Common Signs & Symptoms of School Refusal

There are many signs of school refusal and some are more common than others. Below are some of the signs you can look out for.

Desire not to go to school

School refusal behaviours will be shown when students feel that they are not accepted at school, are not understood, have a fear of failure, or are frustrated at feeling a low sense of self-esteem. When these factors are in place, then a strong reluctance to attend school sits in.

Refusal to go to school

Some kids refuse to go to school because of anxiety to do with social pressures, learning expectations, depression of feeling they aren’t good enough, a reluctance to leave the home where they felt comfortable to learn away from the school, the feeling that the school doesn’t understand their neurodivergent needs (e.g. Autism, ADHD, dyslexia etc), a decrease in a sense of belonging in their school community.

Poor school performance

Particularly with secondary school refusers, the recent pressure of academic performance has increased through exams, expectations to catch up on any learning deemed lost after the pandemic, and a breakdown in positive communication with their school. Increased school refusal adds to poor school performance and general happiness.

Behaviour problems at school

Behaviour problems are also called ‘Care Seeking’ behaviours. Teachers and schools need to identify students’ lagging skills and unsolved problems related to behaviour problems.

The kid is not the issue. Collaboration between teachers and students with problem-solving promotes a problem-solving partnership and engages students in solving problems that affect their lives.

Difficulty concentrating in class

Students demonstrating school refusal behaviours, is often due to distress and having a different voice going on in their head making it really challenging to focus for extended periods of time.

If a student isn’t feeling like they are being listened to, rather being spoken to, then this is a reason to switch off and stop concentration.

Feeling isolated or lonely at school

This is an awful feeling for both the young person and the parent.

Positive social interaction is really important for all of us in life, and school is a major place for this to be nurtured by teachers. Feelings of isolation and loneliness bring about depression, headaches, and school refusal behaviours.

Anxiety and stress about going to school

Young people showing extreme tiredness, talking about friendship issues, negative teacher relationships, frustrated language, anger, confusion at work overload, lack of curriculum understanding or just simply not talking at all and staying in their room on screens, are signs that there are worries.

These signs can be linked to your child having stress about wanting to go to school. Anxiety about attending school is real, and can quickly embed itself making school avoidance a larger problem.

Mood swings

High levels of stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, and irritability or frustration at a challenging situation which isn’t changing causes mood swings.

Often, heightened emotions such as anger, frustration or disappointment can also cause mood swings related to school refusal in both parents and young people.

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