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Son 17 has social anxiety, won't go to school.


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Old 28th November 2017, 2:40 AM   #1
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Son 17 has social anxiety, won't go to school.

My son is 17 and lives with his mum and brother. I also have 2 older daughters who live with a partner and the other with a friend. My daughters 21 and 19 and son 15 are very social and outgoing, they have friends, boyfriends, girlfriends etc. The girls are over 18 so go out night clubbing (Im in Aust so legal drinking age is 18) and to party and things..basically have a normal life.

However my son seems to have social anxiety and is only getting worse. When he was younger he was always a bit shy but managed to play with kids in the street and at school. He played football for a few years and was very good at it but then he hurt his finger and needed an operation so couldn't play for a year. The following year he never went back to it.

This time last year he would go riding his bike with his mates on a Saturday night and then one day he stopped and didnt want to go. His mates kept asking him but he made excuses. His mates even asked his brother why he wouldn't come out with them. At school he's fine and he plays football on the oval and stuff with his mates and mucks around with them on the bus on the way home etc. But after school and on weekends he just stays home playing xbox. He used to come to my house every 2nd or 3rd weekend and usually 1 night a week but he doesn't do that anymore either. His mum will go to her boyfriends house on the weekend and my younger son goes with her but S17 stays home on his own all weekend and doesn't go out or have friends over or anything like that.

2 weeks ago he saw that someone had written on the lockers. "L is fat". Now he is a big boy but I wouldn't say fat and he's fairly tall so hides it well. But after he saw that he wouldn't go back to school. for the past 2 weeks he refuses to go. His mum went to the school and spoke to the principal who said he will get the graffiti removed , and did. But he still wont go back.
His mates dont tease him or call him fat it was just some idiot but we now cant get him to go back to school. He also has a receding hairline so his hair is very bushy and messy and he refuses to get it cut. He told his mum that his mates do tease him about his hair and thats another reason why he doesn't want to go back to school. His mum said she would take him to a barbers and get it cut properly but he refuses to go.

So we have no idea what to do. But we are worried whats going to happen next year when he finishes school as he will be to anxious to go for a job interview and get a job or anything like that. We wont to maybe take him to see someone but he refuses to go and we cant force him. Ive asked him a few times why he just stopped riding his bike and hanging out with his mates but he wont tell me why. He never says why. His mates dont know either. He told his mum today he suffers from anxiety but when she said she would take him to see a doctor he refused to go.
We dont know what to do to help him.
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Old 28th November 2017, 8:31 AM   #2
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Of course you can force him. He's your kid. Take him to a psychologist office & get him into the therapy room. Let the professional break through the shell.


Drive him to school every day before you get a summons for his truancy.
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Old 29th November 2017, 2:40 AM   #3
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Of course you can force him. He's your kid. Take him to a psychologist office & get him into the therapy room. Let the professional break through the shell.


Drive him to school every day before you get a summons for his truancy.
Force him?? You mean like tie him up and gag him and then carry him into a waiting van and then hold a gun to his head and make him talk?? Yeah right because unless we do that there is no way we can force him to go.

We've spoken to the school, he cant be forced or done for truancy as he's over 16 which is the legal school leavers age.
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Old 29th November 2017, 8:32 AM   #4
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When does he turn 18?

If you can't force him to go to school or the doctor, and he refuses to listen to you, then it's time for some tough love. Take away his video games, phone, computer, and anything else he is using to loaf around all day, and tell him he can have them back when he attends school and visits a doctor.
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Old 29th November 2017, 8:48 AM   #5
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This sounds more like depression than anxiety . I feel for your son. I don't think "tough love" is the way to deal with this. He needs compassion and to feel understood.
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Old 10th January 2018, 6:33 AM   #6
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This sounds more like depression than anxiety . I feel for your son. I don't think "tough love" is the way to deal with this. He needs compassion and to feel understood.
ya, and he needs a job. he's not going back to school. his choice.

around here, everyone earns.
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Old 10th January 2018, 6:48 AM   #7
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Force him?? You mean like tie him up and gag him and then carry him into a waiting van and then hold a gun to his head and make him talk?? Yeah right because unless we do that there is no way we can force him to go.

We've spoken to the school, he cant be forced or done for truancy as he's over 16 which is the legal school leavers age.
then he needs to start earning and paying his own way.

i took my youngest to my job and i took her cousin with us as well. neither one of then could believe how hard it is to earn a living.

i like to say that they stopped asking for expensive things after that, but no.

your boy's a misfit. and his appearance isn't helping. he might be depressed by his appearance, he may have premature baldness or body dismorphia. let him know that doctors are not the only source of help. tell him you will take him to a barber on the other side of town and take advice on his hair. go with him to buy new clothes, shoes, whatever he wants that will help him accept/approve of his image.

we all go thru this, "how i feel bares no resemblence to how i look, omg".


some people are happy to isolate, to control their "exposure". some people are depressed and struggling. he may be hiding something like dyslexia or homosexuality.

my advice, when he's out, start snooping. look for a diary or a journal and definatly look thru his phone. look at the picture gallery and snoop his online profiles.

anything alarming or concerning take to a professional and discuss with them what to do next. if he won't go, take his story for him.
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Old 10th January 2018, 8:07 AM   #8
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Ah this is hard. But I agree with others that "tough love" is required, however brutal and ugly that path is going to be.

Your son should not permitted to spend his weekends in a house on his own playing X-Box. Whether your wife needs to stay home, or your son needs to go with you, he needs adult supervision right now.

Someone else's suggestion to cut off WiFi access and phone time is a good one. I believe that could be your bargaining tool for getting him into therapy. "No Internet or phone until you agree to do this. Period."

Also let him know, on no uncertain terms, that come age 18 he will no longer be privy to free room and board. In order to live with either you or your wife, he must be required to make financial contributions, via his own salary. Allow it to dawn on him that his only alternative —*funding his own place to live —would be next to impossible unless he makes drastic changes to establish financial independence. Which will be particularly hard without a high school degree.

Is your son going to make this difficult and terrible? Of course. Can you physically force him to do these things? No. But you and your ex-wife need to team together here to enforce some tough measures to disrupt the wallowing comfort of his status quo. If you don't do that, he could very well remain in these same exact conditions through his 20s.
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Old 10th January 2018, 8:15 AM   #9
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Force him?? You mean like tie him up and gag him and then carry him into a waiting van and then hold a gun to his head and make him talk?? Yeah right because unless we do that there is no way we can force him to go.

We've spoken to the school, he cant be forced or done for truancy as he's over 16 which is the legal school leavers age.
You are in a tough spot.

He has to.do something. If he refused to finish HS then he's got.to do something. Tell it to him that way. He can't just sit at home and do nothing.

Perhaps one approach might be for one of you.to take a few days off and hang out with him and take him places and give him some ideas of what he can do if he refuses to go to or finish HS.

You might also get to the bottom of why he refused to finish.
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Old 11th January 2018, 9:08 PM   #10
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Well, he has to be told to go to school. Bullying is crap, but it also teaches us some skills. We can't just avoid it all the time. It will be in the workplace as well. Better to learn to deal with it now than wait and not go to the office.

Tell him staying home is not an option. Give him whatever skills you can to deal with bullies. Tell him for one thing that anyone who feels the need to tear down other people like that has low self-esteem and is desperately trying to make himself feel superior by bringing others down to their level. That's true. Let him know that person is worse off then he is. Also tell him most people are not like that and not to let one bad apple ruin the whole bunch.

Take his x-box away if that's all he does. It does contribute to social problems because they spend too much time doing that and not enough time interacting and learning social behavior. Good luck.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 10:34 AM   #11
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Take him to a specialist.
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Old 3rd March 2018, 2:47 PM   #12
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You say he won't go to school and he won't go to the doctor. He's not who gets to make those decisions, so you need to stand up to him and get him to see a psychologist since he is having problems and make him go to school whether he wants to or not. But he needs a psychologist to get over the social anxiety, which has become epidemic since internet and texting and video games. Easy never to talk to someone in person. You're the parent. Get both parents on the same page and decide he'll do what you say he'll do. You've only got one more year to prepare him to be an adult, and so far he's not almost there and yet you're letting him call the shots. Take away everything if you need to and just haul him to a psychologist so he can talk it out and get treated for anxiety. Make him go to school. Alert principals he's getting teased so they don't blame him for it and get him back in school. School is where we learn to deal with rotten people the likes of which we will have to deal with on a daily basis at work and calling utility companies. It's easier to learn coping now than later.
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