school refusers

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Mental Wellbeing
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My son refuses to go to school

How do you tell the difference between school refusal & a child just wanting to get out of going to school?

I'm from the UK, and I've had problems with my son and school since the year 5(5th grade), I would get him up in the mornings, he'd refuse to put his uniform on etc, we'd always end up at school late because he would be dragging his feet, he never joined any school clubs, by the end of year 6 the only way we managed to turn things round slightly was when they made him a school prefect and gave him a jumper, that he had to work at his attendence and tardiness to keep the jumper and the position of prefect, and he managed that and I was so proud of him. Now he's moved up to senior school and the problem has started all over again, in the 3wks since term time has started he's been to school twice, other days he will complain that he's ill or has an headache or tummyache etc, only to take him to the doctors, and there's nothing wrong with him, now he simple refuses to get up and go into school, I try to coerce him and he just ends up in tears or he'll throw tantrums, I've been in contact with the school & the local education authority, they've been to the house and even they've not been able to get him to go to school and he told them he'll go in the next day, and then following day he'll refuse all over again, it's so bad we're having a meeting at the school today to figure out whats going on with him, and I've reached that point where i'm considering sending him to live with his father to see if that would make a difference, i'm at the end of my rope and I don't know what to do.

Re: My son refuses to go to school


You ask how you can tell if your child is just being lazy, or if there is a genuine problem. I note that you have been up since early this morning worrying about this (assuming UK timings!) This is a tough one. No doubt you have read some of the other entries in this forum, and seen how hard it is for other parents, who are struggling to get their child into school. I mention this because we have all been through this, and it is really difficult to understand and to cope with.

I recall being told by one senior social worker 'She has got you wrapped around her finger'. But there was a real problem. Laziness was not the real issue, but may have been part of it, I suppose.

The best test that I can suggest is to examine what he does when not in school. After the morning battle, he will be exhausted (you, too). But once he has got passed that stage, what does he do? Does he head off to meet people in a shopping centre or the park? Does he sulk in front of the TV? Does he communicate with others out of school on the internet? Or does he look bored? Does he do his chores? Look at or do his homework? Does he talk about just wanting to be the same as everyone else? What does he do after school?

By now, you probably have had your school meeting, but if not, ask if there will be minutes, and if not write up an account of the meeting and send a copy back to the school 'to check you got everything right'. Try to do everything they ask, and report back on progress - and expect them to do the same; you can always check at the next meeting. Try to look on these meetings as a positive action which is in your son's interest. Our school tried everything to avoid involving Social Services. That was probably a mistake, as we delayed getting the help we needed.

Please let me know how you get on.



Oh! One more thing. That rope is longer than you think! We have to be there for our children, and sharing with us shows that you care - a lot. We will be with you through this if you need us.

Re: My son refuses to go to school

Hi Loretta,

It's a tough one, even the professionals have difficulty giving a diagnosis.
You seem to be doing all the right things. I agree with Simon, ask for minutes of any meetings and keep a file/diary of everything you do and any people you speak to about your son and make a note of any advice you have been given, as you may find this a long slow process and it can become difficult remembering previous meetings etc.
All I ever say to others is, let your son know you believe him and that you are on his side. He's probably finding it as confusing as you are.
Don't push him too much, small steps ..... thats the way to go.
Take care.

Sue x