School Anxiety


For parents and carers

  • Being anxious about school and not wanting to go can start for any number of reasons: it might be because of worries about exams, friends, bullying or can easily be triggered after a period of illness and having 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 parents if it involves others. Try to encourage a conversation 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) and 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 the Year.

Top tips

For young people who struggle with school

School can be stressful at any age and it’s often not easy to talk to your parents about problems, especially if they involve other people at school or you don’t want to get other people into trouble. Struggling by yourself can be very lonely though, so if you can find someone to talk things over with, you can often find a way forward.
If you don’t feel you can talk to someone, you could try the 1-2-1 chat option on Childline or their message board (Childline is for young people up to the age of 19 years) Or check out some other helpline/text chat options. Schools can often try to help you too, for example, if you tend to panic in big exam halls or if you need help with study skills. Have a look at the links here to see if there is something that will help you:


The Parents’ Lounge discusses school refusal: