Last updated on Jun 22nd, 2021 at 11:18 am

Refusing to attend school often affects children of about five or six years of age – and sometimes appears in the older (10-11) age group…..

Underlying reasons for refusing to go to school

Fear of school can be brought on by a stressful event such as the parent’s divorce, moving or loss of a pet. The child may have been scolded or bullied at school. School refusal must be dealt with immediately or it can cause long-term problems for the child concerned such as lack of confidence in dealing with peers or strangers. The child can also become so behind in his/her schoolwork that it is difficult to catch up, which further impacts on his/her self esteem.

Your child may complain of a sore head or tummy


The child who refuses to go to school will often complain of feeling sick or having a headache. Symptoms may clear up during the day, only to return the next morning.  
As a first step, take your child to the doctor just to make sure there is no real illness. Once that has been established, make an appoinment with the teacher (without your child) Sometimes it only takes a little more attention from the teacher to make a child feel welcomed and safe at school. This is also an opportunity to ask if the teacher has noticed any bullying in the classroom.

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Encourage friendships through play dates

Inviting friends home to play is often a great idea. Your child then forms a bond with another child and has someone to go to when you drop him/her off at school in the mornings. It may help if you walk the child to school and promise to meet him/her at home-time, to make them feel more secure about separating from you during the day. But make sure you keep the promise and are not late, or you will have anxiety problems to deal with too.  If the problem persists, the advice of a counsellor should be sought, but be comforted in the knowledge that this is a passing (although difficult or traumatic) stage in your little boy or girlâ??s life and most children overcome their reluctance to attend school once they discover an activity they enjoy and friends of their own.