Is every morning becoming a struggle? If your teenager is refusing to go to school, it’s probably a major source of stress, worry, and frustration for you as a parent.
Sometimes, school is just an unattractive option, especially when it’s in competition with a day at the beach, or relaxing at home.
However, other times the adamant refusal of your teen may be pointing to other, deeper issues.
Some reasons why your teen may refuse to go to school:
- Social anxiety. If they’re finding themselves overwhelmed by anxiety in around their peers and teachers, school can feel like an exhausting and painful endeavor.
- Stress. High school can present quite a slew of stress triggers. Your teen may be feeling intense stress from academic pressure, lack of friends, or peer pressure.
- Bullying. Most teens that experience bullying, find it difficult to articulate what they’re going through. Telling an adult may feel like “tattle- tailing,” or conceding defeat. It’s worth knowing that an estimated 20% of teens reported being bullied, and 70% of students report having been witness to bullying.
- Depression. It can be painful to think about your teen experiencing depression, but an estimated 20% do. If your teen is distant, persistently sad, and reluctant to socialize, it’s possible that they’re going through a very deep struggle. Click here to read more about what teenager depression may look like.
What you can do to help
It’s normal to feel angry and confused when your child’s school attendance becomes a constant battle. It’s important to remember that this refusal may hint at a deeper issue.
Here are some ways you can help:
- Communicate. One of the bedrocks of a good relationship is communicating. Remember that your teen is hurting. Make sure to verbalize love, understanding, and your willingness to work with them.
- Be supportive. It’s incredibly meaningful to your child to know that you’ve got their back. Just letting them know that you want to be there for them can alleviate a lot of the pressure.
- Set boundaries. Despite being supportive, it’s important to set boundaries when it comes to attendance and school performance. This can be a complicated balance, and you may turn to a teacher, a therapist, or your own teen to learn more about what boundaries are reasonable.
- Give them options. When we feel free, we find it easier to be flexible and less afraid. Try to keep an open mind and work with the problem. Consider: Is it possible (and helpful) to look for a new school? Would my son/ daughter benefit from professional guidance? Would a job on the weekends or an extracurricular program help boost his/ her self-confidence?