psychology, which I know certainly does not make me any kind of expert, but I am extremely baffled by this!  My husband and I have spent hours talking to him, reasurring him, and trying to get him to voice his feelings/fears, but he is constantly coming up with new illness's to worry about.  Please help.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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