Is your teen skipping school? It could be school refusal

If your teen skips school constantly, it may be just because they are truant and don’t care about their education. But it could be a sign of something more. School refusal is a problem that usually coincides with serious psychiatric issues such as anxiety and depression. It’s a serious issue that can have negative repercussions  on your teen’s future.

School refusal vs. truancy

The difference between school refusal and truancy is that kids who suffer with school refusal have a fear of going to school. They want to stay home and not do anything else. They may feel sick in the mornings before school and actively refuse to go to school.

school refusal

Image source- Flickr user: kb35

Kids dealing with school refusal show a willingness to do schoolwork and may do work at home. Truancy, on the other hand, stems from a desire to skip school for the sake of skipping school. Teens who are truants go off and hang out with their friends somewhere instead of going to school. They don’t care about their grades and try to conceal their absence from school from their parents.

Why does school refusal happen?

School refusal occurs when a child has some sort of fear about going to school. Reasons for refusing to attend school include:

  • Problems at school such as bullying, not having any friends, learning problems, not liking the teacher, and not knowing the way around school
  • Fear of losing their parent, either because of marital issues, illness, or because they know someone whose parents split up or died.
  • Separation anxiety
  • Coming to a new school, such as entering high school or middle school

What can you do to help?

Helping your teen struggling with school refusal issues may be quite difficult. Here are a few ways you can help your teen:

  1. Encourage your teen to tell you about his or her fears and worries about going to school. This way, you can get down to the root of the issue.
  2. Ask your teen what they think might help getting over this issue.
  3. Let your teen know that you care about how they feel. Don’t mock their feelings, and try to be as understanding as possible. Listen to what they have to say about their fears instead of laughing at them.
  4. Be firm with your teen in the morning when they complain of physical symptoms. Once your teen attends school regularly, their symptoms may begin to disappear.

Elevations RTC can help

Elevations RTC, a residential treatment center for  teens ages 13-17 struggling with behavioral and emotional struggles such as anxiety, school refusal issues, depression, and substance use problems.

For more information about Elevations RTC, please call .


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