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Question of the week

What can you do if your child refuses to go to school?
19 Feb 2007

School refusal is when a child does not want to go to school or actually refuses to go to school. It can be very distressing for both the parents and the child. Often parents are blamed, which makes them feel worse. If your child does not want to go to school, there are some things you can do that might help.

Children who don't want to go to school usually:

  • want to stay at home with parents
  • get upset about going to school and may report stomach aches, headaches, or not feeling well, without a physical cause
  • don't have any serious behaviour problems
  • don't try to hide their wish not to go to school from their parents
  • are more likely to be the youngest member of a family.

School refusal can happen at any age, but is likely to be at times of change such as starting school or starting high school.

In the long term, these children usually do well – they get back to school and don't experience any negative effects. The short-term problems are about missing school work and not having the chance to enjoy playing with friends. These can happen if it goes on for a long time, as it sometimes does.

For more information, have a look at the topic School refusal and truancy. There are also many topics about school on the Kid's Health part of this site, in the section Your school.