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Most kids will try and get out of going to school at some point in their education.

However, when their resistance becomes a daily struggle, you may be at a loss regarding how to address the issue.

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How do you deal with a child who doesn’t want to go to school?

Fortunately, you can take steps to encourage a child to return to school regularly and address the problems at the heart of their refusal.

1. Establish whether their behavior is normal

There is a difference between school refusal that occurs for a specific (often temporary) reason and chronic resistance. To determine whether a child has a long-term issue or is simply going through some short-lived troubles, consider whether any tests or important projects are coming up. You could also look into whether there have been any issues with friendships that could be making them reluctant to go to school.

If you can’t determine the cause of the refusal, you should also consider how strongly they resist attending school. For example, some children throw tantrums but go to school after some firm coaxing. Others, however, will physically fight those who try to send them through the school gates and may run away in the middle of the day. This is a sign that there is a serious issue.

2. Decide whether you need to take action

If you can find the root of the child’s avoidance issues, you have little reason to worry. Once their worries about tests or friendship tiffs have passed, they will return to school regularly. Their grades and attendance are unlikely to be hugely impacted by normal avoidance.

Even if a child resists school daily, this could still be considered normal if they attend for the whole day and are regularly on time. If, however, they display signs of a more serious problem and are willing to lash out at adults trying to make them attend school, you need to take further action. Chronic school refusal can affect a child’s life, causing poor grades and behavioral problems.

3. Stay calm and positive

Once you have established that the child’s school refusal is problematic, you must stay positive about the situation. While you may be tempted to yell at them, this will not have any positive effects and could worsen the issue. Remaining positive will help you to focus on getting the child to return to school.

4. Talk to them

Start by talking firmly and empathetically with the child about the importance of going to school. While you need to remind them that school is compulsory, you can also reassure them that you will do your best to make their experience as enjoyable as possible.

Parents and teachers must remain in close contact in cases of school refusal as they can work together to find solutions quickly. They can also inform each other about the child’s whereabouts and ensure that they are not regularly truanting.

5. Remind children of the consequences of school refusal

A number of negative consequences come with missing school, such as falling grades, a poor attendance record, and missed opportunities to get involved with fun activities. As well as reminding them of these factors, you could even consider showing them this informative video.

6. Offer them incentives

While it is important not to make a habit of treating children, offering them small rewards for attendance will help motivate them to go to school and boost their confidence. This article may be useful for more advice on motivating school-avoidant kids.

7. Remember to look out for underlying issues

There are a number of underlying issues that could be causing long-term school resistance issues. Bullying, for example, is sometimes a long-term problem that can knock a child’s confidence and affect their willingness to go to school. Separation anxiety is also a common cause in younger children. In some cases, you may suspect neglect or abuse at home. Contact the relevant authorities immediately if you have concerns about a child’s safety.

Finally, mental health problems may impact a child’s attendance levels. If you suspect conditions such as depression, try sending them to the school counselor.