Back-to-School season is upon us – if you couldn’t tell by the uniforms and school supplies strewn all over every department store. And, as the yearly routine goes, there are a few tykes somewhere in the world begging their parents not to leave them at school.
There may be an actual reason behind your child’s unwillingness to go to school besides what some parents perceive as cute stubbornness. Ever heard of school refusal? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, your child’s refusal to go to school or stay in school may be the first sign of a mental disorder.
This anxiety-based illness usually affects two to five percent of all school-age children. Experts say the refusal occurs during those transitional –sometimes-scary – school years, such as entering kindergarten, middle and high school.
The main symptom is complaining of physical illness shortly before its time to head to school:
Your child was feeling fine last night. But all of a sudden, around six a.m., as you all prepare for the school day, your little one is complaining of a headache or stomachache. Then, if you let your child stay home, the symptoms disappear without any treatment only to return the next morning.
Here are four ways to help your child:
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Talk to your child about their feelings and fears.
Sometimes, especially at early ages, children may have developed a fear that something will happen to their parents while they are at school. It’s best to have an open discussion with your little one to find out what’s bothering them and how that may be triggering their fear of going to school.
It’s important to create an environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their concerns and worries. You can start by initiating open conversations about school, addressing their fears and acknowledging their feelings. Let them know that their emotions are valid and that you’re there to support them.