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Common Reasons Children Avoid School by Dr. Kim Champion

All children may resist going to school at one time or another, but for some children and their parents, school becomes a stressful daily battle that leads to frustration and conflict. Parents question what could be causing such distress and refusal in their child and what they can do to help their child. The following is a list of common reasons that a child may be refusing or resisting school. Understanding underlying causes can help parents to work with their child to rebuild a comfort level with attending school.

Fatigue –

Children, like adults in our fast-­‐paced, high-­‐entertainment society, often do not get enough sleep at night. Medical professionals recommend that children ages 7– 12 years sleep 10 -­‐ 11 hours per night. When children are tired, they have a harder time coping with stress, managing emotions, and problem-­‐solving. Children with mental health disorders are affected by lack of sleep even more, since it regularly requires extra energy for them to manage symptoms. For example, a hyperactive, impulsive child may be able to manage these symptoms most days in school, but if he is particularly tired one day, the same symptoms may become far less manageable.

Hyperactivity/Impulsivity/Distractibility –

Even though children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder frequently desire to behave appropriately and please others, their impulsivity and fidgetiness can become disruptive to the classroom and annoying to classmates. As a result, they often expend a great deal of energy working to minimize their symptoms during the school day. Over time, children with ADHD can become discouraged and overwhelmed with trying to manage symptoms and

cope with the regular stresses of their school day which may lead to school avoidance.

Anxiety or Depression –

Children experience anxiety and depression for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a child fears for her parent’s safety and may resist separation. Other times, a child may fear being rejected by others, bullied, or embarrassed in public. Sometimes, a child feels he will disappoint others

if he makes mistakes or gets low grades which may cause anxiety and school avoidance. When children are depressed they may avoid being around other people; they may give up hobbies or sports; they often feel unmotivated; and they frequently do not have a desire to

work on anything, including schoolwork, which can make attending school distressing.

Discussing concerns with your child may help you to understand his or her feelings and struggles and will likely lead to ideas for providing help such as earlier bedtime or strategies for concentration. However, if your child’s symptoms are severe, if you have seen a change in your child’s personality, or if symptomsare not improving, enlisting the help of a mental health professional is suggested.

Take the next step. Call for an appointment.