09-04-2020 06:07 PM - last edited on 11-03-2020 04:26 PM by Janine-RO
My daughter is very intelligent and does well with everything she sets her mind to. But this year she has started missing school.
I'm a single mum, I work full time so we moved just down the road from her school so she can walk to and from school. She did this brilliantly for years but this year she started being late, and eventually she stopped going at all. I'll get her up in the morning and by the time i leave for work she is showered, dressed, had breakfast and ready... despite that she never ends up going. I have to leave at 7.30am latest and don't get home until 5.30/6pm so I have no way to get her to school. She tells me confidently she will go to school that day, but then never does. I've asked her why, she has given every excuse from upset stomach because of her diet to anxiety. I think it's avoidance, but she won't see a doctor to rule out tummy issues and she claims she isn't avoiding school because of stress/ anxiety. She barely says a word to us any more and she has gone from a clean and tidy chatty girl to a bit of a slob. What can I do with a teenager that refuses to participate in life? I can't pick her up and carry her to appointments. Her father is lazy beyond words so his participation is out of the question, i have to work to support us and work has already given me freedoms that I can't keep asking for because I've already been formally reprimanded. I also suffered a work place injury last year that has put me in a precarious financial and employment situation. I'm passed breaking point myself because of the pressure work and insurance has put on me, and I've tried with her as much as I can but my contact with the school solved nothing, they offered no actual assistance but they call Every. Single. Day. I've stopped talking to them, I begged for help last time but she just said 'I feel for you'. I've spoken to my girl about how this will affect her future, asked her if anything was worrying her, asked what i can do to help her... she said there's nothing i can do. I've changed her diet, tried medication, supplements, online learning... i have no family that can help... the only solution I can see is finding a new job and moving somewhere really cheap, but I've just gone through a work over claim so that's going to make getting work in my sector really tough. I'm hoping someone will have a solution that i haven't thought of, maybe something that worked for you? I'm thinking about offering her a makeover to make her feel a bit more fresh and confident... hair cut and colour and new clothes... thinking it might prompt her to start going to show off and once she's actually going we can work on turning it into a habit?
09-04-2020 09:12 PM - edited 09-04-2020 09:12 PM
Welcome to ReachOut. I just wanted to acknowledge how hard you're trying with your daughter, and I can hear how understandably stressful this is for you. School refusal can be very hard to deal with, but there are some ways to try and manage it. I'd recommend getting professional advice. It sounds like money may be a bit tight at the moment. We have a free, one-on-one parent coaching service which you can find here.
Parentline may also be suitable - they offer free counselling to parents on any parenting issues they may be facing. The number for Parentline differs per state. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see which number to call if you're interested.
It does sound like avoidance (who knows why - could be for a range of reasons). Generally, with avoidance, you want to careful not to reward that avoidance because that can help maintain the behaviour. E.g., if a teenager doesn't go to school, and instead does fun things like watching TV, then the teenager is "rewarded" for staying home, and will more inclined to stay home tomorrow again. Whereas, if the school still send work home for the teenager, and the teenager has to complete the work while at home, then this may be less rewarding for them, and they may be less inclined to stay home the next day. So, this is where some professional help could come into good use. They can perhaps educate you on how to best encourage/motivate your daughter to go to school, make staying at home less rewarding, and also help teach her coping skills so that she feels more able to deal with whatever is keeping her away from school (assuming it's not a physical condition). If your daughter is not opening to seeking support at the moment, then you can still speak to a counselor/therapist/psychologist, and they can best guide you on how to cope with the situation. A psychologist might also be able to put together a plan to "ease" her back into school. Is there a school counselor available?
I'm sorry to hear that the father isn't the most helpful. That makes things really difficult as it sounds like you really that extra support right now. I am wondering if there's anyone else that could help drop off your daughter at school for a little while, such as a family member or close friend?
It might also be worth telling your daughter about Kids Help Line (see here) or if she wants peer support, she can join our youth forum here.
09-10-2020 10:30 PM
09-11-2020 12:13 PM
School refusal and withdrawal are definitely issues that we see a lot on the forum, so you are not alone
How is your teen responding to being treated like an adult? It can be so tricky to find that balance of allowing autonomy and giving responsibility. It sounds like you're setting up some clear boundaries, which can often be really helpful for having that transparency around your expectations.
It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate with your injury, tafe and work, as well as parenting - and living your life! What do you do to unwind?
09-17-2020 07:32 AM
09-17-2020 12:13 PM
Hey there @Kathy I hope things improve with your daughters energy levels now you're getting on top of the low iron. It's really great to hear that you don't want to put pressure on her with schooling, and you're right that there are a lot of options for following your dreams.
And good on you talking to the school about what is going on, were they helpful and receptive?
You said you're considering a psychologist, this could be a good idea to see if there is anything else going on for her, how is she feeling about the possibility of seeing a psychologist?
So lovely that you take her roller skating, its great to be able to do fun things together
I also just want to note that we've got a one-to-one coaching service for parents that you can find here if you or @fallingapart or @Marii wanted to check it out for extra support.