School refusal is when a child or teenager refuses to go to school on a regular basis or has trouble staying in school. These students may complain of physical symptoms such as a headache or nausea, which often disappear if they are allowed to stay home. Younger children may throw tantrums or have meltdowns on school day mornings. School refusal can be incredibly frustrating and difficult for parents, and it could have long-term effects on the child’s social, emotional and academic development.
Often, school refusal is a sign of a larger problem with a child or teenager. School refusal may be in response to stressful life events or a fear of something at school, such as bullying or academic anxiety. About 2% to 5% of children refuse to attend school because of anxiety or depression. Younger children may suffer from separation anxiety contributing to school refusal.
Mental health services can assist with school refusal in children and teenagers. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxation training and systemic desensitization can all help school-refusing students.
If your child is experiencing school refusal, mental health services at each of the three sites of the North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center can be incredibly helpful. These services include comprehensive evaluation, an individually tailored treatment plan that may include any combination of individual, family and group therapy, and, when indicated, medication management from a psychiatrist. All treatment plans require family consent and participation. For more information about our services, please call us at 516-626-1971.
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