School refusal

School refusal defined

School refusal is the severe emotional distress experienced by a child or teen at the idea of attending school. It can result in significant school absence, which can make a child suffer both academically and socially. The difference between school refusal and truancy is that children and teens with school refusal have a fear of going to school, whereas truant children don’t go to school for reasons other than fear.

School refusal is a symptom of other disorders and issues including depression, social anxiety and separation anxiety. If your child has school refusal issues, they may display symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and an upset stomach before school every day. When they get to school these symptoms may disappear.

If your child displays signs of school refusal, get a comprehensive diagnostic assessment to find out what is causing your child’s symptoms. From there, children with school avoidance symptoms oftentimes go through cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps children face their fears, or exposure therapy which slowly reintroduces them to being in a school environment.

School refusal and Elevations RTC school refusal

Elevations RTC, a residential treatment center,  promotes a strong peer culture model that helps teens with school avoidance issues learn to appreciate their peers and get excited about learning. Through advanced therapy techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, Elevations RTC helps students with school refusal face their anxieties and fears. After attending Elevations RTC, your teen will go to school with a smile on their face.

Additionally, Elevations RTC utilizes a holistic approach in treating struggling teens. With this approach, teens learn how each element in their lives connect with each other.


A study conducted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas found that families with children who exhibited signs of school avoidance were also less likely to be involved in social and recreational activities and less interested in political, intellectual and cultural activities. Additionally, a majority of the 215 middle and high school youth aged 11-17 years,  studied felt they had familial relationships filled with conflict.

Contemporary articles

An article in CBS News discusses the causes and effects of school refusal and what parents can do for their children who experience symptoms of it. Dr. Jennifer Harstein describes how relaxation techniques can help calm children before they go off to school. She also talks about the specific causes of school refusal which include: stressful households, bullying or impending family trauma.

Defined by…





Your Little Professor

Family Help and Wellness


The relationship between the functions of school refusal behavior and family environment

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The Elevations Team

Want to learn more about how Elevations can guide your teen with specialized, compassionate care? Contact us today!

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