5 Reasons for School Avoidance and Refusal (And How to Handle It)

School avoidance and refusal, often referred to as school phobia, occurs in about five percent of children and can last well into the teen years. Many troubled teens with this issue refuse to attend school and create (often logical) reasons why they can’t and shouldn’t go.

What’s it Look Like?

In order to avoid attending school, many troubled teens complain of not feeling well, with symptoms that are not easy to confirm, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperventilation

Most often, these symptoms don’t have physical symptoms, like vomiting, weight loss or fever. The symptoms are most often anxiety-based and occur on school days, but not on weekends.

Causes of School-Related Anxiety

In most cases, teens who attempt to avoid school attendance (or completely refuse to go) are often facing a school-related anxiety. The symptoms they complain of may be used to communicate the emotional issues they’re experiencing. Some of the most common causes of school-related anxiety are:

  • Fear of failure- Such as a failing a test that will take place that day
  • Issues with bullying from others
  • Trouble with teachers- Some teens may avoid school due to a perceived poor relationship with a teacher
  • To escape unpleasant social situations- This can include projects at school that place them in situations where they have to read, speak or even stand in front of others
  • To escape the ridicule of a situation that has already occurred- Such as being made fun of by peers for an embarrassing moment
  • To avoid a dangerous situation -Such as another student who threatens them or an adult who frightens or pressures them in some way

Almost 25 percent of all teens will engage in some type of school refusal during their school years. Teens who refuse to attend school often fall behind in their classes. This can make it difficult for them to meet academic milestones and may result in being held back. Many of these teens have trouble maintaining friendships because of their time away from school.

What Parents Can Do 

If your daughter presents with any of these symptoms, the first thing you should do is have a doctor evaluate her to ensure her symptoms are not the result of a physical problem. If they aren’t, talk to your daughter about what anxiety-related issues may be preventing her from enjoying school.

Keep in mind that many children and teens with anxieties don’t understand exactly what they’re feeling, or why. Your daughter may have trouble expressing her emotions. To help her, ask specific questions about what may be happening at school. If you can gain insight into the issue, you can take steps to get her back in school, including:

  • Making sure she understands the importance of school.
  • Discussing the issues (for as long as she needs you to) in a sympathetic, supportive way.
  • Talk to her principal, teachers and the school nurse. Work with them to create a plan that gets your daughter back in school, but also creates a safe environment in which she can return.
  • Be committed to discovering the root cause of her ‘school avoidance.’ It could be a serious matter and forcing her to attend may be something you regret later.

Getting Help With Greenbrier Girls’ Boarding School

If your daughter experiences severe anxiety about attending school, she may benefit from a different environment in which to learn. At our girls’ boarding school, your daughter will have the opportunity to enjoy a positive, empowering atmosphere while also working with a licensed therapist who can help her uncover the reasons for her anxiety.

Want to learn more? Call 1-877-788-8422 now.

Leave a Comment