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15yo daughter refuses to go to school

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15yo daughter refuses to go to school


15yo daughter refuses to go to school

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?


Super frequent scribe

Re: 15yo daughter refuses to go to school

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Dear @fallingapart 


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.

Casual scribe

Re: 15yo daughter refuses to go to school

I have the same problem but my 16yr old does attend zoom school 1/2 the time and avoids some subjects.
I’ve tried many methods and got angry a few times with confusion. Since she has devices 24/7 and required to do school through zoom land, my best strategy is to turn modem off if she doesn’t get minimal school requirements and assessments complete just so teacher can tick it off.
My kid refuses to go to councillor, hardly wants to go out with family. There have been serious issues with co-parenting. I’ve had a back injury that is permanently another issue, I study at Tafe and work part time.
The best thing I can do is limit helping her out and treat her like she is and adult renting her accommodation and services, tough love and over appreciating her accomplishments.
if she doesn’t participate in school and home then she misses out on things, I also won’t drive her around and take her To her rare Macca’s work shifts if she doesn’t compromise with home rules. 95% of her clothes are in dirty washing basket and I tell her constantly she needs to wash and she is running out of clean underwear, I won’t buy her more clothes till she respects the use of a washing machine.
That’s just my approach that isn’t that great either.

Re: 15yo daughter refuses to go to school

Hey @Marii 

School refusal and withdrawal are definitely issues that we see a lot on the forum, so you are not alone Heart

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?



Re: 15yo daughter refuses to go to school

My daughter is 14 and we found out she has virtually no iron in her body. It would be worth going to the doctor I think as a few people suggested that I should get her iron checked and I thought that wouldn’t be the case. We haven’t solved anything yet as we try to replenish her iron levels but it is a reason why she has lost all her energy. It’s not an easy time. I tend not to worry too much about school because these days you can always get entry courses into uni later in life to follow your dreams. I encourage to do well in school but don’t put pressure on as I feel teenagers have enough to deal with with their hormones. However I have dragged her in a few mornings lately as she is terrified of getting into trouble if she hasn’t completed work. I spoke to the teachers and told them to go easy on her because avoiding school was not the answer. Is it possible that she home schools or completes work at home? I find it hard to find time to spend quality time with my daughter because she doesn’t want to and prefers to hide in her room. She likes roller skating so I try to take her somewhere on a Sunday to get a little one on one time. It must be so hard for you, I guess you need to get her to open up and tell you why she really is not going. I know my daughter would happily sit on social media all day instead. I’m now considering a psychologist. I feel even other parents can help get through to your child more than you can because we are the people they sometimes blame for all their failures. ie yesterday my daughter said she mopes around all day not showered and no one cares. We do care but don’t want to shout or moan at her to get in the shower at 14 you should do that by yourself. I don’t know if I have helped but I hope things improve soon.

Re: 15yo daughter refuses to go to school

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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 Heart


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.

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