School refusal or school anxiety can start for any number of reasons: it might be because your child is worried about school work, friends, bullying or can even be triggered after a period of illness where your child has had to stay off school.
It is often hard for young people to express why they feel the way they do and they may be worried about telling you if it involves others, but it is important that they are encouraged to talk so you can make a plan together. While avoiding school is understandable if it causes anxiety, it becomes very hard to go back to school once you’ve been off for a while. Parents need to try and tread the very fine line between being sensitive to their child’s needs and worries (and not dismissing them), while being aware that avoidance tends to make the problem worse. Consider looking at our other pages on anxiety, bullying and social media if that may be relevant.
If your child is refusing to go to school, the first place to turn to is your child’s school. Find out from the school who is the best person to talk to. It may be the Special Educational Needs worker (SENCO), the Headteacher, the class teacher or the Head of Year.
Overcoming School RefusalA practical guide for teachers, counsellors, caseworkers and parents by Joanne Garfi. Written by a psychologist who has spent 30 years helping children who school refusal, it is well indexed giving advice for parents and schools on how to tackle this issue.