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  • Writer's pictureSabaa Afzal, LPC

School Refusal: What Parents can do?

Updated: Nov 26, 2018

School refusal can be very distressing for both the parent and the child. Often parents are blamed, as if it is their fault, which makes them feel worse. If your child does not want to go to school it is usually not your fault but there are some things you can do that might help. Reasons for School Refusal

  • Problems at school. Being bullied, not having friends, not understanding where things are - feeling lost at school, learning problems, not getting along with a teacher, not having homework done.

  • Separation anxiety. Being afraid to be away from parents and fear of losing a parent. The child may think something bad will happen to the parent.  The child may not fully understand distance and space and so feels she has lost contact with her home.

  • Feeling Forgotten. Some parents may be very late picking up their children due to work and other life circumstances. This can lead the child to feel and belive they have been forgotten.

Steps Parents Can Take

  1. Talk to your child. Talk about what's bothering them, while at the same time making it clear that a plan will be made to return to school. If the child is unable to describe reasons, don't force conversation and avoid lengthy lectures. Instead convey that you believe your child can conquer this problem, and you'll be there to help her through it.

  2. Check for physical causes and make a sick policy. For example, you might make it a rule that unless your child has a fever, she goes to school. If she is truly ill, the school nurse can evaluate the situation and send her home if necessary.

  3. Do not make it appealing to stay at home. Let your child know that if he's truly ill, he will need to see a doctor, stay in bed and rest, keep the TV off, and so on. Enforce rules about no TV or video games. If your child does end up staying home and is not ill, have him read, study, sit upright at a desk, and so forth.

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