Aargh, my child refuses to go to school!

No worries, we have strategies on how you can encourage junior to get past the school gates…


For most kids, school is a fun and happy place — despite pesky assessments and homework. After all, this is where he’ll spend the best years of his life making lots of friends.

But for kids who hate or fear going to school, its very thought can trigger a physical and emotional response. Junior may start complaining that he has headaches, stomach ache, nausea and even vomit. These symptoms can get more intense right before they leave for school, which sparks a tantrum and causes them to act out. Other warning signs include:

* Not interacting with classmates or teachers.

* Preferring to stay home rather than go out or to school.

* Suffering temporary memory loss during exams.

* Threatening to harm himself.

Eugene Chong, Seeding Minds’ director and a counselling psychologist, who notes that between 1 and 5 per cent of school children fear school, says that this condition is most common in children between the ages of 10 and 18. School refusal describes a child who, because of emotional distress, refuses to go to school on a regular basis or has problems staying in school.

“Typically, issues in family, bullying, friendships, or traumas are the usual causes for school refusal.”

The term school refusal may sound harmless but it has complicated underlying causes. The Institute of Mental Health’s (IMH) Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry notes that your child’s rejection of school could be due to disorders like anxiety, depression and addiction. So, get a psychiatrist to assess junior to rule out these health issues.

Other reasons range from avoiding exams and teamwork to an irrational but intense fear of things like the school bell or germs. Chong adds, “Typically, issues in family, bullying, friendships, or traumas are the usual causes for school refusal.”