School Refusal, School Phobia, both are terms relating to a child or teenager who finds it impossible to get to school. This can quickly result in them missing days and weeks off school, and if not addressed quickly, will often lead into missing whole terms off school. And of course, the longer it goes on for, the harder it becomes for them to get back to school. This causes major conflict in the household and causes major distress for everyone.
A quick Google search reveals how common it is, with treatment plans, page-long tips for parents, references to Anxiety, Autism, Learning Difficulties, Bullying – it’s very easy to see how overwhelming and complex it becomes. Coupled with the fact the student can’t explain why they find it so hard to get to school. It’s no wonder parents are at a loss as to what to do.
Of great concern was an interview I read recently (published on the ABC News website) with a therapist who has started a clinic specialising in the treatment of school refusal, where they claim the condition is so complex that it will usually take many sessions (some of which involved playing with the therapists dog in a park!) over many months to get to the bottom of the issues, and then you can still expect only slight progress. Of course the big issue with this gentle softly softly approach is that the longer the child is away from school, the harder it becomes to get them back.
Far be it for me to criticise another’s treatment approach, however this blog is about letting parents know there are other options, and sometimes they’re far less costly and much less time consuming. In taking a very different approach to the standard ‘tips for parents’ and ‘playing with the therapist’s dog in a park’, you can reasonably expect your child to get back to school much sooner than you think.
Keys to Treating School Refusal
- Act Quickly – the longer the child is away from school, the harder it becomes getting them back.
- Don’t accept any lowering of expectations e.g. only coming back for some lessons, dropping subjects, finishing the day early.
- Don’t get bamboozled by all the possible excuses – rarely is there a good enough reason for not going to school.
- Ensure everyone is united in the one goal – getting the student back to full-time school immediately.