'School refusal' is not necessarily an act of indiscipline, but possibly an indicator of a much bigger problem. Read on to find out how to motivate your child to go to school.
By Shashwathi Sandeep
It is only a few weeks into the new school year. But, every morning when it is time to get ready for school, six-year-old Ramya complains of a tummy ache. Alarmed, her mother takes Ramya to a doctor for a check-up but an evaluation reveals nothing of significance. It is then the doctor suggests that Ramya may be displaying signs of ‘school refusal’.
The problem of children refusing to go to school is more common than it appears to be. While some children show a reluctance to go, others refuse outright, throwing tantrums, and are unwilling to get dressed. Some children can even fake an illness.
School refusal exposes both the child and the parents to a significant amount of stress. But getting to the root of the problem and taking steps to address the issues involved can help resolve the situation. Here are some common reasons why children refuse to go to school and how you can deal with them:
1. Separation anxiety: Most children are happy to go to school. But for children suffering from separation anxiety, the thought of going to school can give rise to irrational worries and fears, such as something bad happening to them or their parents. This makes a child extremely reluctant to go to school.
Avoid bribing your child or reprimanding him for bad behaviour. If your child is more comfortable separating from one parent, then that parent should drop the child off to school.
2. Academic issues: Issues like difficulty in understanding concepts, falling grades and learning difficulties can cause a child to feel anxious and worried. This can make a child reluctant to attend school.
3. Unfriendly school environment: Some children find the school environment miserable and distressing. There can be several reasons behind this, such as bullying or teasing or, problems with teachers and other staff. All these can make a child feel threatened and unwilling to go to school.
4. When the going gets tough: In school, children are challenged to move outside their comfort zone, by doing things like eating on their own, tying their shoelaces, packing their schoolbag, or finding their way to and from the restroom. This can make a child feel anxious and uncomfortable.
5. Repetitive and boring: Children who are exceptionally creative or gifted are more curious than their peers. They tend to ask a lot of questions, not only from the lessons being taught but also, from outside the curriculum. It’s possible that a gifted child may find what is being taught at school unchallenging and boring.
6. Emotional and psychological issues: Refusing to go to school is the symptom, not the disorder. Some children who avoid going to school may be suffering from mental health issues like anxiety or panic attacks, depression, and ADHD.
As parents, it is our responsibility to see that our children receive a good education. If your child refuses to go to school, the best way to help is to find out why and address the issue. Do seek the help of your child's teachers and other experts, if needed.
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