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Can he have permission to eat in a courtyard or something?  Other than that, I have had to have the conversation that vaccines are many many times more protective than masks.  The fact that everyone around him is vaccinated is better protection than a bunch of unvaccinated even if they are masked. Don't know if logic would help this particular kid or not.   

Would it be possible for you to drive there and have him eat in the car? Maybe it will just take some time to get used to it and just getting him some food in the meantime any way possible just might be needed. 

ETA: I missed that they are already eating outside.  Sorry. 🙄. Hmmmm yes I would request further away until he adjusts. 

Edited by busymama7
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Poor kid! That’s a tough one, especially since his anxiety (though it might be excessive) is grounded in truth: No once can be absolutely certain that they won’t catch Covid, or have long Covid, or wind up hospitalized. Speaking from experience here, the thing that helps my coronanxiety the most is doing the things I know reduce my risk. (Wash hands, stay as far as practical away from other folks when I am out.) So, for example, you could say, “Yes, I know it’s scary and stressful, but eating a healthy lunch with lots of fruits and veggies will keep your immune system from running down, and that’s just as important as wearing the mask!”

Edited by I talk to the trees
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How long is lunch time?  How long is an exposure?  It used to be not even considered an exposure until 15 minutes.  I think Delta might be shorter but not sure on outside.  Maybe finding that information could help him feel safe unmasking for ten minutes or whatever.

I'd also consider a meal replacement drink so he could quickly get some protein and calories in.

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I understand and I am a lot like him because of how infectious this virus is and in my case I decline to eat around others but that is unsustainable for an athletic kid.

Talk to his teacher and get permission for him to move away from the table and sit at least 20 feet away in the sunshine (lots of UV rays) and eat by himself. He could still talk to his friends if he wants to carry on a conversation. In my local middle school, I see many kids using the football field to spread out to eat lunch and they are more than 12 feet away from each other while still talking to each other. I feel sorry for your son. These are circumstances that are hard to navigate even for adults, let alone a 11 year old.

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Generally, I’d take the approach of working through the fear but he’s 11 and I think his fears are valid. I’d try to work out a solution by talking with him about where he can eat comfortably. If he needs more space from people, I’d advocate for that so he can eat without the anxiety, perhaps. He might still feel anxious but it could still help him to eat a full lunch. He’s been through a lot and maybe he can know that each day that he goes to school he’ll get a little better at handling the anxiety if he’s able to make some decisions along the way that make him feel safe. 
Hugs

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You all need to find someone he can talk to about his anxiety as well. If he is saying some "some kinda crazy impulsive things," you need to get him some help with those anxious feelings. So many kids are dealing with overwhelming anxiety - try yoga, meditation, spending more time in nature until you can get him an appointment. And you will all need to safe gaurd him from hearing too much about the pandemic and schools, etc.. - I have no idea how you can do that as it is everywhere. I am so sorry. 

Protein drink with a straw and a face shield while outside is a great way to stay safe.

What is the rain plan? 

 

 

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We have a student who is (understandably) anxious about lunch time as well. He has permission to eat in a different room of the building with a peer if he chooses. Would the school be willing to offer something like that? He chooses a vaccinated peer and they eat together with the windows open. 

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I wouldn’t go looking up statistics on Delta, that will only make it worse.  The information boardies have posted from New Zealand of how brief contact was (verified with genetic tracing) might make him refuse to leave the house.  

I agree, get permission for him to move away from the tables to eat.  And Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety if the things he’s saying seem anxious. 

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2 hours ago, lmrich said:

You all need to find someone he can talk to about his anxiety as well. If he is saying some "some kinda crazy impulsive things," you need to get him some help with those anxious feelings.  

Not the OP, but I am fairly positive he is already being treated for his anxiety (which has a lot of complicating factors). 

It sounds like he can't handle group lunch very well now. Being back at school is already a big change, so I'd speak to his doctor or therapist about a note for him to eat elsewhere. I'd be prepared for the school to offer a completely different location, because it can be difficult to let one child do things differently in front of other students (so it might be the counselor's office, etc). 

 

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He sounds like he's old enough to learn about how virus particles disperse in outdoor air. Perhaps he'd appreciate watching (scientific, authoritative) videos how viruses scatter in the wind. Or, perhaps if you have a family friend who's a doctor who can explain that info to him? Is he the kind of kid where getting more information would help sooth fears?

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Tbh, as a teacher I’m freaking out about lunch for myself, my kids, & and my students right now too. And we eat inside 😞

I’d get him his own location to eat- they should work with you and if he has a 504 or IEP they have to.

Sorry this is one more thing on his plate.

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This is so hard. I’m so sorry. 

If you can arrange a place away from others, as suggested, I think that’s great. 

In the meantime, what about packing some type of meal replacement drink, and if all else fails maybe he can snake a straw up into his mask? It’s not ideal, but maybe it could be a compromise till a better solution is found.

Anxiety sucks.

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I think also be proactive about if the outdoors is going to last into winter weather — might as well bring that up now if you are needing to bring this up with the school anyways.

Honestly it’s happening at school, but lunch is a time of day that can get overlooked.  I think it’s appropriate to bring it up with the school.  

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When he’s away from school, like at home, when you talk to him about it, does he accept that the current lunch setup is ‘safe’? (I put that in quotes because nothing is 100% safe, and I also don’t know if YOU consider the current arrangement is safe?).   I ask because my instinct was like some others mentioned- letting him sit elsewhere by himself. But if you do that, will it just validate that the current setup isn’t safe? And will it just transfer  his anxiety to somewhere else?   I’m so sorry he’s going through this. 

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Did you speak with the school counselor or psychiatrist?  Many schools have a lunch bunch or lunch group that caters to kids with a variety of concerns.  Usually the students can get together as needed, to eat separately in a small group with the counselor or an aide.  Would something like this help?

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7 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

 

But my youngest keeps deciding that my precautions aren't good enough.  And I struggle to respond.  His psychologist feels that accommodating his anxiety by changing the rules just runs the risk of reinforcing the anxiety, and that we should stick with the message that his school is really safe, that mom made a safe choice for him, and that he can eat outside with vaccinated people who are regularly tested and not worry.  But the thought of him not eating breaks my heart.  My other kid comes home every day and tells me how delicious the food is.  

Oh, in that case, I would just keep on trucking. It's hard on a mama's heart, but there's really nothing else you can do if eating with the group is the best choice. He'll be fine food-wise, there are kids who choose to never eat lunch at school. 

He might get demerits or detention for the crazy, impulsive things he's saying at lunch, or pushback from the other kids, but that's fine as well. The annoyance of detention, a bit of peer pressure, and hunger might work together to get him eating! 

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How long has school been in session?  If it’s the first two weeks I think this might, possibly blow over. 
 

If this is the most that is happening it’s different than being the tip of the iceberg.  
 

If it’s the most that is happening and he can accept a message of “we think this is acceptable” then I think — he will be okay, a little missed food is going to be okay.

 

If it’s the tip of the iceberg then that is different.

 

I think the advice you are getting is good, as long as this is the only thing and on the minor side.  It’s not ideal but it’s also okay.  
 

It is hard to know when to be “firm and sympathetic but not overly sympathetic” and when to act.

If you truly are okay with this lunch — I think it’s fine to focus on that.  
 

Kids this age do still follow your lead while also thinking for themselves.  
 

If it lasts or gets worse — that is different.  
 

Anyway — I do think you are getting very reasonable guidance.

 

It is *totally fine* to say you are sad your kid is sad or you are having anxiety about your kid’s anxiety.  
 

I think it’s worthwhile to try to separate what is a problem, what is not a problem, and where anxiety fits in.

Kids have anxiety without it being a disorder.  It’s not something to minimize!!!!!!!!!  It’s still a big deal.  But sometimes as a parent you respond to try to minimize in a way, and that is a good thing to do when it is appropriate.

 

There is not some magic where a child is not really having anxiety because it’s not a disorder.  Anxiety can develop into an anxiety disorder.

 

It’s a serious thing. 
 

It’s informative to say it’s not a disorder but it’s also — there’s no reason to minimize even

when this is the case.  
 

Iow I think the response and seriousness can be the same as if there were a disorder, even if the response looks like — not doing much because that is the recommendation.  That can be very important even while looking like “not much!”

 

And it’s important for parents to seek support because it is hard for kids to have a hard time!  It is hard to act on the advice you are getting, even while it is good advice!  

 

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

Thanks everyone,

To clarify, I don't think he's a kid with an organic anxiety disorder.  I think he's a kid who has had a lot of trauma, and continues to be in a very stressful situation, and is reacting to that.  He's been in weekly therapy since Dec 2019, when his brother went on hospice, and we continue to address the issues, this is just one way it's popping up.  But yes, he's getting CBT, and as much TLC as I can muster.

We also try very hard to be matter of fact about covid precautions.  I do my research, and am thoughtful about my decisions.  We take a lot of precautions, and obviously there's no hiding that.  But once we've decided that we think something is worth the level of risk is involved, and the ways we'll mitigate those risks, we go about it, and experience it fully (albeit perhaps in modified form) and enjoy it.  And my message to the kids is that those are my decisions, and their job is to listen to my directions, and respect my decisions, but within that they should feel free to participate in and enjoy anything that I approve of.  For my older kid, who overall is my anxious kids, this division of responsibilities has worked really well.  He's anxious too, but he participated in theater camp this summer, and seems to be settling in at school.  He trusts me to keep him safe.

So, in this case, once we decided that the benefits of school, including having a physically and emotionally safe place to be while I work, were worth it, we picked the safest school we could find -- with small classes in big rooms, surveillance testing, a vaccine mandate, a mask mandate, outdoor lunch, outdoor P.E. etc . . . , and then my hope is that they'll go and participate fully and enjoy it.  And ironically, if it weren't for this anxiety, this school would be 100% perfect for him.  They have recess (hard to find in middle school) and daily sports, and are doing a great job of differentiating upward when he needs it, and have lots of arts offerings, and they even serve delicious food.  So, I want him to go and make friends, and love it.  

But my youngest keeps deciding that my precautions aren't good enough.  And I struggle to respond.  His psychologist feels that accommodating his anxiety by changing the rules just runs the risk of reinforcing the anxiety, and that we should stick with the message that his school is really safe, that mom made a safe choice for him, and that he can eat outside with vaccinated people who are regularly tested and not worry.  But the thought of him not eating breaks my heart.  My other kid comes home every day and tells me how delicious the food is.  

I am sending filling snacks for morning recess, and the break before sports, and giving him a good breakfast.  It's just hard. 

I think his psychologist is right. 

Kids who have plenty of food to eat before and after school won't starve. The protein drink is a good idea for something he can drink at lunchtime. 

Avoidance really reinforces anxiety  (and tbh it doesn't really matter what the cause is).  You do risk undermining your own message of 'school is safe' if you intervene here. 

Realistically, distanced outdoor eating is not a high risk activity. I'd hold the line on this one - you feel lunchtime is safe, food is available, a drink is there if he feels he can't eat. 

The crazy, impulsive stuff - what does his psych say? Is there psychological support at school? 

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28 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Avoidance really reinforces anxiety  (and tbh it doesn't really matter what the cause is).  You do risk undermining your own message of 'school is safe' if you intervene here. 

I so agree!  

It is so hard, but it really can help!  

1 hour ago, katilac said:

Which is not ideal, but probably not something I would worry about right now. 

I agree with this, too.  Keeping in mind that he is 11!  It is a learning experience -- he may have some negative consequences, but maybe he will also be able to feel like he doesn't have to keep it a secret and kids like him anyways.  

As far as embarrassing things for a sibling to put up with, this is pretty minor!  It is frustrating for siblings any ways, but sometimes siblings will be frustrated with the most mild thing.  

 

Edited by Lecka
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Okay -- if you are comfortable with the counselor's suggestions -- the thing is, it is very hard to carry out -- because it comes across like you are some uncaring person, not sympathetic to your child, just saying "go to school, it's going to be okay."  

Really -- it is hard, but when it is appropriate -- this is a very good, caring thing to do.  

It is really difficult!  

It is not some easy thing where you are just going "who cares, suck it up."  

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28 minutes ago, Lecka said:

Okay -- if you are comfortable with the counselor's suggestions -- the thing is, it is very hard to carry out -- because it comes across like you are some uncaring person, not sympathetic to your child, just saying "go to school, it's going to be okay."  

Really -- it is hard, but when it is appropriate -- this is a very good, caring thing to do.  

It is really difficult!  

It is not some easy thing where you are just going "who cares, suck it up."  

This was me on the phone to DD last night. You have to stay  calm AND authoritative. Don't go down the anxiety sinkhole with them. Show them that you back your decision/statement of 'it is OK.'

So hard! But yes, the loving thing to do. 

 

 

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If the counselor is giving advice to not change the circumstances, then your options are limited if you choose to follow that advice. 🤷‍♀️
 

It seems the real issue, other than the uncomfortableness he is experiencing, is that he is embarrassing his older brother through over disclosure. Sometimes that happens even if there is no anxiety. My 8yo is also a motor mouth when she is nervous. Awkward for sure, but older brother probably just needs to roll with it. Maybe help him with some phrases on how to cope with that? 

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

Except he's sharing things that his brother would really rather he didn't share,  and that aren't his to share.  And them my oldest is fielding really awkward questions. 

 

I get it, but it's a pretty ordinary sibling problem.

Those aren't things I would even put in the "crazy, impulsive" category, just the oversharing category. You're a teacher; surely you've had those kids that tell all? I always laugh when I remember the little girl who could not wait to tell me that the police were at her house the night before, lol, like it was the best thing ever. 

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I'm sorry.  Part of it might be the transition period, and just needing a little time to feel safe.  I wonder if in the meantime, he could get permission to sit a distance away.  Not in his own room, but maybe at a small table further away, just for a little while.  Then over time, he'll hopefully, gradually feel more comfortable moving closer to the group.  He's been through a lot.

I'd also pack in the calories at breakfast and dinner.  Does he bring a lunch or get lunch at school?  Maybe you can pack him a lunch of high protein bars, or high protein bites where he could put them in his mouth easily.  

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1 minute ago, BaseballandHockey said:

No, we're outside the norm.  Or at least we're outside the norm for him. He's a pretty compassionate kid, and he knows his brother well. If he was stopping and thinking at all, he'd know that his brother doesn't want these things shared with his brand new classmates at his new school. 

But in addition to the impact on his brother, the fact that he's not stopping and thinking is a sign that he's desperately trying to keep his mind off whatever's bothering him. 

Sure, but keep in mind that kids do things we wouldn't expect pretty often, and he's at an age of difficulties and changes. 

Could it be an anxiety response? Sure, absolutely. But he's already being treated for the anxiety, so I'm not sure what you can do here. I'd probably focus on helping the oldest figure out responses when he gets awkward questions. Trying to get siblings to stop being embarrassing is usually a losing battle at the best of times. 

It's hard. If you're comfortable with trying his therapist's recommendations, you just have to keep on trucking - and send him out for ice cream whenever anything important needs to be discussed. 

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11 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I know my kid.  

I don't know what I want here.  I want him to stop hurting.  But I don't know what response the Hive would give that would lead to that. 

 I do trust his therapist, and he's probably right that we need to push through this and not accommodate, but his anxiety presents so differently from the vast majority of anxious kids I know, and from my own anxiety, that I second guess myself.  

From a totally unqualified to give advice position because my background is more with animal behavior than human behavior, I keep thinking of the idea of being overthreshold, and becoming sensitized vs desensitized. 

To explain those a bit...

If people in hats cause a dog to be anxious, one approach is to try to desensitize them. To keep showing them people in hats until they just realize it isn't a big deal. Sort of like saying, he needs to push through and will realize it is okay to eat at lunch. But sometimes, if you are going over threshold and the dog gets wound up/anxious too much during the sessions, instead of getting desensitized they get sensitized - they become more anxious, not less. 

Brain chemicals are funny things. And with some animals, we see that what should work makes it worse, because by constantly putting them over threshold they are winding those chemicals up and never letting them come back down. And how long it takes for them to come down varies from individual to individual. So their fight or flight chemicals are up from the first exposure to people with hats and then the next day they are still elevated, so they go into the next session already at a fairly high level of anxiety, so then when they see the person with a hat in that session they are even MORE anxious than the first time. I've watched this happen with one of my own dogs - I did EVERYTHING right, under the mentorship of a veterinary behaviorist with multiple doctorates, but she was getting more and more aggressive and reactive. I socialized the heck out of that dog, gave treats to countercondition, etc etc. I was taking her to work with me every day at the vet hospital, letting her sit in the reception area, then taking her to shopping malls on my lunch break. 

Do you know what finally worked? Leaving her home alone most days. She didn't need more socialization, not until AFTER she had a chance to truly relax. Otherwise it was building and building and building each day. Once she had fewer social interactions I was able to work with her and she was SO much less reactive. She needed time for those brain chemicals to come down to normal. 

Now, humans and dogs are not identical, and hopefully this wasn't totally insulting, but I wanted to bring it up after you said it seems to be getting worse, not better. And that it is s situational - in that it isn't an innate personality thing but from all the stressors. 

If the ONLY thing stressful to him in his life was eating lunch near people, I'd see the point of trying to work him through it and push him to do it. But when he has SO many other stresses, and is going into that situation with elevated stress hormones from grief, family dynamics, new school/classroom/expectations, pandemic, sitting in a classroom indoors after avoiding that all year, etc etc...maybe it really is just too much. And if you can't change all those other stressors, maybe you can change this one. And it isn't caving, but giving him a much needed break to let his stress hormones come down a bit before tackling the afternoon stresses. 

Just a thought. I don't know your kid, his life, or well...human pyschology, lol. But if he were my dog, or a client's dog, I'd do what it took to get him back under threshold - a table further away, a family member to pick him up to eat lunch in the car in the parking lot, something. Again, I wouldn't say that if it was the only thing freaking him out. But it isn't, from what I understand. It's just the final straw, sort of thing. So a time to retreat and regroup where he feels safe before dealing with everything else seems fair to me. I could be totally wrong. 

I also hear that the advice from therapist isn't quite ringing true to your gut, and maybe Im wrong about that too. 

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14 hours ago, Melissa Louise said:

I think his psychologist is right. 

Kids who have plenty of food to eat before and after school won't starve. The protein drink is a good idea for something he can drink at lunchtime. 

Avoidance really reinforces anxiety  (and tbh it doesn't really matter what the cause is).  You do risk undermining your own message of 'school is safe' if you intervene here. 

Realistically, distanced outdoor eating is not a high risk activity. I'd hold the line on this one - you feel lunchtime is safe, food is available, a drink is there if he feels he can't eat. 

The crazy, impulsive stuff - what does his psych say? Is there psychological support at school? 

I 100% agree with this. 

OP, I have anxiety and some of my kids do, too. It can be really hard to put into practice though because watching our kids struggle is so hard. Besides the trauma he’s been through, he is also entering a developmental stage where autonomy is very important. Some of mine have dug into anxiety responses that were unhealthy when I tried to push my healthier view of what they should do. 

The best response from me has always been to admit to myself it was hard to see them struggle, to manage my anxiety and the fact that I become micromanaging when I am anxious ( for me the wanting to make sure he eats would be a manifestation of that—that may not be true for you, but I am mentioning it as something to consider.)

Managing this to make him feel safer won’t help, IMO.  Trying to be a non-anxious presence, giving lots of love, keeping home stress down ( particularly not letting him see how stressed you are by this),providing activities that are also coping mechanisms ( hikes, even binge watching a show together) and modeling creative problem solving are more likely to help but it may take awhile. 

I can’t remember if you are in therapy. My time in therapy to help my kid’s anxiety was family transformational. My therapist listened but also helped me see even the microscopic signs of progress. For instance, the fact he is going to school is actually wonderful for the level of concern he has right now.

( (Hugs)) this is not easy!

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There are a lot of great comments here. One thing that’s maybe missing is helping him see that even if he caught Covid, chances are still quite slim he’d have any problems. Then shield him from the news, don’t discuss Covid at the dinner table, etc. Focus on other things your family enjoys instead so he doesn’t fixate on Covid at least at home. Surely you know know plenty of people who’ve had Covid and been just fine—if he brings it up, talk about their experiences and how they came through it with little trouble.

Obviously this might not fly for a wide variety of reasons may not work for your kiddo. I truly don’t mean to downplay a serious virus but it’s not like he’s being careless… he may need  to hear that while it’s good to try to avoid Covid, even if he did catch it, he’d most likely just have a few cold symptoms and be fine with it. In a way that he would still trust you if he did end up hospitalized of course… but even though hospitalizations are up, they’re still quite unlikely for children.

I have one with some anxiety and this message has helped her.

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16 minutes ago, maryode said:

There are a lot of great comments here. One thing that’s maybe missing is helping him see that even if he caught Covid, chances are still quite slim he’d have any problems. Then shield him from the news, don’t discuss Covid at the dinner table, etc. Focus on other things your family enjoys instead so he doesn’t fixate on Covid at least at home. Surely you know know plenty of people who’ve had Covid and been just fine—if he brings it up, talk about their experiences and how they came through it with little trouble.

Obviously this might not fly for a wide variety of reasons may not work for your kiddo. I truly don’t mean to downplay a serious virus but it’s not like he’s being careless… he may need  to hear that while it’s good to try to avoid Covid, even if he did catch it, he’d most likely just have a few cold symptoms and be fine with it. In a way that he would still trust you if he did end up hospitalized of course… but even though hospitalizations are up, they’re still quite unlikely for children.

I have one with some anxiety and this message has helped her.

I don't think her son is worried about himself, but about his 90 yr old grandfather that lives with them. 

 

Edited by ktgrok
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37 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Just a thought. I don't know your kid, his life, or well...human pyschology, lol. But if he were my dog, or a client's dog, I'd do what it took to get him back under threshold - a table further away, a family member to pick him up to eat lunch in the car in the parking lot, something. Again, I wouldn't say that if it was the only thing freaking him out. But it isn't, from what I understand. It's just the final straw, sort of thing. So a time to retreat and regroup where he feels safe before dealing with everything else seems fair to me. I could be totally wrong. 

 

This makes a lot of sense to me. Also, my opinion as a non-doctor. 🙂 

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23 minutes ago, maryode said:

There are a lot of great comments here. One thing that’s maybe missing is helping him see that even if he caught Covid, chances are still quite slim he’d have any problems. Then shield him from the news, don’t discuss Covid at the dinner table, etc. Focus on other things your family enjoys instead so he doesn’t fixate on Covid at least at home. Surely you know know plenty of people who’ve had Covid and been just fine—if he brings it up, talk about their experiences and how they came through it with little trouble.

Obviously this might not fly for a wide variety of reasons may not work for your kiddo. I truly don’t mean to downplay a serious virus but it’s not like he’s being careless… he may need  to hear that while it’s good to try to avoid Covid, even if he did catch it, he’d most likely just have a few cold symptoms and be fine with it. In a way that he would still trust you if he did end up hospitalized of course… but even though hospitalizations are up, they’re still quite unlikely for children.

I have one with some anxiety and this message has helped her.

My kid with COVID anxiety is attending College with great COVID policies and with psychological support, both on campus and weekly virtual therapy, and this is an approach which is helping-doing the raw numbers to show how well protected you really are on a campus with vsccination, testing, and regular masking, and, statistically, how unlikely that makes it for you to infect others (because for MY teen, the concern is for making other, more vunerable adults sick, not the risk to a 16 yr old). 

 

That may be an approach that is useful for your DS-thqt, statistically, it is safe for him to eat lunch outdoors, 6 feet away or more from other vaccinated people, and that regular testing and masking in the classroom provides risk reduction as well, so he is statistically extremely unlikely to infect his grandfather. 

 

I think a lot of the focus on COVID anxiety in kids assumes the primary fear is the child getting sick, but for many kids, especially those who have experienced fairly recent losses, the fear is infecting others and the idea that their case might be so mild they don't even know it is terrifying, not reassuring. 

 

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1 hour ago, ktgrok said:

And if you can't change all those other stressors, maybe you can change this one. And it isn't caving, but giving him a much needed break to let his stress hormones come down a bit before tackling the afternoon stresses. 

I agree with this. He’s already able to choose very little in his environment. I’d work with him on this one. Especially since I think his concern isn’t irrational.

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I want him to stop hurting.

I think this is the real hard part.  There is not a lot to actively do to directly help him.  

1 hour ago, freesia said:

Trying to be a non-anxious presence, giving lots of love, keeping home stress down ( particularly not letting him see how stressed you are by this),providing activities that are also coping mechanisms ( hikes, even binge watching a show together) and modeling creative problem solving are more likely to help but it may take awhile. 

These are the kinds of things that really do help!

They are not very satisfying compared to doing something more dramatic, and can seem like nothing, ignoring what is going on, not doing enough, etc.  

This is why it is so hard!

This is where it gets into -- it can be okay for him to have this problem, and for his brother to have his problem of feeling frustrated.  These are things that can be okay.  

It is so hard, though, and there is probably not a solution in the sense of -- fixing it and making him feel better!  

I really did not get into this parenting thing to sit on the sidelines while my kids are struggling!  But sometimes it is a good thing to do, anyways!  

 

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I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.  I think it’s extra hard because there is a risk and it’s not a situation that’s ever going to go away.  At some point, life will return to normal, with Covid still present, and you don’t want your son having perpetual anxiety about eating with others or in a crowd.  And the trauma component is real.
I think following his psychiatrist’s suggestions is the wisest route.  11 is a hard age anyway, but gently pushing through may be the best long term solution. 

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