My Child Refuses To Go To School

Mar 24, 2015

As a parent what can I do when my child has suddenly decided they no longer want go to school?

When a child has repeated days off school due to an unwillingness to go, this is called school refusal. In most cases your child is not being rebellious or disobedient. It is more likely they are reacting to a specific problem that they are not able to deal with. It should be noted that around 9% of Australian children will engage in school refusal at some point during their primary and secondary years. Transitions such as moving from primary to secondary school can be times when children are vulnerable to engaging in this behavior. Young children or adolescents may not always be able to articulate what the specific problem is, however, that does not mean one doesn’t exist. Furthermore, children often have a skewed perception that causes them to believe that their parents are unable to really help.

Types of issues:

  • Bullying
  • Fear of being embarrassed
  • Separation issues
  • Learning problems
  • No friends

As a parent what can I do?

Try not to get angry. Believe your child when they tell you they are having a specific problem. Acknowledge that there is a real issue, even when they can’t seem to explain the issue. If the problem is solvable take the necessary steps to fix the problem. Seek professional help with a registered psychologist. Seek support from the school principle and develop a graduated plan to get your child to school.

What not to do

Don’t ignore an established problem otherwise things could become worse. Remember a child who has repeated days off school is unlikely to return by their own volition. Finally, with professional help, in most cases school refusal can be successfully treated.

Terry Rundell is a Psychologist at Embrace Life and has years of experience working with children, teens and adults.