School Refusal

(14 Posts)
RWRH41 Mon 31-Jan-11 11:42:20

my 13 yr old son is refusing to go to school. The stress on me and rest of the family is huge. it has happend before but thought it was all resolved. How do I deal? If I try and talk to him he just shouts. I have taken away his Xbox, phone, computer rights!! He says he feels sick everytime he goes into a lesson. How do I toughen him up? School aren't huge help - you must get him into school is their attitude. How do I physically get a strapping 13 year old into school. Help andy suggetions?!

susue Mon 31-Jan-11 11:53:52

My brother is going through the same thing as you except his son is a strapping 15 nearly 16 year old. You need to know from your DS why he feels sick at the thought of going to lessons. Did he used to enjoy school and this is unusual for him or is it something that's been going on for a while? My DN is missing doing all of his GCSE's and due to bullying that started last April hasn't attended school since September 2010 till now. Out of 165 days he missed 124 of them. You are stuck in the middle though because it's obviously the law that he goes to school but if he's upset by something you need to get to the bottom of it before you can move on. Have you been to the doctors with him, my DN has been quite depressed by his situation and the school has't been much help at all. THe hardest thing for your DS to do first is to open up and tell you why

northangerabbey Mon 31-Jan-11 11:56:35

I don't think it's a matter of toughening him up, but finding out what the problem is.

Do the school have a counselling service?

I'd be contacting the head tbh, they have to offer some support.

mummytime Belgium Mon 31-Jan-11 12:24:52

You need to talk to the school (DO NOT be frightened if they mention the EWO). See what strategies they have to help him once in school, and how they will facilitate his return. If you have a contact with the EWO see what they say, what strategies they suggest. You could also get him to see the GP, possibly being refurred for counselling help.

I have known teachers who have struggled with this with their own children. Get help.

I would also keep a record of all communication (including phone calls) you have with the school. Especially anything you ask for or they promise to do.

haggis01 Mon 31-Jan-11 13:01:03

Yes - mummytime you are right - do keep a record, schools often try to make out they were unaware of the severity of problems . At my DD school all communication is by email (and they are not received, no record of reciving etc)

Does your son still have friends? Sometimes school can be very intimidating if your friend group dumps you. Your son may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of GCSE's and the work, expectations of him etc that lie ahead. My DD in year 10 is getting increasingly fed up with school - the noise, boring lessons, the exams, aggressive classmates and the prospect of only more and more of the same in the future.

Sorry I can't offer more practical suggestions. There is always the option of home edding or the EWO agreeing to let your son stay home and the LEA providing some tutoring online or in person as a last resort. There are lots of archived and active threads on MN about Home ed.

My friend has a "school refuser" DD who really hates the noise and chaos and school in general and has done for years. The secondary school have agreed to let her come in late, leave early go to the med room and call home etc when it is getting too much for her, hoping that things will improve.
She also sees an Ed Psych but she still hates school but does actually mostly attend.

I don't think punishing your son will help - you need to gain his confidence and get him to talk quietly and rationally either with you or another party - perhaps a school counsellor?

Good luck with it - its hard.

Socy Tue 01-Feb-11 09:52:38

This is a horrible situation. I have the same thing with DS2 now in year 11, so I'm counting down the weeks! It is really hard to try to 'make' someone you love do something that obviously upsets them a lot. Counselling, probably something that you would have to organise yourself, might help - it did with a friend's son who was being bullied - my DS refused to go though.

Perhaps, rather than removing things, rewards could be offered? A trip to the cinema on a Friday night if he goes everyday, I add a few sweets to the lunch box sometimes, things like that. Something fun at half term, maybe.

Another option is to look at other schools, if possible, a fresh start might help. Does he have a slightly older friend/cousin or someone he might feel more able to explain the problems to? and they could then tell you. I find it much easier to deal with now DD leaves earlier for her bus, so there is just me and him left - I can be more patient and am lucky not to have to worry too much if we are late, but I know this is not possible for everyone.

McAlllister Tue 01-Feb-11 23:09:45

Hi Socy
I have a bit of a double perspective as my dd was school refusing when she was 8- an easier age to manage- plus I'm teaching in a big secondary.
The reason they advise you to get him in is that school refusing spirals and worsens the more they are off school. It is an anxiety thing and so the less he is in the more anxious he will be.
I second or third the idea of counselling though it may just be so he can see what is happening- he is not ill and the sick feeling is not a reason to stay off although it is very real. Likewise the strategies to get him some places of refuge. Ask the school if there is a non threatening after school/lunchtime club he can go to- filmclub maybe? The library?That has been shown to help attendance.
Also remember with schools as most things- its the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Without waiting till you are worked up and angry or very emotional, make an appointment with the head of year and say you need support- the EWO may be helpful-the school may have counselling in house.

cory Wed 02-Feb-11 08:27:17

Have been having similar situation with dd. What has really worked for us has been being very open with school: "yes, we do have a problem, yes we do need support". They have a very good counsellor and arranged it so that if dd comes into school and then feels she can't face the lesson she can still go into the counsellor's room and that counts as school attendance.

Fatfrumpy Tue 11-Sep-12 12:16:06

New to this so be patient! Have finally got son,13, to school. Am on my own. Ex husband lives abroad. I taught for 16 years at a challenging school yet cant seem to manage my own! Son has a great social life and seems popular but he views school as 'a waste of time' and has no fear of consequences. I ask him why he wont get up in the morning and he has no answer. He's bigger than me so I cant man-handle him out of bed. School so far have been supportive but i'm at the end of my tether. To complicate matters daughter is only 7 and picking up on his behaviours. I feel worn out. Desperate to get back to work but cant see that happening at moment as he is also guilty of truancy during the day. Ex wants to take him abroad to live with him. Wont be good for son but should I do it to save daughter from son's influence??

xmasevebundle Fri 14-Sep-12 03:02:16

I use to be one of those kids! Im now 19.

There could be many things wrong even at school. Bullying or anything.

As for the school, some are shit.

My mum and dad had social around saying they would get fined and then taken to court. Which does happen believe me!!!

I left my school and went to a place which i did my GCSE'S they wasn't great at all i am not proud of them. But i am a hairdresser which i did since i was 14.

Talk to the school or there is an place you can ring which i will ask my mum for the number. For support for you and DS.

flow4 Fri 14-Sep-12 07:56:03

Been there too, tho' my son didn't quite cross the line from truancy to school refusal. I got him to school most days for a year or so by effectively paying him £2/day for attending... No school, no money.
Personally, I think the problem is that schools no longer offer much to kids who learn by doing, rather than sitting still and listening ('activist learners'). Those young people who can't adapt get into trouble, are miserable and/or under-achieve. Some get diagnosed with a 'learning disability'; but really, the failure of the English national curriculum to cater for activist learners is a teaching disability. sad

cory Fri 14-Sep-12 09:57:48

Sorry to hear about your problems, Fatfrumpy.

My own pennyworth is that the reasons for school refusal are going to be different in each case. It's a question of finding out what is bugging your own individual child.

Dd hasn't got the slightest problem with sitting and listening, or with trying different learning styles for that matter, but struggles with school for reasons of anxiety concerning health.

Ds otoh who is an activist learner is not made particularly anxious by his academic failings; he goes to school quite happily every morning to meet up with his friends, chat up girls and generally get out of the house. School still has a lot to offer him, if not necessarily what his teachers had in mind. blush

Another child might be school refusing due to worried about bullying or worries about problems at home.

The key has got to be communication. It sounds like you have already established at least part of the problem. I'd still be exploring a bit more to see why he is so upset about this. Why he doesn't want to go to socialise, for instance? Does he struggle with friendships? Could he be made to look at school as a deal which will lead onto something more in his line? Is he aware that academic success isn't the only way of finding something he can enjoy doing? Can both of you discuss any route towards him finding out about things he might enjoy ?

gemblags1980 Tue 18-Sep-12 23:22:41

Hi
I am sorry you are having a problem with your son and his school. I have worked with young people who had these issues in the past. These are the three key things I would advise:
1) I know you have done this, but make sure you communicate with the school as soon as you can, and keep it positive, the school should then be able to offer support through the education social work team

2) speak via your sons form tutor to his class teachers, to see if they can identify any particular time /date that his school refusal began as it may be that once you go back and unpick it you may be able to identify a specific incident that triggered recent events

3) for the moment, focus on the positive , talk with your son and identify if there are any elements of school he does enjoy bad focus on getting him into school for that length of time, with any extra support he may need put into place. The school are usually quite open to flexible ways of working.

In my experience it's really important that you stay strong and positive during the key time before school, because you son may become very distressed and will do anything to avoid going into school, the other key time can usually be just as you are coming up to school. If you think you will need extra support during these times try and get that organised.
For help and support within school contact the schools connexions worker or the advisory centre for education.
Good luck, let me know how you get on. Inbox me if you want further help

fionaand Sun 23-Sep-12 15:58:33

I have had the same problem with my 14 year old daughter refusing to go to school. You have to talk to a year head or someone you trust at the school to help you try and find a way of getting him in even if its just for one lesson a day. But it is really important you don't push him or force him to go in as the chances are that he will harm himself as a way of getting out of going to school. Also take him to see you GP to see if it is some kind of depression/anxiety that he is trying to deal with if it is then try and get him referred to CAMHS for some counselling. You may need to phone CAMHS and talk to them yourself as sometimes the DR's referrral is not enough.

But most of all listen to him and don't try to force the issue. Just give him lots of love and support. This sometimes takes quite a while to sort itself out. Best of luck.

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