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To Sam

I have hypreventilation issues

Hello, I've recently been starting to struggle with school, especially science and maths, I've been trying to tell this to my parents, but they have been pushing me away.. My issues have been getting worse and worse, and i have been failing classes and not being able to focus on my work, and again my parents have been pushing me away. They got a phone call yesterday from my teachers, talking about how I've been failing classes, and they asked if everything was okay at home, but when they got home they proceeded to scream about it and lecture me. i was unable to reply, since that happens sometimes when i feel under pressure. My father was screaming at me so i would reply.. but i couldn't. after counting down from 5 he came up to me and grabbed me by the neck and asked me for an answer, i couldn't and i just started screaming until he let go, afterwards i was struggling to breath, and every time he comes near me i start to hyperventilate.. i don't know what I'm supposed to do.. and no, my mother doesn't help, as he was choking me out she just stood there, reading through a piece of work i was going to hand in.. ​ i would really appreciate your help

Ask Sam


Hi there,

It's not okay for your father to choke you. Nobody ever has the right to hurt you, and this is especially true of your parents or carers. They’re supposed to be there to make you feel safe, not frightened. Sometimes being scared can affect your breathing and make you panic. Coping with this is going to be different for everyone but I do have a few tips that might help.

First, it's important to say that what your father is doing is abusive. Abuse is never your fault – there’s nothing you could do or say that would ever give your parents the right to hurt you or make you feel unsafe. Talking to an adult you trust about this, or a Childline counsellor, could help you find out about different ways of getting support and coping with what’s happening.

It looks like your parents’ abusive behaviour is causing you to panic. It's important to focus on this when you feel ready – and to speak out to someone you trust about what’s happening. But it might take some time for you to feel ready to do that. Childline has some advice about how to tell someone what’s happening. It can take time before you feel ready so in the meantime I can give you some advice about hyperventilating and looking after yourself.

When someone hyperventilates it means they’re breathing very fast. Normally we breath at a steady pace unless we're doing something like exercise. When we get scared or anxious, this can make our breathing faster. You can sometimes breathe out too much carbon dioxide which automatically makes you breathe more and you might get into a cycle and find it difficult to slow your breathing back down.

When this happens there are a few things you can do that might help. You could try splashing cold water on your face. The feeling of cold water can help you calm down by distracting you from the thoughts that are making you panic. It can also also trigger your body’s natural responses and lower your heart rate. This will help you slow down your breathing and calm you down.

Breathing exercises can also help when you are hyperventilating. Childline’s Calm Zone has some of these that can help you both before and during a time you're hyperventilating. One that can especially help is our breath-in-breathe-out animation to help you manage the timing of your breathing when you're anxious.

Childline has more advice and tips about coping with anxiety and panic attacks that could help you cope with hyperventilating.

Thank you for writing to me about this. I hope my letter has helped for now, but what your dad has done is not OK and not your fault. Try to talk about what's happening at home when you're ready.

Take care,


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