Students exhibiting school refusal must understand that you as the parent consider school attendance NON-NEGOTIABLE. If you allow them to stay home one day because they are making a big fuss about going in, they will remember that and put up an even bigger fuss next time hoping it will work again. This will become very tiresome and frustrating for you!
Here are some important steps to take if your child is exhibiting school refusal:
1. Talk to your child.
Ask them why they do not want to go to school. See if you can help them work
out a solution to any problems they are facing at school. If it is a separation
anxiety problem, sending your child to school with a special item to remember
you by can be helpful (a photo, perhaps). Work out ways to spend quality time
together at home.
2. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO STAY HOME.
Unless your child is sick, we highly recommend being very matter-of-fact about
school attendance and getting them to school on time every day. Remember,
you are the parent and you get to make the rules! Help your child understand that this is a non-negotiable rule and the law requires they come to school unless they are sick.
3. Talk to your child’s teacher.
The teacher knows a lot about what is going on in the classroom. He or she may
have some helpful insight. In addition, the teacher can help with the morning
transition and provide lots of positive reinforcement for showing up to school on
time. Some teachers allow students to come in a bit early if that helps with the
transition, but not all teachers can offer this.
4. Better late than never!
If you have a hard morning with your child and you’re running late (even by hours!), we still want to see that child in school! Let your child know that their teacher will be happy to see them, even if they’re late.
If over a sustained period of time your child is being physical (kicking, punching, pushing, etc.) or actively refusing to move, you need professional assistance. At school, contact the child's teacher and the social worker. Seeing an outside therapist could also be helpful, and there are programs to assist students exhibiting severe school refusal.