What is school refusal?
School refusal occurs when a student will not go to school or frequently experiences severe distress related to school attendance.
What Causes School Refusal?
Although young children usually find going to school fun and exciting, one in four children may occasionally refuse to attend school.
Such behavior becomes a routine problem in a small percentage of children. Many children with school refusal have an earlier history of separation anxiety, social anxiety, or depression.
Certain problems like learning disabilities or reading disorders may also play a significant role in the development of school refusal.
Children with school refusal may complain of physical symptoms
If the child is allowed to stay home, the symptoms quickly disappear, only to reappear the next morning. In some cases a child may refuse to leave the house.
What are the reasons?
Starting school, change of school, new classroom, bullying, trauma, and any other stressful life event may trigger the onset of school refusal. Other reasons include the child’s fear that something will happen to a parent after he is in school, fear that she won’t do well in school, or fear of another student.
Often a symptom of a deeper problem, anxiety-based school refusal affects 2 to 5 percent of school-age children. It commonly takes place between the ages of five and six and between ten and eleven, and at times of transition, such as entering middle and high school.
Separation anxiety children with school refusal may have a history of separationanxiety, or may suddenly develop fears of being separated from parents, grandparents, or other attachment figures.
Changes in mood or behavior. Children refusing to go to school may be clingy or anxious, may throw tantrums, may begin struggling at school, or may behave in other ways that are out of character.
School anxiety and refusal affect 25 percent of children, and often occurs between the ages of 5 to 6, and then again between 10 and 11. Children who refuse to go to school are often bright, with a history of excelling at school.
What parents can do to help
When a child won’t go to school, it’s tempting to treat it as a behavioral problem, or to simply ignore it and hope it goes away. But for children who are afraid of school, being forced to go to school can be extremely distressing. In this way, going to school becomes like a phobia.
Of course, not going to school is also not an option, so parents must find ways to support their children while still helping them get the education they need.
If your child begins refusing to go to school, arrange a meeting with the school counsellor or with a therapist. Most kids who refuse school will need to talk through their concerns with a psychotherapist.
What we do to help?
Counselling the child
Family therapy can also help your family find ways to support your child.
Helping the child build a support system. If they have trouble making friends, help them find new activities they enjoy so they can meet like-minded kids.
What not to do:
The way you respond to your child’s school refusal can make things worse. After all, you’r your child’s biggest ally. If your child feels they cannot count on you, they may feel even more anxious.
Children who refuse school need help, and a few sessions with our team of experts are often all it takes to get things back on track.