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When Your Child Refuses To Go To School.

Young person with cardbox box over their head with a sad face drawn on it

As a parent, one of the most challenging situations to deal with is when your child refuses to go to school. Generally described as school refusal by now termed “emotionally based school avoidance, this can be a frustrating and confusing experience, leaving you feeling helpless and unsure of how to handle the situation. However, it's important to understand that school refusal is a real issue that affects many children and there are ways to effectively handle it.

According to an article in the Guardian newspaper, although COVID 19, lockdowns and teacher strikes have had an expected effect on school absences, the number of children struggling to attend school continues to increase year after year.

In this blog, we will discuss what school refusal is, its possible causes, and most importantly, how to handle it in your child.

1. Understanding School Refusal

In this section, we will define what school refusal is and how it differs from regular school avoidance. School refusal is when a child consistently refuses to attend school or has extreme distress about going to school. It is not the same as occasional absences or tardiness. School avoidance, on the other hand, is when a child may try to skip school but is not as consistent or severe as school refusal. Understanding the difference is crucial in addressing the issue.

2. Possible Causes of School Refusal

There can be various reasons why a child may refuse to go to school. These could include:

  • Social anxiety

  • Separation anxiety

  • General Anxiety

  • Bullying

  • Academic struggles

  • Fear of failure.

It's essential to identify the underlying cause to effectively address the issue. Communicating with your child and their teachers can help in understanding the root cause.

3. Communicate and Validate Your Child's Feelings

It's crucial to have open and honest communication with your child about their feelings towards school. Validate their emotions and let them know that it's okay to feel anxious or scared. Encourage them to express their thoughts and listen without judgment. This will help build trust and a sense of understanding between you and your child.

4. Seek Professional Help

If the issue persists, it's essential to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can work with your child to identify the underlying cause and provide them with coping strategies to manage their anxiety. They can also work with you to develop a plan to gradually reintroduce your child to school.

5. Create a Supportive Environment

Lastly, it's crucial to create a supportive and positive environment for your child at home. This includes setting a consistent routine, praising them for their efforts, and providing them with a safe space to express their feelings. Also, involve the school in the process and work together to create a plan that will help your child feel more comfortable and supported at school.

School refusal can be a challenging issue to deal with, but with patience, understanding, and the right support, it can be effectively managed. Remember to communicate with your child, seek professional help if needed, and create a supportive environment for them. With your love and support, your child can overcome their fears and return to school with confidence.


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