School Refusal Tips for Parents
If your child is experiencing anxiety going to school, believe it or not, it’s more common than you think.
In most cases, symptoms of school refusal include a child that complains of physical symptoms right before it is time to go to school or a child that is constantly visiting the school nurse.
If you allow your child to remain home, you will discover these so-called symptoms disappear quickly, only to reappear once more the next morning, before school. It’s not unusual to consider truancy, but it’s important to recognize the difference between truancy and school refusal.
Some of the most common physical symptoms of school refusal include:
- Stomach aches
Some of the other school refusal symptoms you may encounter include avoidance, separation anxiety, inflexibility, defiance, and tantrums.
While there are countless resources out there to help children manage school refusal, there is little information for parents. Here, you can find some school refusal tips for parents so you can better manage this situation and encourage your child to go to school without confrontation.
10 School Refusal Tips for Parents
1. Stay Calm
The worst thing you can do if your child is suffering from school refusal symptoms is to get angry or overwhelmed by the situation. While it’s important to respect the fears your child has, you need to let them know that you aren’t afraid and you are available to help.
2. Ask Questions
Find out why your child is refusing to go to school.
Are they nervous or anxious about just one thing, or several things? Is your child actually in some sort of danger? Getting to the bottom of why your child doesn’t want to go to school may provide you with a solution.
3. Talk to Administration at the School
There are many reasons that your child may be afraid when it comes to attending school.
If you discover the problem is one that can be helped, speak to school administration and the child’s teacher. Having an IEP created may be beneficial, as this will ensure cooperation for the issue at hand.
4. Encourage Your Child
As a parent, it is crucial that you encourage your child to go to school every, single day – even if they only go for an hour.
If you allow your child to continue staying home, it may reinforce their notion that the school is actually dangerous. In some cases, the child may be allowed to sit in the library, lunchroom or another area with a parent or trusted adult. The goal is to get the child to go and stay at school by using helpful and patient school refusal intervention tactics.
5. Take Small Steps
You need to try and take small steps with your child, helping them move past what’s making them uncomfortable. However, don’t overdo it. Many psychologists agree it’s better to be overly lenient than overly harsh.
6. Hire a Tutor
If you have a child who is at risk of falling behind in school, then a smart move may be to hire a tutor.
If they fall behind, it is only going to increase their anxiety, making it more difficult for them to return to school in the future.
Even if a parent is qualified to provide academic instruction, working with someone else can be an extremely crucial step in getting them back inside their normal school and classroom.
7. Partial Successes Count
It’s a good idea to emphasize and reward partial successes.
You can promise your child a new toy or ice cream if they spend an hour at school. Be sure that they receive a reward even on days they run screaming for the door as soon as the hour has passed.
If the child is unable to stay for the entire hour, then commend their attempt and encourage them to try once more the next day. This has to continue if you want to successfully get your child in the classroom for good.
8. Expect and Work with Setbacks
There are going to be setbacks. While you should expect them, it’s still important that you are consistent with your efforts.
If your child is unable to keep up with the efforts, or if they are unable to make new progress, offer acceptance and support. However, you should never stop letting them know your expectations – which is for them to return to school.
9. Replace the Child’s Crutches
Every child is going to have certain crutches, such as eating in the classroom or coming home early. Replace these with coping tools that will be more effective.
Help your children not only understand the source of their anxiety but also accept it. You can also teach them how to use various anxiety relaxation techniques to overcome the issues related to cases of school refusal.
10. Encourage a Positive Environment
When your child can learn in an environment of positivity, they have a healthier experience. This is especially true if you child has been diagnosed ADHD, dyslexia or other conditions that can make learning more challenging. Give your child an environment that minimizes failures with options such as small classes, minimal distractions and individualized attention throughout the day. This environment is sometimes best found at a private school for kids with learning disabilities, but there are ways to recreate it as well.
Helping Parents With School Refusal Tips
As a parent, it can be difficult to watch your child suffer and struggle to feel comfortable. If your child fits the symptoms of school refusal, then you may feel as though your hands are tied. This doesn’t have to be the case.
By using the information and school refusal tips for parents found here, you have suggestions that will help you, help your child.
In the future, you may be able to get them back into the classroom successfully – the ultimate goal for most of these situations. The sad part is that as children are exposed to news and stories of school tragedies, school refusal is becoming more and more common.
It’s up to you as parents to take action to ensure your child remains in the classroom.
You may also be interested in these related articles: