When it comes to going to school, the responses of children are as wide-ranging as there are children. Some children love school, especially at the beginning of a new year. They get excited over meeting their new teacher, making new friends, and even love the school work they’re doing and want to perform well.
However, some children absolutely dread going to school. They may hold such strong resistance to school that they refuse to go. This situation can be extremely challenging for parents.
How common is school refusal?
About 2 to 5 percent of children refuse to go to school on a regular basis. Once they get to school it’s difficult to keep them there. They want to leave because they don’t feel well. Parents are called to come and get them, and once they are home they don’t want to go back the next day.
Why do some children refuse to go to school?
Most kids struggle with going to school because of anxiety. There are many things about school that can trigger anxiety in a child. They may be dealing with separation anxiety, a condition that makes it difficult for children to be away from parents. While it is normal for young children to become anxious when they first have to leave mom and dad, after a period of adjustment it usually becomes much easier for them. However, for some, it doesn’t. If a child is suffering from separation anxiety, their worry is very intense. The fear that something bad may happen to either the parent or the child while they are away from each other.
Sometimes a family is impacted by a stressful life event such as the death or illness of a family member, divorce, or separation. Even moving from one city to another can bring a substantial amount of stress onto a family. When a family is in crisis or change, the child may spend a significant time away from school, and once things settle down and it’s time to go back, they may refuse.
Stop the cycle before it sets in
If your child is refusing to go to school, it is important to break the pattern as soon as possible. Working with a therapist will help determine the cause and how best to handle the situation with your child. If your child is suffering from anxiety, early treatment is helpful as it can prevent the situation from getting worse. It is important to understand that children can be taught coping skills and how to manage their emotions and anxiety.