When your child begins to attend preschool, it marks the start of an intriguing discovery journey for both you and your preschooler. You will need to prepare for smooth and challenging times. One such drawback in your kid’s schooling journey is school refusal. One day you just wake up in the morning, and your preschooler refuses to go to school.
School refusal is a turn of phrase used to describe the signs of anxiety in a school-aged child. These signs cause the child to experience difficulty remaining in class for a full day. Your preschooler’s refusal to go to school is not subject to the control of another. School refusal is a child-motivated rejection to stay in class for the required set time. School refusal is also known as school avoidance.
What Leads to School Refusal?
There is no single known cause for school refusal behavior in preschoolers. You may need to observe your child and identify whether the underlying cause is a physical or an emotional issue.
A Child’s First Day at School
School refusal may occur when your preschooler is going to school for the first time. The possible cause of this type of school refusal is your child’s uneasiness about being separated from you. Some children develop separation anxiety on the first day of school, but this state of anxiety and restlessness is overcome a few days after your preschooler starts school.
Your preschooler may feel troubled and uncomfortable about being away from you for longer than usual. An overly anxious preschooler is likely to refuse to go to school. This type of distress commonly occurs in the morning before your child goes to school. Once your child decides not to go to school or is withdrawn from school, you will notice that this mood is instantly stabilized.
Your preschooler may be afraid of an incident that happened at school and react to it by refusing to go to school. Sometimes children fear the unknown, and when you change your kid’s school, it may lead to school refusal. Kids who have previously enjoyed going to school may experience this type of phobia.
Struggling to Go to School
When your child has persistent difficulties attending school, you may need to seek help from a specialist to address your child’s school refusal issue.
Some children may show severe emotional upset at the expectation of going to school. Your preschooler may become moody or show other physical symptoms when moved out of an emotional comfort zone; this may indicate that your child is experiencing a school refusal issue.
Today, school refusal is considered to include problematic absenteeism and absence without permission, regardless of the primary cause. A situation where your preschooler repeatedly stays out of school is an indication of a school refusal issue.
Ways to Respond to Your Preschooler’s School Refusal:
Talk to Your Child
Remember that your preschooler is going through emotional distress. Be kind when talking to your child, listen when your preschooler is talking to you, and offer a moment of physical affection. Remain calm and show your child that you care. Children positively respond to love and attention from parents.
Gathering information about your child may help you design appropriate solutions and plans to help your child stay in school. Such information may include assessing how many days your preschooler has been absent from school. It is also beneficial to obtain other information about your child from family members, friends, and teachers. To evaluate your child’s emotional distress level, you may need to seek help from a specialist.
You can have your preschooler go through Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to encourage relaxation, address anxiety issues, and support a gradual exposure to fear. This therapy could help your child develop skills to cope with distress or discomfort.
Ask for Help
Take quick action to minimize the outcomes of school refusal behavior in your preschooler. Mobilize a support network and seek help from a specialist.
School refusal can occur at any time in a child’s schooling period but is said to be prevalent during significant changes in your child’s life, such as the first day at school. It may also occur during changing from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school. Some children will exhibit school refusal behavior after summer or holidays.
School refusal may develop more serious educational or social problems in your child if not addressed. Children who experience school refusal tend to have average or above-average intelligence and need to be encouraged to stay in school.