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School Refusal

School Refusal

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School Refusal

HI we are really struggling with our 14 year old son with school refusal (its now been over 2 weeks solid) in addition to the 1 or 2 days per week it has been all term. We are at a loss as to what to do. He simply refuses to get out of be to go and becomes very angry the more we push. Any attempts to punish him lead to threats and actual actions of making the situation worse, and is in fact the case. We tried to get him to see a counsellor all to no avail  as he refused to leave the house for that. His whole attitude is off and we know he is a great kid he is not the same. We are well and truly stuck here Smiley Sad

Community Manager

Re: School Refusal

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Hi @Gebadia 

Thank you for posting your experiences here, school refusal is an issue that we chat about a lot on the forums, you are not alone in having this issue. It can be so upsetting watching our loved ones go through this. 

We've got a content piece here that has some great tips in it about school refusal, it also has a video in it that is quite helpful. We've also got a thread here where other parents have spoken about school refusal which might be good to look at for some other perspectives.  

I'm wondering if your son isn't interested to see a counsellor in person if he might be keen to get some online support from eheadspace or Kids Helpline? 

I'm also curious if the school has been able to offer any support? Sometimes schools are able to give some guidance around school refusal, have you found this to be the case?

Let us know how you're getting on. 

Parent Community Champion

Re: School Refusal

Hi Gebadia,

I wanted to encourage you first up and "pat you on the back" for coming here and seeking some ideas and support. I have a 14 year old daughter who is in Year 9 and a 16 year old son in Year 11 which has just become Year 12. Due to covid, I haven't been in touch with my friends as much to find out what's going on overall this year and I don't know whether teens are more unsettled due to covid this year, but it seems that way to me. I know quite a few people who have difficulties getting their kids to school and our son has more troubles down this path than our daughter. My first port of call after reading the Reach Out resources, would be to speak to the school. Different schools have different roles who are your first point of contact for example the Year Deputy or Head Teacher. They usually send a letter home. Or might've called you?? 

It sounds like your chances of getting your son outside the home for help are minimal. So, I guess my first question is whether he stays in bed all day and doesn't seem to enjoy anything? Or, is it just school he's avoiding? Does he show signs of serious depression? Another problem many families are facing, is excessive gaming. Does he just want to stay home and game? Does he feel uncomfortable at school and can something be done to ease this? Encouraging him to take really, really small steps initially and think about the things he enjoys doing and working from there to try to I guess effect a change in the weather.  Even if you only get him to change course by a few degrees, as he keeps walking, the degree of change keeps increasing. Also, these small changes add up and then it seems they can build up on themselves and things really improve. 

I have a couple of severe chronic health/disability conditions and I've had to start over quite a few times not knowing what the future had in store and that included being unable to walk and dress myself and being in a wheelchair. There was some pretty deep despair there but each time I made progress, I was encouraged. My kids were very young at the time and they provided me with the incentive to push on and tackle those vertical cliff faces. Having a reason to live, to get up in the morning, is very important for everyone but can be difficult to find when you need it most. 

It is hard too watching someone going through this and feeling overwhelmed, powerless and worried out of your mind. Somehow, you need to be clever and not too obvious. You don't want him to feel that you think something is wrong with him or that he's "a case". My temptation would be to go over the top. Buy them something special etc. However, my thinking is you need to be reassuring and encouraging but go and seek advice like you've done here and skill yourself up and see how that goes. 

Also, I wanted to ask whether his school refusal has been worse after being in lock down?Our school principal has mentioned that some students prefer being at home. Many adults are preferring to work from home instead of going into the office everyday. However, there's a big difference between working or studying at home versus avoidance. 

Meanwhile, try to find some time to relax and recharge for yourself. 

Best wishes,

Birdwings 

Active scribe

Re: School Refusal

Hiya, I was the queen of school refusal as a teenager. I had no idea why I couldn’t face school except that the only classes I liked were double periods. Single periods always felt like I’d only just gotten into the swing of the class and it was over. I was always forgetting where I had to be and never had the right books with me. In adulthood I was diagnosed with ADHD - inattentive type. Not suggesting this is what is the deal with your son, rather I wanted to suggest a website called lives in the balance dot com - learning how and why to do ‘plan B’ has been a game changer for me. Knowing about ‘plan C’ is a huge weight off my mind. Dr Greene also has a website called thekidswelose.com which has a preview of a film by the same name. It might be worth watching to see if it rings any bells for you and/or if it is something you could watch with your son to kind of signal that you understand school is really challenging for him and you want to help. There is lots of info on both websites and having been a mum who did not know I had ADHD trying to bring up a child I didn’t know had ADHD this is the support I wish I had at the time. It seemed like everyone was always telling me about being strong and consistent and ‘dealing with the behaviour’ but I now understand what was going on very differently. When things get as extreme as what you describe with your son there is a very good chance this isn’t behavioural but neurological - if that is the case then the only way to defuse the situation is to back away and give him space to calm down and the best time to discuss these things is when all is calm. It’s also surprising what kids will tell us if we talk about our own feeling eg I’ve had a crappy day, I missed the bus.. how was your day” rather than always focussing on them which can make them aware that helping each other is a two way street rather than always feeling like they are a problem everyone else is trying to fix. Best wishes.

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Re: School Refusal

Thanks Birdwings for the advice. Still very up and down. Got him to school for a full day earlier this week and the last two lessons yesterday. Today is another battle and will not get out of bed so looks like no attendance again today. School counsellor had a chat with him on the day he attended and offered some support to him and I caught up with the school counsellor that morning highlighting the discussion. Attempted to get him to a separate counselling session to no avail as that was refused as well. I'm stuck as its all day trying to get him out of bed which is impacting everything else Smiley Sad I'm trying to avoid the punishment and privilege removal as I suspect that will make things much worse. Just don't know how long this can persevere as its now 3 weeks with 1.25 days in attendance. Not withstanding I'm almost at breaking point.

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Re: School Refusal

I actually should clarify though its not so much as school refusal as him sitting in the lounge and refusing to go out the door. Its actually waking him up and getting him out of bed. Once he is up he goes. ie just right no as of 12:30 he is finally getting ready for school. Ill take the small wins and if its 3 lessons he gets to its better than none

Community Manager

Re: School Refusal

Thanks so much @Birdwings  and @Beebaloolah  for your thoughtful and insightful comments.  @Gebadia I'm wondering if your son would be open to having a check up with your GP at all, or if he's had one recently? I know it may be tricky if he's not keen, but I'm wondering if it could be worth ruling out any physical causes of his low energy in the mornings?  Obviously we can't give medical advice here, but it can often be good to have a chat with a GP as a starting point. 

 

I really love what you say about celebrating the small wins @Gebadia - I think that's such a good approach,  progress can often be slow but it's so important to celebrate those wins. How are you coping with everything? 

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Re: School Refusal

Hi @Janine-RO Janie-RO thanks. Yep thats all been done recently, clean bill of health from that perspective. Yeah still celebrating the small wins. Monday right off but not too disappointed as he was up all night with a bit of a reaction to some face cream. Today was a full day at school, and on time, so Ill take that! Here's to what tomorrow brings Smiley Wink

Community Manager

Re: School Refusal

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Hi @Gebadia , 

 

That's great news that he managed a full day of school  and being on time as well - definitely a win to celebrate!  It can be a really tricky situation to sit in as a parent when your young person doesn't want to seek counselling- the online options that @Hannah-RO  mentioned are meant to be great, and if you think he'd be interested, we do also have an anonymous online forum for young people here.  

 

I hope your week continues to go well!