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School refusal - to push or not to push?

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School refusal - to push or not to push?

Casual scribe

School refusal - to push or not to push?

Hi there,

I have read every article I can find about school refusal. Most of them have some lovely advice, but it really doesn't make a difference whether you have a consistent morning routine in the face of panic attacks at the thought of putting the uniform on. We are so compassionate and listen to her distress, but when it comes down to it, she only has the rational thinking ability of a 13 year old on her best days, and less when she is constantly in fight or flight. 

As her parents, we can see the damage that is being caused by her school refusal. When she had an eating disorder, we took control and made all her food choices because she wasn't capable of making them herself. So now with school, should we be doing the same thing? If we ask her to identify worries, she comes up blank. If we ask her what she wants her life to be like, she comes up blank. We can see the things she can't.

My question is - will it make her social anxiety worse if we force her to attend? I know she will fight it, and she will have a panic attack getting out of the car. But last term, she started slow and built up to a full day, made friends and was much happier. Now she's back to square one. 

PS She also says she doesn't do psychology. She is not interested in (or capable of?) introspection.

Thanks for your advice!


Frequent scribe

Re: School refusal - to push or not to push?

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Hi @heythere thank you for sharing with us, sounds like a very tricky situation, and that the strategies usually given for school refusal don't seem to work for you. Perhaps you could remind her of the fact that she was capable of building up to it last term, and so she can do so again. 

What other ways does she have to manage her anxiety? I know you say she doesn't do psychology, which is tricky, but you could also encourage her to try something like Kids Helpline, which may be a lot more approachable. It sounds like she may need help in finding ways to regulate her emotional state and return to baseline rather than being stuck in fight or flight. 

For yourself as well, it could be helpful to get some extra support. Navigating situations like this can be very taxing, and we all need to be able to vent and feel heard from time to time.