When Your Kid Doesn't Want to Go to School
An eye-opening perspective on school refusal — and four strategies for handling it.
A few weeks ago in one of my weekly threads, I asked subscribers what they have been struggling with. One parent lamented:
Last Friday my 7-year-old second grader flat out refused to go to school. I think it was a mix of anxiety, getting over a sinus infection, poor sleep the night before, and my husband leaving for work (he works out of town 3-4 days a week). Now I'm anxious every morning that it'll happen again. We've talked about it and he talked about it with his therapist, too, but if there's any suggestions or research on school refusal I'd love to hear about it!
This was one of several questions I got about school refusal, so I put it on my short list to address ASAP. For insight, I reached out to Christopher Kearney, who runs the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School Refusal and Anxiety Disorders Clinic, and Brian Chu, director of the Youth Anxiety and Depression Clinic at Rutgers University, who also specializes in school refusal.
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how relevant this topic would be for me personally. My kids have never flat-out refused to go to school, although they have certainly wanted to stay home when they’ve felt tired or sick, and understandably so. But when I finished my interview with Dr. Chu, my mind was blown and I vowed to change certain things about how I engage with my kids.