Truancy & School Refusal

Helping Anxious Kids Cope

Why won’t my kid go to school? There are a variety of factors that might contribute to truancy or school refusal.  Especially post-COVID, more and more children and teens are struggling to go to school consistently.  At the same time, school officials are cracking down, and parents are left wondering how much do I push?  What can I do to help?  

Often anxiety is the driver behind school refusal.  What may seem like disobedience or defiance can sometimes be linked to a traumatic event, grief, or underlying fears.  Sometimes children refusing to go to school may be struggling with bullying or may have anxiety, depression, OCD, a learning disability, a sleep disorder, or separation anxiety.

Whatever the cause, counseling can help come alongside parents and school officials to help children successfully return to school consistently.

Children often struggle to articulate their aversion to school leaving parents confused.  Common symptoms of school refusal include:

  • Tantrums, panic, or crying either the night before or morning of school
  • Frequent calls from the nurse’s office or teacher
  • Somatic symptoms like stomach aches and headaches that seem more intense on school days
  • Pleas and bargaining with parents to homeschool or do virtual school

Truancy is different from school refusal but often school officials, parents, and the law struggle to differentiate the two.  Rather than have children and teens labeled as truant, it is worth reaching out for support from a therapist to rule out school refusal.  Often children who are labeled as truant are not being defiant but have an underlying, untreated emotional condition.

Get help for your child or teen.

Benefits of getting professional help include:

  • providing children and teens a safe space to speak privately about emotional distress
  • parents feel supported and gain clarity to better assist
  • development of coping skills to manage unwanted emotions
  • gaining assessment and referral to other health professionals as needed
  • coordination of care with schools and other community agencies to provide wrap around support