Combatting School Refusal

A Parents Guide to Supporting your Child when they Refuse to go to School

“I don’t want to go to school!” I’m sure as a parent, you’ve heard this before. Every child has days where they just don’t want to go to school. School refusal can run the gamut from simple ie… “I didn’t get my homework done” to complex ie… “I’m scared for my safety”. But when it becomes a habit, it may be time to consider if a deeper issue is at hand.

Habitual school refusal can have multiple causes, including but not limited to:
-Anxiety
-Depression
-Bullying
-Academic struggles
-Social isolation
-Safety
-Bullying
-Undiagnosed learning disability
-Undiagnosed learning disability

As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing school refusal. However, here are some general strategies that can be helpful in handling school refusal:

Identify the
Underlying CauseThe first step in addressing school refusal is to identify the underlying cause. Talk to your child to understand why they are refusing to go to school. Is it due to anxiety, academic struggles, or social difficulties?
Develop a PlanOnce you have identified the cause, work with your child’s school and mental health professionals to develop a plan you can engage in with your child. This plan might include accommodations, such as modifications to class schedules or homework, or therapy to address the underlying emotional issues.
Establish a RoutineEstablish a consistent routine for your child that includes regular wake-up times, meal times, and bedtimes. This can help them feel more in control and reduce anxiety.
Encourage AttendanceEncourage your child to attend school regularly, even if it is just for a short time. As they acclimate to small chunks of time, gradually increase the amount of time they spend at school. This will help them adjust and suddenly a full day of school won’t look so daunting.
Provide SupportProvide your child with emotional support and positive reinforcement for attending school. Celebrate even the small achievements of simply showing up or making it through a class! Recognize and affirm their efforts and achievements, and provide opportunities for them to socialize with peers outside of school. Deepening connection with peers may increase your child’s desire to go to school.

The clinical team at Decade2Connect sees children dealing with school refusal on a daily basis and is a valuable resource in supporting your child. Connect with a member of our team if you need additional support – we’re here to connect your child with themselves, their family and their community!

Our Intensive Outpatient Program is in-network with United!