Understanding School Refusal

school refusal 1

Reading time: 6 minutes

Suitable for: Families with children of all ages

It’s very common for children to not want to go to school from time to time. They might feel under the weather or be struggling with friendships, schoolwork, or bullying. School can be a difficult place to be sometimes.

But for some children, these anxious feelings can build up until they are unable to go to school. This is often called “school refusal”. The word “refusal” suggests your child is making a choice about attending, but actually they feel unable to go to school. It can also be known as “emotionally based school avoidance” (EBSA). Someone who misses 10% or more of school is considered a “persistent absentee”.

Why some children struggle with school

There are many reasons why some children feel unable to go to school. These can include problems within school, like struggling with work or facing bullying. Moving school, greater responsibilities, or academic challenges as they get older can feel like too much change and challenge to handle.

Difficulties at home, such as a bereavement or family breakup, a new sibling or moving home can also have an impact. Many families are facing financial strains, which can place stress on the whole family.

Some children may struggle with school because of a mental health condition like depression, or if they are neurodivergent, such as having ADHD or being autistic and haven’t got the right support in place at school.  

There are many reasons for children being persistently absent from school. Often, it’s a combination of worries and difficulties that can make it feel impossible to go through the gates in the morning. But whatever the reasons behind it, there are lots of things you can do to support your child.


 

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