School Attendance and Refusal

School refusal can present in a variety of ways. For some children, behaviors like arriving at school on time can be a struggle, or feeling the need to leave before the school day ends, or not attending school at all. Physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and stomach aches can make it hard to get off to school in the morning or make it feel necessary to leave early.

School avoidance allows a child to escape aspects of the school day which cause anxiety. While this provides immediate short-term relief, if a child continues to miss school, returning can feel harder and harder as they fall behind with their learning and begin to feel socially isolated from their friends and teachers. Very quickly, a cycle of school avoidance can set in which removes the opportunity of the child learning strategies to deal and cope with school related anxiety and challenges.

Children rarely grow out of school refusal, and the longer they stay home, the harder it is to get back to a normal routine. Staying home actually hinders growth (through strengthening avoidance), and prevents new learning of better anxiety coping skills. Work closely with your child’s school so they can support you in helping your child re-engage in school.

Resources to help:

Supported by

Canterbury District Health Board
Canterbury Clinical Network
Ministry Of Education
Ministry Of Health