What are the symptoms of school refusal and how to deal with them?
School refusal is most common in kids who are 5 to 6 years old, when they are just starting school and in their first year of kindergarten. It is also common in school-age children who are about 10 to 11 years old, toward the end of the last years of elementary school.
In addition to having temper tantrums and crying, symptoms that children may have when they don't want to go to school may include vague complaints such as:
Αlthough these symptoms can also occur in children with other health problems, a good sign that they are being caused by school refusal is that mainly occur in the morning, when a child understands that he is not going to be able to stay at home. Furthermore, most of the symptoms disappear when children are not in school, including weekends and holidays.
The most effective way to face the school refusal is getting kids back in school. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to recognize that children are avoiding school when they seem sick, but a visit to your pediatrician is usually a good first step. This can help ensure that your child doesn't have a physical condition causing his symptoms. Once a diagnosis of school refusal is made, it can help to:
-make sure that your child goes to school each day, since the more he stays home, the harder it will be to get him to go back to school.
-understand that even though your child likely doesn't have a physical problem causing his symptoms, that doesn't mean that those symptoms aren't real.
-talk to your child and school staff to see if you can figure out what is triggering your child's school avoidance behaviors such as a bully, school performance problems or trouble making friends.
-keep a symptom diary and see your pediatrician on the days that your child feels like he really can't go to school.
-consider family therapy if there are any stressors at home, like a divorce, discipline problems, death in the family or a new sibling.