What to do when your child refuses to go to school?
“My kid is okay on weekends” but he complains of the stomach-aches and headaches and says he doesn’t want to go to school. He is pretty much nervous while getting ready. What to do? These are the common woes of parents and if you are one of those, perhaps it is important for you to know that your child might be suffering from “school refusal”.
Well, in layman terms we know it as “school phobia” or excuses for not going to school. We shall dive deep to know what is school refusal and how you can overcome the problem.
What is school refusal?
School avoidance also we know it as “school refusal” or “school phobia” is an uncommon behavior that your child develops. Everyone at some point of the time refuses to go to school but school phobia is entirely different. Children with school refusal symptoms have a problem in getting to the school or staying in the school. Kids suffering from school refusal symptoms are often seen having a tough time settling down in school.
There can be a number of reasons why your child has developed this behavior. Upon understanding the problem you’ll be able to help your child, overcome the withdrawal symptoms of not going to school.
Signs and symptoms of school refusal:
Some of the common signs of why your child refuses to go to school can be determined by looking at:
- Your child refuses to go to school, feels clingy and anxious about being separated from you or the family.
- Kids who have developed “school phobia” are often seen visiting the school nurse to complain about symptoms like headaches, stomach-aches, nausea etc. The moment your child is home, he/she feels relieved and the pain disappears.
- Bullying by the peers, scolding by the teachers and such relevant trauma can be the reason behind your child doesn’t want to go to school.
Causes of the child refusing to go to school:
There are kids who find school exciting and fun, they love going to school also, there are kids who show “school refusal” symptoms. Such behavior has become a routine problem among kids today, and the reason for that varies in every child.
Some of the common causes of school refusal behavior in the kids include:
1. Some early history of social anxiety, depression, separation, aggressiveness
2. Delayed milestones, learning disabilities as well as reading disorders are another significant cause that role plays in your child’s school refusal behavior.
3. Parents having marital problems or frequent fights in the family
4. Jealousy or feeling left out because of a new sibling
5. Reluctant to stay alone at home
6. Stubborn to go to sleep without a caretaker or a parent
7. Recurring complaints of physical pain such as stomach ache or headache, puking etc. when your child is separated for a while from his/her parents.’
Working on school refusal at home:
School phobia is a challenging thing to overcome especially when your kid is not enough mature to understand. However; there are some practical tips that you can implement at home when your child refuses to go to school. It happens that your child might be missing a home kind of environment at school hence, doesn’t like going. In such circumstance you can:
1. You need to stay calm when you are interacting with your sensitive child. If your kid sees anything that puts you in stress, anxiety or worry, your child gets affected too. Model a positive behavior in handling situations at home especially in front of kids.
2. Establish a calming routine every day rather than rushing through the day. Organize the uniform, pack the lunch, get the school bag ready ahead of time so that your child has a comforting start while getting ready for the school.
3. Furthermore, you can make school hours look more appealing than your home. For e.g. no playing video games or television, no leisure activities, or other fun stuff. This way you can show that going to school is more fun than staying back home.
4. Set a routine at your home about daily ordinary activities thus, the child gets a reasonable time to relax and doesn’t wake up crying.
Working with the school on school refusal issue:
School refusal is tough to describe accurately because it demonstrates in the different forms depending on the individual’s child. So, when you are talking to your child it is important to let them know that you understand their side of the story. For e.g. you can start a healthy discussion by telling, “I know that you don’t like to go to school”, but you are missing out learning new things. Your teachers and peers are there to help you. School going is fun”.
Below are the ways that you can motivate your kid to go to school:
- Show your child that you believe in what he/she is trying to convey. You can motivate by saying encouraging and positive statements like, “I know it’s hard for you to cope up when you are in the school, but you are doing great. You are a brave kid”. This will boost your child’s self-confidence.
- Use calming tone to let your kid know that going to school is a good thing. Avoid using negative words like “If” – for e.g. you can form a conversation like, “Tomorrow when you go to school” instead of “If you happen to go to school.”
- Try using direct statements which don’t give your child a chance to refuse to go to school.
When do you need to seek professional help?
You might find hard to manage your child’s school refusal behavior, but if you witness that your child is adamant to not to go to school, then you and your child may need professional assistance to deal with it.
Get help from your doctor. If your child still refuses to go to school or has developed some kind of intermittent/ chronic signs of separation anxiety, and are interfering with your child’s daily functioning – you may visit a child psychologist.
Keep in mind that being at a tier is a significant step–and a step backward often accompanies a developmental jump. Empower your child by stating, “This might be a little frightening, but you are capable of managing it” Knowing she can overcome her problems might be one of the lessons she learns in or outside of college.