What is School Refusal and School Phobia?

School refusal is a disorder that usually starts between the ages of 6-10, often goes together with anxiety disorders, and is characterized by not wanting to go to school. It can also be seen during adolescence. School refusal is seen in 75% of children with separation anxiety disorder.

School refusal reasons

The reasons for school refusal can be examined as acute (sudden onset) and chronic (continuous). School refusal, especially at school starting age, has been associated with separation anxiety disorder. Chronic and more challenging progressive school refusal may be due to reasons such as depression, panic attacks, social anxiety disorder, internet-online game addiction and require more serious treatment.

If your child has symptoms such as abdominal pain, headache, and nausea, especially when he goes to school in the morning, these are signs of an anxiety disorder.

If your child has symptoms such as introversion, decreased communication with friends, low energy, and not enjoying life recently, your child may have depressive symptoms.

If your child constantly spends time in front of the screen, becomes more irritable and aggressive when he is away from the screen or is taken away, your child may have a technology addiction.

If your child has just started a new school, moved, or has recently lost a loved one, he or she may be having trouble adjusting.

Often school refusal occurs as a result of a psychiatric disorder.

How to treat school refusal and school phobia?

It is highly likely that children who refuse school face negative consequences such as reduced school performance due to absenteeism, loss of school-related developmental skills, weakness in social skills and social withdrawal, weakness in coping with stressful situations, and worsening mental health. Therefore, treatment should begin before the condition becomes chronic.

First of all, the situation that caused the school refusal must be found. Lack of energy and reluctance in depression can cause school refusal. In social anxiety disorder, children think that they are constantly judged and criticized by others and cannot communicate with their friends. This can lead to school refusal. Internet and game addiction, which has increased recently, causes the child to spend time in front of the computer and phone all the time, and therefore does not want to go to school. Children who experience peer bullying may refuse to go to school. Separation anxiety disorder can cause school refusal in younger children, especially when starting school.

For treatment, the child or adolescent should be evaluated by a specialist and the root of the problem should be found. In school refusal, treatment is carried out as a team. Here, parents, school, teachers, experts should try to understand and solve the problem by collaborating.

What should I do in school refusal?

As a parent, if your child refuses to go to school and is constantly absent, you should take this situation seriously and seek help for treatment. In long-lasting situations, we may encounter a deterioration in children’s lessons, a decrease in their social skills, and a gradual reinforcement of the behavior of not going to school.

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