From time to time, kids during their primary and secondary years may go through stages where they don’t want to attend school. This may take the shape of, ‘I feel sick, I don’t think I can go to school’, or ‘I hate school, I want to stay home’. When this occurs, it is referred to as ‘school refusal’. School refusal can be a serious emotional problem and if it is not addressed, it can lead to longer-term problems for kids.
School refusal involves a high level of stress about school attendance. Kids want to remain at home where they feel safe and removed from the severe anxieties they have about school. Children may exhibit physical symptoms of their stress including: crying, stomach aches, tantrums, extreme anger or systems of anxiety such as not being able to catch their breath, sweating and panic.
School refusal usually manifests itself in a gradual process over time. Parents may notice that a child becomes increasingly reluctant to go to school on a Monday after the weekend or after a holiday period, and each time a parent allows the absence, this will reinforce the problem as it becomes increasingly difficult to return to school the longer a child has refused to attend.
So, it is very important that intervention and a range of strategies occur as soon as possible. These strategies can help the child to regain their confidence, and to lessen the anxieties or other issues that are a challenge for them.
Also, it is important to try to return the child to school as soon as possible, and that the school is informed of the issue. It may be useful to have a medical check-up to ensure that any of the physical symptoms that the child says they have, can be investigated. If needed, it also provides an opportunity for the doctor to refer the child and family to a psychologist, so everyone has the opportunity to discuss and explore issues. Bright Ideas Psychology is experienced in dealing with this type of behaviour and help assist you return your child to school.