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What to do when your child refuses to go to school
- By: Annmarie Dadoly, Former Editor, Harvard Health
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
I was having the same problem with my kid. She doesnt like to go to school because she is afraid that people will not be kind to her and of course explaining cant be worthy at this time. I accompanied her at school but never really attended inside the room.
I work at an online school and we have a handful of students that have been previously unsuccessful at their traditional school. Some students thrive in an alternative environment. Online schools are one option for students who experience severe school anxiety.
I am lucky I never had this problem myself, but many parent of kids with Asperger’s have this problem with their kids. Kids with Asperger’s have sensory challenges, and school can feel like a minefield to them. Everything is too loud, bright, and busy. Kids with Asperger’s are also very susceptible to bullying and this can of course also make a child develop a school phobia. Combine that with impatient teachers who don’t understand a child’s particular special needs,and you have yourself a recipe for potential disaster.
IEP plans are important for those with special needs so that their needs can be addressed. Try to find one adult in the school that the child connects with so they will have a “safe spot” of sorts in the school.
I have Asperger’s, and this is what helped me be able to handle school at that age.
Apologies for the typo,the first link was not supposed to be there. The 2nd link is correct.
I have not experienced this problem. After reading the artical, I extend my sympathy to all affected by this problem.
Bit of separation anxiety going in very young children as it is often the first time they have ever been without at least one parent.
Glad to see your mention of CBT here.
Drugs should be an absolute last resort.
Often it is suggested as a first treatment method.. sadly.
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there is another reason not talked about in this article, and that is when a child is merely responding to the ‘vibes’ a parent puts out — ie, wanting the child to stay home with them. i am not talking about a physically ill parent, i am talking about a parent who is using this child as a substitute spouse. the parent will typically complain about the child’s school refusal, but will send many, many COVERT messages to the child to stay home. this is a very serious and common problem that schools overlook. it is more common than it seems. if all else is ruled out, ie, bullying, a critical teacher, etc., and this problem continues on, then a competent therapist needs to address issues with the parents. the child is merely the identified patient in these cases.
My dad used to scream so loudly at me if I refused to go to school. It only added more anxiety, fear, and hate to school. It did not made me a better student at all. As I grew up and started thinking of marriage and kids, I thought about issues like this and didn’t know what I’d do. If I didn’t read this article, I think I would do what my dad did to me in case of my kids refusing school because it’d be the only way I knew.
But not now.
Thank you Ann!
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