school refusers

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School Refusal
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A positive update!

I was a regular here - think it was 2010. My son started refusing when he started secondary school. We changed school twice and eventually withdraw him and committed to homeschooling. Refusing to go to school was replaced with refusing to get out of bed and engage with tutors. Then I just backed off and with the help of an amazing therapist just ‘let him be’. After about six months, my son told me he wanted to go to a private 6th form college where they had a gcse unit and begged for one last try. To cut a long stay Ray short, he managed to attend and got 8 gcse’s, 3 a levels, tops a gap year and travelled to South America and is not about to finish his first year at uni away from home.

He is still an anxious boy, I guess he will always be neurotic but he copes. I think the most important thing is to remain calm and let your child know whatever happens, you will always be there for them. Our therapist used to say to me that and education can be got at any time and it is true.

Re: A positive update!

I apologise for the bad grammar above - typing on my phone!

Re: A positive update!

So good to hear from you again, Sophy.

This has been a long haul for you and your son It amazing how resilient our children can be when they face these issues and then manage to work out a clear plan for themselves. It also make me wonder if all that time in school is really necessary!

Thank you for letting us know. I hope life is a bit easier for you too, now. You certainly deserve it.

Yours aye,


Re: A positive update!

Yes Simon, I think you are right. My son managed to take his GCSEs in one year having not attended school for 3 and he is certainly no genius! I think the small classes helped and the fact his teachers treated him like an adult. If they had free periods, they were allowed out of school - they were all on first names terms, he felt in control. The first semester at university was tricky but he coped. He always has his ‘moments’ when he comes home from uni for the odd weekend, doesn’t want to return but he does and I am always on standby to reassure him. Also, if my son is having a bad day and he misses a lecture, they are available online. Also, living in university halls of residence with other kids who are living away from home for the first time, he can see first hand that other children have anxieties and depression too. It’s not me just saying it. He feels ‘normal’.

The biggest piece of advice is Listen to your children. I used to argue back and try and change his mind whatever his fears and worries were. Now I just remind him that although his fears are real and justified at this moment in time, he will feel differently in a few days as has been proven in the past. I think our children find itt hard to regulate their emotions but I remind him everyone has worries and fears - it’s just other people keep it locked inside.

I just wanted to let people know there is hope - school just isn’t the right format for some kids.

Re: A positive update!

Hi Sophy
This is a really inspiring story and great to hear how well your son is doing now. I'd be interested to know if he ever had any diagnosis? Did his problems stem from difficulty with learning at all?

We have been considering having a tutor for my daughter which would probably be for an hour once a week, to see if she might enjoy learning one-to-one as classroom learning is too difficult for her. On past experience, we may well have the same outcome as you, but we thought it is worth trying.

During your son's time at home, did he do any activities outside the home? This is also proving to be a very tricky area for us, I think due to social anxiety.


Re: A positive update!

Hi Marie,

He was tested twice for educational special needs and no diagnosis there and not on the Autistic spectrum either. This was hard. I so wanted a label so I could ‘fix’ him and this is where I went wrong I think. He’s highly strung and has ‘an anxiety disorder’ of sorts. As a child/baby he had separation anxiety and I believe due to a very traumatic birth his flight or flight reflexes are over active. He overthinks everything! I found that sacral cranium osteopathy really helps him. It seems to calm the nervous system down. He tells me when he needs a session probably once a year. He’s doing ok right now but he still has his moments!

Re: A positive update!

Hi Sophy,

So lovely to hear from you again! Can't believe I'm still on here all those years later! So nice to hear your story. It gives lots of hope and some interesting reflection. Like you, I have learnt over the years the best way to talk or not to talk when anxiety steps in for my son.
I had to stand back this year and just let my son be...not suggesting anything, not making any judgements or decisions, but telling him I was here for him and like you, that the anxiety would subside. After several weeks he has started his own way of moving forward. He went and bought some books on managing anxiety, started exercising and taking more interest in life, This is because not only has school been taken out of the equation, but I am just getting on with my life and I think he feels the spotlight has been taken off him after all these years. So he hasn't managed to do his final year (second attempt this year) but he could do it later or become a mature age student at uni later. Or jusr find a job further down the track.

You also reminded me of a conversation we had had many years ago about traumatic births and how this might affect our kids. My son also had a traumatic birth and I still wonder if that had an impact. I suspect you are right. Our sons sound similar in their over thinking and anxiety that hangs around. Sounds like you both have found your way forward and it was so nice of you to pop back and give others support and hope.
Like Simon says, I hope you have found your own strength through this as you deserve to get your own life back. I am just beginning to know what that feels like.
All the best to you and your son and if you ever have a moment to pop by with an update or help any others on here...please do.
Take care,

Re: A positive update!

Hi Sophy - what fab as about the time I used to be on here how time flies.

So please all is ok

Take care xx

Re: A positive update!

Hi Sophy! ( and Linda! and Sarah T)

I remember you all from 2012.

Great news Sophy, Ive just come on with a positive update too.

I remember us talking about the traumatic births... mine was an emergency caesarean, fascinating , I wouldn't be surprised if there is a connection between their births nad their separation anxieties and later anxieties.

Best wishes to you both and anyone else from 6 years ago.

Re: A positive update!


Gosh I remember those conversations about traumatic birth! My son was one of those.
So good to hear your good news update. I am just so glad that some of you have come back on here to let others know that things do get better. We aren't quite there yet...but I think that once the idea of school is behind him things will improve dramatically. He is a different person already but isn't actually doing anything (study or work) but perhaps he needs more time yet.
His dad's expectations have, I believe, a lot to do with how quickly he will recover and move on.
Thanks again - great to hear that things do get better!!

all the best,
Linda xx