Here’s a common scenario: It’s time for your child to go to school, and you notice they’re still not showered, dressed, or fed by 7:30 AM as you rush to get ready for work. School starts at 8:00 o’clock, and they’ve been late to class several times already in the past month.
He or she sprawls out in bed, saying that they don’t want to go to school because they A) didn’t do an assignment, B) feel ill, C) school’s too easy for them, or D) about a million-plus-one other excuses. But are these really excuses, or signs of something else?
Parents often shirk off this resistance as pure laziness and roll their child out of bed and to the bus stop in the nick of time. However, school refusal, as this phenomenon is aptly deemed, can actually be a result of anxiety.
4 Common Causes of Anxiety
Did you know that 2-5% of school-age students are affected by anxiety-based school refusal? That doesn't necessarily mean that your child is in this 2-5%, however. Before you rush your child to the nearest counselor, there are a few things that need to be considered:
- Starting school:
- Performance Anxiety:
Here are some common physical symptoms of anxiety:
Additionally, there are emotional symptoms of anxiety, including:
The key is noticing a pattern; everyone has his or her bad days. If not remedied, however, school refusal will affect performance. These students want to learn and interact with friends deep down, but anxiety and possibly depression impede their growth. If these symptoms are not present, the reason your child may not be able to get out of bed could be depression.
What You Can Do
An immediate remedy would be to simply talk to your child sincerely and non-judgmentally after you’ve noticed a pattern of refusing to attend class or any of the aforementioned symptoms of anxiety or depression.
A few less obvious solutions would be to talk to your child’s friends, teachers, and mentors. Teachers see your child very often, perhaps even more than you do depending on your work schedule. A conference can work wonders in figuring out if a pattern of behavior has been recently developing in your child.
Friends of your child may be harder to talk to but they would definitely be open to talking if they’ve also noticed a difference in how their friend has been acting lately. Their parents can be a great help too if your child goes to a friend’s house frequently.
School counselors and social workers, if available, are an invaluable initial resource to utilize. Oftentimes, they are highly qualified and possess graduate level degrees. They can preliminarily assess your child and decide if a psychiatric evaluation is in order, for no cost. If your child doesn’t want to see the school counselor, there are many skilled social workers offering various methods of therapy in the private realm that can help.
Most importantly, know that this isn't only about your child's academics. Your child's health is extremely important, and keeping them mentally healthy and stable will also keep them physically healthy and allow them to progress in school. Remember, your child's well being comes first, you shouldn't just be worried about their grades but about they themselves.
So next time your child is a lump and won’t get out of bed, be mindful of school refusal, but don’t enable them either. Every puzzle makes a picture. Our master Chicago tutors at Chicago Academic can help you put that puzzle together, with strategies to help tackle performance anxiety related to the ACT and other standardized tests, executive functioning, and forming good study habits. Want to know more about our services?