School phobia: my child does not want to go to school anymore
Your child is not lazy; he likes to learn. It is not poorly noted, on the contrary … One morning, he announces that he does not want to go to school. You question him: is he sick, fears a sad note, is he afraid of a teacher, mockery or assault by other children?
No, he said, nothing special is just that today he does not want to go, feels wrong … he can not. Your anxious insistence succeeds in getting him out of the house; you see him dragging him to the door of the school where he falls into tears, in a state of astonishment. Back at home, he calms down and swears that tomorrow, no problem, he will return. However, the next morning, same scene: stomach ache, vomiting sometimes. He really can not go. Passing in vain from the threat to encouragement, the misunderstanding falls on you: you have seen nothing come – then the anguish – what happens? What to do?
The teachers did not notice anything special, which does not reassure you at all! Your entourage, your pediatrician, your friends talk to you about school phobia, this anxiety disorder that occurs unexpectedly at any point in the school’s career: recognized as such, it gives rise today to analyzes more and more diffused. Should we always diagnose a school phobia? If yes, what should be done in this case?
Anxious school refusal or school phobia?
We must not confuse them. Concerned school refusal is most often linked to the fear of failure. This is a massive performance anxiety, with physical manifestations. We talk about blocking school: the child is afraid to go to a school that does not refuse it. Social pressure, parents, fierce elitism: the child has the anguish of not being up to par, so not to be loved. In Japan, where competitiveness is pushed to its maximum, more than half of psychiatric consultations are motivated by anxious academic refusal and self-esteem.
The school phobia is an extreme manifestation of anxiety in school. However, it is not the school work that is at stake; it is the place that crystallizes its anguish. Panic attacks, at the moment when the very idea of crossing the doors of the school, despite its sincere desire to go there, generate many physical manifestations, often spectacular. The aid, therefore, does not fall under the same approach.
Avoid panic, but a golden rule: understanding, benevolence and … action!
Understanding school phobia in benevolence
The causes differ according to the personality of the child and its history, but most often the school phobia is:
- The prolongation of social anxiety, following separation anxieties in early childhood.
- The consequence of fear concerning the health of his parents (following the recent mourning of a relative, the illness of a parent …) The child needs not to go away to watch if all goes well.
- Fear of trauma in school (aggression, racketeering, moral or physical violence)
Nice to know: all children can be afflicted with school phobia. It affects 2 to 5% of students in Western countries. Your child is not the only one to whom this happens, which encourages listening to others.
Do not pass judgment on him. Do not show your concern. Make sure your understanding and support is unalterable, as well as the existence of effective means of help, even though it is not psychically able to devise an outcome. He wishes this issue, but it is the thought of the impossible that drives his school phobia into a destructive circular logic: the less he goes to school, the more he dreads it, and vice versa.
Acting without delay
The school phobia, whatever the age of the child, must be considered of its serious nature and support quickly.
Because several factors determine its evolution and therefore the actions to be carried out with professionals of mental health:
- The stage of schooling in which it occurs (often at the entrance to the 6th or the high school). The later it appears late to school, high school), the more difficult it is to treat, and it can then lead to a de-schooling and a desocialization.
- the intensity of anxiety
- Associated disorders: it goes from the trouble of the self-esteem to a real depression. It may also have an aggravation of ancient diseases like asthma, diabetes, etc.
- Dare to talk about it, as calmly as possible, as soon as the trouble sets in and has been identified.
- Go with the child without delay to consult a therapist (child psychiatrist): he is responsible for determining whether the child is suffering from depression or not and adapting his therapy. He will reassure the child, search for the reasons for his suffering and build a return strategy (cognitive-behavioral therapies work well)
- Get in touch immediately with the school officials, management, teachers. Obtain lessons and homework: using correspondence courses is a bad idea in the case of a school phobia, as this reinforces the child’s isolation and can lead to Rapid desocialization. Instead, use a homework accompanying the person, a student or a private tutor, and tell the child that it is only a matter of going back to school. It is essential that he keep in mind that he will be able to resume his place: a projection that he needs.
- Maintain the connection between your child and the school-place: a complement to the work of the therapist, meetings with essential partners, teachers or the director, outside school hours. The school phobia and family disarray around him are no longer ignored or discredited of all stakeholders of the school. The meetings also with his classmates at the end of classes are relevant. Your child must understand that his place is kept and waiting for him!
- Have your friends come to your house often (under the pretext of bringing the classes). The important thing is that the child is as disconnected as possible from his social and educational environment.
- Last but not least, avoid any trial of strength; Injunctions and threats will be unproductive, or even seriously tense. Make sure that the environment of the child, grandparents, siblings, relatives, also adopts this attitude, but also distract the problem. Avoid the guilt of being the cause of upheavals in the family unit. Your reassurance, your unfailing will to accompany you in this ordeal and your confidence in your success in returning to school are your best assets, bringing their light effects to the coordinated mobilization of all members of his effective and professional entourage.