My daughter had school refusal from aged 12. Very similar to your sister. It was a massive effort to get ther out of bed. It was then a massive effort to get her to the car and then she would refuse to get out of the car. My daughter was frightened off high school by a speach by a teacher telling her how much work high school would be and how important it was. This was designed to shock kids into taking it seriously but it tipped my daughter's anxiety over the edge. Your sister sees your home as a safe space - as she should. And she probably sees school as a terrifying place. My daughters anxiety would build up and up during the morning and she would be a wreck by the time she was outside school. She would sometimes sit in the car for almost an hour whilst various people tried to coax her out of the car. Eventually there was no option but to give up and her relief was enormous. I think this made school worse as her heightened anxiety was completely associated with going to school. We ended up giving her 1 minute to get out of the car and then we would take her home with no fault. She wanted to go to school but simply couldnt do it. When we did this she would always say she would try harder tomorrow. When she had an hour of people talking at her she couldnt even think about school with out being sick. My advice is take it easy. Encourage her to want to go but dont push too hard. And if she does not go dont use any language that implies it is her fault.
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My daughter suffered from anxiety from about 12 which mainly manifest as school refusal. This happened for about 2 years and it was hell. She is 15 now. She still suffers from anxiety but she largely has it under control and almost never misses school. Things that worked for us; 1) Medication - This reduced her axiety at night so she could at least sleep 2) Outside activity - She went to dance classes that, at the time, were her life. It always (and still does) make her happy. I think she identified school as the source of her problems so having something else in her life was great. 3) Accepting that failure is OK. If she didnt go to school then so what. We were originally told that the most important thing was getting her to school. Our insistance seamed to make it worse. When we stopped making a big deal it took a lot of pressure of her - and us. This applies to parents as well. Try not to blame yourself. 4) Not making my daughter feel like she was broken. She was taken to so many medical people she felt she was the problem. She saw her parents in anguish over her problems and blamed herself. We started to consider her anxiety as something that happened to her and not part of her. We changed our language to say say we were treating her anxiety, not herself. She saw the worst of all situations but we would say her anxiety was making her do this - not herself. 5) We normalised anxiety. We pointed out that it is a common thing. We talked about our own anxiety (I have always had similar feelings to my daughter but hey never took hold like they did to her), but not in a way to diminish how her anxiety affect her. We found examples of succesful women who live with anxiety. 6) Even though we have always loved her, she doubted this. We made a conscious decision to regurlarly tell her we loved her. I hope you find something that works for you. It is hard on your daughter and it is hard on you. Look after yourself.
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My daughter was terrified to start high school 3.5 years ago and she suffered from school refusal. 2 years ago it went bad with threats of self harm and multiple visits to emergency room. We saw 6 different counsellors and psychiatrists. None of this helped. Possibly it made it worse. My daughter refused to engage with them and she felt that there was something wrong with her and it was her fault. I generally feel let down by the health system. Our home life was terrible. My wife felt judged by everyone, including the health professionals and school. She also felt to blame - as did I. We were told the most important thing was to get her to school. The effort to do this (usually unsucessfully) was tearing us apart. Towards the end of term 1 this year we "Gave Up". We decided that getting her to school was not the most important thing. We started to care less when she didnt go to school. We put less pressure on her going to school. Then she started going to school. She went the last 9 days in a row in term 1. Then corona put her at home for 2 months. This showed us that remote schooling (which we were considering) would have been the wrong thing for us. The first week back after corona she missed 2 days - and since then no missed days. It appears we are over the worst of it. The things that appear to have worked for us are; 1 Not to blame our daughter for how she feels (we never really did - but she felt that we did) 2 Try not to blame ourselves (this is very hard) 3 Reinforce that she is loved and no matter what will be loved. 4 Realise that school is not the most important thing and that if she fails school she can get back to it at a later date - even as an adult 5 Anti-anxiety drugs helped for us - Not to get her to school in the morning, but to prevent her anxiety the night before 6 Changing schools where they appreciated the problem more For any parent out there with similar problems, I feel for you and hope you find something that works for you.
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Thankyou for responding to me. I only posted as a way to vent my frustrations. My wife and I decided to give up on the recommended line of telling our daughter that it was 'compulsory' to go to school. We can not physically force her to go to school. Our stance now is that it is her responsibility to go to school. If she is not ready by a certain time then we will not take her to school. I told her that she will always have a place to stay and we will give her love and food but we cant keep going on as we are. I pointed out that it is the law that she attends school until the end of the year. I told her that if she cant go to school she should officially stop going at the end of the year. My wife who mostly takes her to school told her outright that she wont take her late to school. She gets to go in the morning on time and after that she wont get taken. We decided this as the emotional stress was just too much. In a way we gave up on getting her to school. Out thinking is that we just try to be as happy as possible. Regardless of what we were doing she wasnt going to school. At least this way we are not upset. Since this she has gone to school 8 days straight. She has attended all classes and not gone to hide in her safe space the school has set up for her. I dont know if our change in how we deal with her has helped her get to school. I dont really care. She is showing much less anxiety (although it is still there). She is happier - we are all happier. I hope things get better for your daughter and family. If I had any useful advice I would give it.
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When my daughter started year 7 she started to outwardly show fear of going to school. We took her to see a phsycologist but it was of little help. In grade 8 combined with a falling out with friends she refused to go to school. She went to see another counsellor around this time. She threatened self harm and twice ended up at the emergency department. Her counsellor all but admitted there was nothing she could do for her so we stopped taking her there. We decided to try moving schools and she went to the new school most days but only with alot of effort from my wife and I and the school counseller. We had her seeing another private counsellor and she was prescribed fluoxetine. She was still struggling to go to school but her home life was better. She hated going to see the counsellor and the counsellor, I felt, gave up on her as she was not engaging in the sessions.
This year she has barely been to school and when she does ,she does not go to normal class. She takes her anger out on her younger sister verbally and sometimes physically. I am starting to see her regress back to the worst days 2 years ago.
All professional advice has been to get her to school but this is taking its toll on my entire family.She is in grade 10 now and feel that she should consider leaving school. Alternatively maybe distance education may be an option but I expect she will still see this as school and refuse to attend.
During weekend and holidays she does not experience anxiety - at least not at comparable levels.
I generally feel let down my the medical professionals we have seen. My daughter despises going to see counsellors and I feel we only ever talk about the problem and never deal with any solutions.
I am interested to hear what people think about options of leaving school or alternatively try distance education. My daughter does quite well at school acedemically - especially considering how much class time she misses. I have talked to her about choosing not to go back to school next year but she is also afraid of not going to school.
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