What To Do When Your Teenager Refuses To Go To School

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What To Do When Your Teenager Refuses To Go To School | We often think of school anxiety and school refusal as childhood challenges, but the truth is that tweens and teens can and do go through these emotions too. Buying, conflict and rejection from peers, major life events, academic pressures, and lack of sleep are a few reasons your teen may suddenly be faking illnesses or flat our refusing to get up and go to school. Not sure how to cope? We've got you covered. Click for 9 tips to try!

Is your teen refusing to go to school? It can be frustrating and disheartening to deal with school refusal, and it’s important to get to the heart of the matter. Some teens don’t want to go because they have conflict with classmates, some are victims of bullying, and others could be experiencing mental health issues that are impacting their ability to cope with social situations and a big workload. For some students, school feels so difficult or overwhelming that they experience significant distress about attending school and refuse to go. If you don’t know what to do when your teenager refuses to go to school, we’ve rounded up some helpful tips for you.

9 Common Reasons for School Refusal in Teenagers

  1. Bullying
  2. Mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD
  3. Conflict with friends or rejection from peers
  4. Lack of good supportive friendships
  5. Family problems/major life events at home (divorce, moving, the death of a family member)
  6. Academic issues or problems with teachers
  7. Falling or failing grades
  8. Worrying about keeping up with schoolwork
  9. Lack of sleep and feeling overly fatigued

What To Do When Your Teenager Refuses To Go To School

1. Encourage Open Conversation
It’s important that you’re aware of what your teen is going through and how they’re feeling. Encourage them to open up to you about why they don’t want to go to school. They could be dealing with anything from being bullied to worrying about public speaking to feeling like they don’t have any friends. Let them know you’re not there to judge them but want to understand what’s going on so you can help.

2. Step in Quickly
Missed schoolwork can quickly snowball, making school refusal more difficult to control. As soon as you’re aware that your child is consistently missing school, skipping classes, or not staying for the full day, step in. The longer it goes on the tougher it will be to manage and for your teen to catch up.

3. Establish a Morning and Nighttime Routine
Having a stable routine in place can help your teen feel a sense of stability. Sit down with them to create a morning and nighttime schedule that encompasses everything that needs to get done. Consider including relaxation techniques such as reading or meditation to help reduce stress and anxiety. Regular meal times, sleep times, and having a couple hours of no-phone time at night can also be helpful.

4. Be Clear About Expectations and Set Limits
The thing is, going to school is the law and it’s your child’s responsibility to get an education. Make sure to give clear and consistent messages about your expectation that your teen goes to school, and set limits if they skip. Use language like “you need to go to school, even if you don’t want to”, “ I know you don’t want to go to school, but not going is not an option” and “going to school is your responsibility”.

Expect to experience some pushback, and be ready with consequences such as taking away access to their phone, setting a curfew or taking away social time with friends. On the flip side, setting rewards for school attendance and getting good grades can also be helpful.

5. Be Committed to Getting Them to School
It’s important that you make it clear that not going to school is not an option. Be kind and empathic but firm, and assure your teen that you’re confident they can face their fears. If your teen experiences anxiety, it’s important that they learn that they can persevere and do what they need to do when they’re experiencing anxiety. Avoiding school isn’t the answer. Physical symptoms often ease when people face their fears. Learning this firsthand can help empower your teen.

6. Get Your Teen’s School Involved
If it doesn’t seem like the issue will be solved at home, work with your teen’s school on management plans to help find solutions. These may include regular meetings for your teen with a school counsellor, lesson plans being shared with you to help your teen keep up, your teen being excused from activities that make them feel overwhelmed, creating a school return plan (for example starting with half days and gradually increasing), and offering modified curriculums.

7. Help Them Cultivate Relationships
If your teen is struggling to make friends, help them find opportunities to cultivate relationships. This can start with building strong relationships with siblings and family members. Being engaged in extracurriculars or volunteering is another opportunity for your teen to make friends with like minded teens. Having strong relationships outside of school can make school more manageable as they know they have supportive people in their life. Having good relationships will make them feel happy and benefit their mental health.

8. Consider Therapy
Therapy can be helpful in a number of situations. If your teen is experiencing anxiety or depression, or having issues with friends, a professional counsellor can help them learn ways to cope. If your teen finds it difficult to handle distress experienced at school, look into cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), relaxation therapy, or social skills training treatment. Connect with your teen’s school board who should be able to offer mental health resources and support.

9. Encourage Healthy Habits
There are so many advantages of healthy habits that can benefit your teen. Encourage regular exercise and a well balanced diet. Try to get them moving everyday and ensure they’re eating nutritious meals and avoiding processed foods and added sugars. Make sure they’re getting plenty of sleep (this is a great resource about teens and sleep). This may mean setting an earlier bedtime or taking devices away so they don’t stay up late scrolling.

Encourage them to find a passion and practice it regularly, whether it’s a sport, hobby, or other activity, extracurriculars can bring friendships and joy. Also encourage them to schedule social time with their friends. All of these things can boost your teen’s mental health and make it easier for them to go to school.

It can be a serious struggle dealing with a teenager that refuses to go to school. It’s important to get to the root of the issue to help them in the most effective way.

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What To Do When Your Teenager Refuses To Go To School | We often think of school anxiety and school refusal as childhood challenges, but the truth is that tweens and teens can and do go through these emotions too. Buying, conflict and rejection from peers, major life events, academic pressures, and lack of sleep are a few reasons your teen may suddenly be faking illnesses or flat our refusing to get up and go to school. Not sure how to cope? We've got you covered. Click for 9 tips to try!

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