School phobia or school refusal is an anxiety condition usually found in younger children where they persistently refuse to go to school. This often shows itself by vague sick symptoms such as tummy aches on school mornings, especially after a weekend or holiday. If you let your child stay home, you may find that immediately after the time for getting to school has gone, your child feels better.
Discovering the Reason
School phobia is usually considered to be irrational and caused by an unspecified anxiety. However, if your child has been happily going to school until now, and suddenly becomes very reluctant, he or she may be experiencing difficulties at school, which is stopping he/she from wanting to go.
It is important to talk to your child to try to discover the reason and to let them know that you take their concerns and anxieties seriously.
There may be personnel changes in the school, which they find hard to cope with, or far more seriously, your child may be experiencing bullying or may fear ridicule from a teacher. He/she may be having some learning problems and are afraid of your disapproval if he/she doesn't bring home perfect test results.
If on the other hand you have had changes at home, such as illness, a new baby, or even bereavement, your child may be reluctant to leave home for fear of something else happening while they are away at school.
What To Do
If you find that your child is having problems in school, it is important to discuss this with the school to see how they can address the issue. Sometimes schools try to minimize interfering with behavior such as teasing and bullying, seeing it as part the rough and tumble of school life, but this type of behavior needs to taken seriously as it can be very intimidating for children. If your child is having learning difficulties, some extra classroom support maybe necessary. If on the other hand the problem is a home one, where for example your child is afraid to leave home to go to school in case something happens to you, you need to reassure your child.
Getting Your Child To Go To School
When your child first starts to express anxiety about going to school, it is important to get your child to school, so that an initial reluctance doesn't develop into a serious problem. They need to understand that tummy aches, and other aches and pains are a sign that they are anxious, and that you will help them to deal with their stress and anxiety, real or imagined, but that they still have to go to school.
If you take your child to school and pick up them up, that in itself can reassure your child. It also gives you a chance to speak to the teacher and see for yourself what is going on in the playground.
If the problem is already chronic, you may need to discuss the problem with the school psychologist in order to find an appropriate solution.