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Dr. Patrick McGrath’s Blog

Child Struggling with Going to School?

    If you have a child that is struggling with going to school there are many things that you can do to assist them in getting back to school. Sometimes it may be as easy as having a meeting with a child and a feared teacher to work everything out. Or, maybe your child is refusing to even leave home all together.

    There are numerous books about School Anxiety on the market, but you may find some of these tips to be helpful right away.

    1. Set up home to be like school. If your child will not go to school, make home like school – no TV, no internet other than for homework, and your child is to be seated at the dining room table from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM. They are to be dressed in school appropriate clothes and lunch is simple – not some slaved over favorite comfort food. The only thing that is allowed to be worked on is school work – nothing else is permitted.
    2. If your child misses school, then they also miss any afterschool activities that would be going on that day as well – too “sick” to be at school also means too sick to go to practice or to play with friends.
    3. If your child has a magical recovery every Friday, then tell them that if they want to go out over the weekend, they must attend at least three days of school this week, four next week , and all days the following week, unless there is a DR.’s note excusing them. Otherwise, they will not get to do any out of the house fun activities over the weekend.
    4. Consider a gradual return to school – one period Monday, two on Tuesday, three on Wednesday… This will allow them to not feel as overwhelmed when they get back into the hang of being at school.
    5. Practice how they will answer people when asked why they were not in school. Role play this so that your kids will be comfortable diverting from a long discussion about their anxiety.
    6. Be sure that there is time given for make-up work. If all work must be done just as your child returns to school, it may be hard to convince them to return.
    7. If motivation is a problem, remove all fun things from the home such as video games and music players and so on. Put plug locks on the TV’s so that they cannot be powered up, and change the password to your wireless internet so that your child cannot log in without your permission. If a child has access to these, they may be much more fun than school as they allow for distraction from what might be bothering them. So, remove these items from the home (lock them up in a desk at your work if you can) and tell your child that they can entertain themselves with books from school.

    If you need more assistance than these tips can provide, then it may be time to seek some professional help. Know that there is assistance available, and we at ACI are happy to help provide that assistance to your family.