Is your child afraid to go to school? Many young children, around the age of two, experience normal separation anxiety and may be upset and clingy when they are separated from parents. This is normal and usually goes away with comfort and time. In a few cases, this anxiety lingers much longer and may indicate a more serious concern. Some children develop a long-term fear of going to school. This condition may be called school avoidance, school refusal, or school phobia.
Signs That Your Child May Be Experiencing School Phobia
Parents may suspect that school phobia is a possibility when children:
Parents and teachers can and should take steps to address a child’s school phobia to prevent a chronic, long-term problem that can substantially affect learning and a child’s ability to develop into an independent adult. First, parents should have the child examined by her physician to determine if there are underlying, treatable medical causes for the condition. Second, parents and the child can work with the child’s school counselor, teacher, or school psychologist to help determine possible causes for the problem. Together, parents and school staff can develop an intervention plan to increase the child’s school attendance and reduce refusal behaviors.
Seeking the help of a mental health professional when school phobia does not improve with intervention or is severe. This counseling should include the whole family when possible as family dynamics can both contribute to, and be influenced by, school phobia.