Veteran mentor leads a class on the importance of going to school

What to do if your child refuses to go to school

What to do if your child refuses to go to school

Let’s be real, not every kid jumps out of bed keen as can be to get to school each morning. While it’s understandable for children not to want to go to school here and there (and a grumble or complaint while getting up each morning can be expected), they may be trying to tell you something if they continuously put up school refusal. Let’s look at what to do if your child refuses to go to school.


Reasons why kids might refuse to go to school

There are a lot of reasons why your child or teenager might refuse to go to school.

Their problems could be school-related: perhaps they don’t like their teacher, they’re being bullied, don’t have friends, or they feel embarrassed in front of their classmates. 

They might also be experiencing feelings of anxiety and struggle with leaving the safety of their home each day.

No matter the reason, while missing school can provide quick relief for anxiety, continually missing classes can cause more problems in the long run.


What are the repercussions of missing school?

Unfortunately, allowing your child or teenager to repeatedly stay home from school can cause more issues than it solves. 

It can be hard to force your child to go to school when they’re upset, but staying at home means missing classes, spending more time catching up, missing valuable key information for exams or assignments, and missing out on the social side of things. 

Allowing an easy way out rather than facing the things that might make them uncomfortable can affect a child’s self-confidence and resilience later in life. 

Not to mention, in Australia, it is required by law that school-age children attend school. So, all in all, missing out on school repeatedly for no good reason will only make school become more and more daunting. 


What to do if your child refuses to go to school

Start the conversation

The first thing you should do is talk to your child about why they’re refusing to go to school. It’s important to start this conversation in a kind and supportive way and pick your timing well (not on a school morning). 

Sit them down and approach the conversation with something along the lines of: 

“I’ve noticed you don’t want to go to school more often than not. I want to make sure you’re okay, and whether there’s anything, in particular, causing you to feel worried or uncomfortable?”

Hopefully, your child recognises your nurturing approach and is happy to engage in a constructive conversation.

From here, make sure to:

  • Actively listen to everything they tell you
  • Validate their feelings
  • Share your own stories
  • Ask them how you can help improve their experience at school


Consider reaching out for help

If you’re able to get the information out of your child, or perhaps you’re finding it difficult, it might be more beneficial to discuss your concerns with their teacher.

Additionally, if you find that your child is dealing with feelings of anxiety, talk to your GP. Depending on the degree to which your child may suffer from anxiety and refuse to go to school because of it, your GP may refer them to see a counsellor or psychologist.

Understanding what to do if your child refuses to go to school and addressing the issue(s) as early as possible will benefit your child enormously. 

If you found this article helpful, you might also like Tips for having difficult conversations with your child

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