Is it ADHD or something else?

48: What is School Refusal and How to Deal With It?

Recent research studies show that 5% of school children will refuse to go to school at some point, compared to a percentage of 1% from research studies 20 years ago.


Recent research studies show that 5% of school children will refuse to go to school at some point, compared to a percentage of 1% from research studies 20 years ago. 

The number of kids refusing to go to school has increased lately. As a result, parents are getting more worried as it continues to be a significant and ever-growing problem, causing many issues in different aspects.

Today, we'll be talking more about school refusal and how to help families who are clueless or finding it difficult to deal with issues concerning school refusal.

What are some real-world signs of school refusal?

Besides generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, and other mental health issues, kids who refuse to go to school usually exhibit gastrointestinal symptoms.

Some kids experience vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and other similar conditions the night before the day they have to go to school. Others have sleep problems and physical problems like chest pain, body pain, headaches, and even high blood pressure, which tends to be heightened before going to school.

When you're in a hijacked state, you're not going to think clearly, and you're going to go

Kids with a history of bullying or experiencing social problems are at a higher risk for school refusal. They have these intrusive thoughts and irrational fears that cloud their mind often. 

If our kids have all these irrational fears in their heads, their bodies and brains will be hijacked. Once in that state, they won't be able to think clearly, leading them to be in survival mode, which prevents them from wanting to attend school.

Best tips for managing school refusal

Just like in any other issue, we need to trace the root cause of the problem. But first, we must understand why our kids refuse to attend school and where their refusal comes from.

Another tip that I highly recommend is for you to calm the brain. Our previous episodes emphasized the importance of regulating and calming the brain in dealing with different mental health problems.

We have also mentioned that when our minds are overwhelmed with intrusive thoughts and irrational fear, we can't think straight. So sometimes, we end up being in a fight, flight, or freeze mode wherein we don't think properly or learn.

That's why calming the brain is important, and we can achieve this in various ways – neurofeedback, biofeedback, meditation, and more. But, unfortunately, there's no shortcut to calming the brain. It takes some getting used to as well. It's not going to be like magic that's going to treat your child in a matter of only a few weeks. 

Another thing that parents should do is to talk to their kids more frequently. As much as possible, we want our children to be able to seek comfort in us and confide in us. There's nothing better than being able to hear your child's concerns without any fear or worry.

We also need to devise a plan to avoid severe school refusal. What we want to do is to have structured activities at home as a routine. For example, you could let them listen to audiobooks and educational podcasts. Letting them be creative through arts and crafts is also a good idea. 

Another tip is to set your priorities straight. For example, rather than stopping the prolonged school absence of your child and making them not avoid school anymore, the main goal should be getting their mental health back on track.

You may also seek help from the school and partner with school staff through parent-teacher interventions or consulting with your child's school psychologist about stressful school events that may be why your child refuses to go to school. But, again, it would help to identify problems early and assess your child's difficulties, especially during school hours.

Lastly, seek help from a mental health professional with expertise in child therapy to treat school refusal or prevent your child's behavioral patterns from leading to school refusal behavior. 

No matter where you are in your journey, we have resources to help you:

Links and Resources:

➡️ Join our FREE Natural Parenting Community to receive science-backed resources for your child and family. Join here.

➡️ Get help from Dr. Roseann and her team. Apply here. 

➡️ “Is it ADHD or something else?” Take the quiz. 

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