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Monday, August 29, 2011

School Refusal

Some families have a child who has a problem attending school.

Here is a brief recognition and overview of this problem that is a tremendous challenge to the families who find themselves faced with it: A child who cannot or will not actively participate in school.  It is stressful for parents  because they worry about the child's future.  The problem can be significant and effects, not only the child's educational/academic future but also their emotional and social development.  These are long-term effects.
Of course, like everything I address on this blog, there are always exceptions.  Some kids will do fine with an alternative source of education.  But, by and large, not attending school is a sign of a disturbance in the family or an undiagnosed problem of the child's.

According to G.B. Haarman, Psy.D., LMFT, there are ..."four significant factors in school refusal
  • emotional sensitivity
  • lack of parental awareness
  • concurrent antisocial behaviors
  • incomplete academic work"
Sometimes the reason behind the behavior is anxiety or depression, difficulty socializing, ADHD or other learning disorders.
Solutions sometimes involve a support plan and encouragement by the parents and teachers or other school personnel, together.  Sometimes working with a family therapist will help.  Sometimes a personal tutor will be useful and supportive.
Children need to be able to relax.  Children need to have friends.  Children need loving help with getting their homework done (not the discipline and punishment route many families take).

Occasionally a parent will not have, themselves, the knowledge to help their child with their schoolwork.  In this case, sometimes, just demonstrating a value on education and being a comforting, encouraging presence for the child while they do their work is effective.  Often, high school students who are in the academically talented program at their own school, will be available to hire for tutoring.  Younger children usually respond very well to this and will work hard for a teenager whom they will probably look up to.
Facilitate a good relationship between your child and his/her teacher---that can make a huge difference.

I wish you parents all the best as you move to help your child succeed.

Has this come up in your life or the life of your family?  What happened?

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