Anxiety & Depression in Preteens
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- 7th grader hit puberty and is so sad!
- Relaxation Tape for 12 yr Boy with Anxiety
- 12 year old with anxiety attacks
My 7th grader just hit puberty and all of a sudden is so sad! She was never like this before, and I don't remember being like this (although apparently my sister was). She cries and cries, alone in her room. We have always been very close, and now she just wants to be alone in her room. Normal things that I used to do (like open her shades in the morning, or open her window) she gets very upset about. I am finding that I cannot keep up! She went from being a little girl to a teenager literally over night (I have read about this, but could not imagine it ever happening to my daughter). She has always been exceedingly sweet and honest and caring, and over night she is moody, crying, sad, and very frustrated. Is this simply puberty? Will it mellow out? I am surprised at how lost I feel. Advice from those who have walked this path would be wonderful! Mom of teen
A friend of mine likened the onset of puberty to being hit by a truck - all of a sudden, everything is different. And very difficult. I think it's particularly hard if you had a close relationship with your daughter, as I had. It takes a while for everyone to adjust to the new dynamic. So first, give yourself a break. No, the sweet pre-adolescent girl is not going to return, so it's appropriate to grieve that loss. And your role is most effective if you're a little detached. (My stock response for a couple of years - once I adjusted to my new role - was ''I'm so sorry you feel that way.'') The good news is that they do return. My sister, who teaches high school, tells mothers of her students ''A monster is going to take over your daughter for 5 years, but at the end of those 5 years the monster leaves and you get your daughter back.'' For us it wasn't a full 5 years, but I could tell crazy stories about lying, meanness, betrayal. That said, now I'm now calmly teaching my 15-year-old daughter how to drive a stick shift, and on New Year's Day she actually said to me ''Mom, it's, like, such a relief that I don't have to lie to you...'' Take a deep breath. Find fellow mothers to commiserate with. It's not going to be easy, but it won't last forever. Good luck. Been there.
I missed your question the other week, but saw this week's response and want to reiterate that although the initial shock of adolescent moodiness/nastiness/coldness is pretty awful, daily life eventually improves quite a lot, usually after two or three years. If it's any consolation, our daughters DO realize, sooner or later, when they've been mean; mine would sometimes apologize very sweetly for being cruel, especially if she was left alone or allowed to talk out her emotions. I think they actually want to stay close, but worry that they can't grow up unless they separate (and that's probably true). And I really agree with the value of becoming detached. I found life worked best when I refused to be treated rudely, but reacted to her moods as calmly as possible, even if it meant I had to go out later and take a walk to cool down.
One idea: See if you can get her laughing. I'm convinced that a lot of teenage awfulness resides in their emotional turmoil and the resulting physical stress and snappiness. When my daughter was being obnoxious, I'd suggest an after-dinner Monty Python or M*A*S*H episode, and that almost always lightened things (and gave her an excuse to mellow out while still saving face). Also, look at Mike Riera's books on parenting teenagers--very good, practical advice.
Lastly, if your daughter is on the intense and obsessive side, this is a useful technique when she gets into an emotional tailspin and won't be consoled. I came across it a few years ago, and realized I had done the same thing with my girl (only less structured and minus the new-agey trappings): http://www.oprah.com/health/The-Gift-of-Listening
Best wishes to you and your daughter. Some day she'll be pleasant company again, and probably love and admire you all the more for putting up with her so gracefully. Melanie
My 12 year old son has situational anxiety/panic issues related to when he goes to the dentist for anything else but a cleaning or has to go the doctor for shots. I am looking for an mp3 relaxation or hypnosis recording he can listen to that can be download from the web. Most importantly it needs to be a recording that a 12 year boy can relate to (i.e., no flowery imagery ). Any suggestions?
If you would like a tailored MP3 recording, I have seen a great hypnotherapist named Lucy Seligman who does a session and records it. She is really talented, and I think the benefits of a specifically-tailored recording might be worth the price. Right now she has a holiday deal for $55 per session; you can contact her at 510 710 3917, or email her at lucy [at] lucyseligman.com. The MP3 recording is included in the price. Christine
Here's an idea. On his own or with you, create an mp3 based on images and ideas and perhaps music or sounds that your son loves and that calm him down. Decades ago when I got divorced, I recorded an inspiring poem in my own voice and played it over and over before I left for work each morning. It was empowering to hear my own calm voice claiming all this good. You can use your phone (free conference services offer recordings of calls or your cell phone may have an app), the computer, or a recorder. Record instructions like breathe deeply and relax the body parts; picture, feel, hear, taste whatever he feels will calm him. Reply if you want some more ideas how to do this. Even if you purchase a professional recording, this might be an additional tool that will empower your son. Nancy
We've had good luck with a small, portable device called Stress Eraser (http://stresseraser.com/science-of-the-stresseraser), which helps users modulate their breathing and heart rate. It's not an audiotape, but it trains people how to control feelings of panic. Once you learn how to do this, it often just takes a minute or two with the device to get yourself back to a better place. It also helps with stress-related insomnia. Best of luck. Margaret S.
My twelve year old niece suffers from anxiety attacks. In her mom\x92s words, she gets stuck in a \x93whirlpool of worries that she can\x92t get out of.\x94 Her mom has found books directed at the parents of children struggling with anxiety, but I\x92m wondering if anyone has any suggestions for books or programs for the children themselves. Thanks. Concerned uncle
Both my girls went through the same thing - it started around age 11. Check out ''Dr. Fear'' who teaches phobease group classes for kids at Kaiser Valleojo twice a year. You don't have to be a Kaiser member, the cost is resonable (? 100 for 6 weeks). He uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques - will give homework each week. Very empowering for the kids to see they aren't ''crazy'' and that there are very concrete things that they can do to stop the anxiety. I think the next class starts in October. Google it for contact info. grateful mom
I don't know where you're located but UC Berkeley's Psychology Dept has interns who do therapy under the guidance of an experienced therapist. You can specify cognitive therapy, gender of therapist, etc. I would recommend the cognitive behavioral therapy for this, having gone through it with my child very successfully. Who knows if later she may benefit from traditional therapy, but this is where I'd start. If you're not near there I suppose you could try calling other universities? Oh, the benefit, excellent work at a sliding scale. - been there
Hello, I think it would be helpful for your niece to actually learn some strategies for dealing with anxiety. I have an anxiety prone 6-year old and my mom got her a CD which teaches her relaxation and mindfulness strategies. It is called: ''Still quiet place:playful practice to promote health and happiness'' by Amy Saltzman MD (contact info is dramy [at] foryourselfhealth.com). She may also have a CD for older kids, but I have to say I enjoy this one myself when I feel stressed. mgh