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School RefusalIs it difficult to get your student to come to school or stay in school?  These could be signs of school refusal. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), school refusal occurs more often after vacations, weekends, or at the beginning and end of the school year.  School refusal is often the result of some kind of anxiety, and avoiding school can heighten stress levels and indicate a deeper struggle with mental health.  Fortunately, parents and school staff can work together to notice the signs of school refusal and implement intervention strategies to help get students back to school and in class.

6 signs of school refusal (from Rogers Behavioral Health):

  1. Habitually absent from school

  2. Goes to school but has difficulty staying due to crying, clinging, or tantrums

  3. Becomes distressed during the school day and begs to go home

  4. Frequently visits the nurse’s office

  5. Often complains of stomach aches, headaches, or other physical symptoms at home to avoid going to school

  6. Avoids contact with classmates or teachers

What parents can do (from Psychology Today):

  • Set up regular evening and morning routines

  • Reinforce positive behaviors (for example, participation efforts) and ignore negative behaviors (for example, whining and crying)

  • Act as a supportive partner and listener; do not shame your student for not wanting to go to school

  • Talk to your student about their reasons for not wanting to go to school and brainstorm strategies for school problems, such as bullies and problems with teachers, and rehearse reponses to those problems

  • Talk about positive aspects of school, like friends or a favorite subject, without ignoring your student’s negative feelings

  • Help your student build a support system and help them find new activities they enjoy so they can meet like-minded students

  • Arrange a meeting with a Student Services staff member or therapist

    • Susan Kaye, School Social Worker

    • Melanie Salgado, School Psychologist

    • Katy Ainslie-Wallace, School Counselor

  • Meet with your student’s teachers to discuss the problem

Some resources: