We all had those days when we didn’t want to go to school. Maybe we would rather sleep in, or we had a big presentation we didn’t feel like doing. Perhaps our friend was mad at us or we were just tired of math class. But what happens when it’s not just that you don’t “feel” like going to school, but actually have a phobia of it? How do you, as a parent, encourage your teen to attend? Here are some tips for coping with a teen who has a school phobia.
Recognize the Signs
The first step towards managing school phobia is to recognize the symptoms in your teen. If they have a fear of going to school, then they might suddenly exhibit physical symptoms like feeling ill, having a headache or being extremely tired. They also might cry or refuse to leave the house when it’s time to go to school. Other indicators include running away from school, skipping class or having a panic attack.
Consider the Causes
School phobia can be set off by numerous different factors. In some cases, it can be triggered by a traumatic experience, such as the death of a family member, illness, divorce, the birth of a new baby, or a family move. It might also be caused by problems at school, such as bullying, a lack of self-confidence, or fears of being humiliated in front of their peers. These are some of the many reasons why your teen may be experiencing school phobia.
Set Manageable Goals
Even though it’s difficult, it’s important to continue encouraging your teen to attend school. This is best done by setting small, manageable goals with them so that they can be encouraged by their own progress. Goals like this might include talking about their fears, asking them to list the positive aspects of school, arranging an informal meeting with your teen and their teacher, encouraging interests outside of school and being re-exposed to classroom settings in small increments.
You might find it beneficial to speak with your child’s teacher and see what suggestions they offer. They might have insight into why your teen is afraid of attending school. If your child’s phobia persists, it’s really important to seek help from a mental health professional. It’s quite likely that your child’s fear is rooted in a deeper anxiety issue that they need professional support with, and is an issue that you cannot address on your own.
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