What can I do to help my 10 year old who is refusing to go to school?

"It happen right after he turned 10 (just 3 weeks ago). We don't know what to do. He missed 2 weeks of school. We started taking him to doctors to see what was going on, but that has not worked. Yesterday the ISO officer and the principal ripped him out of my arms and told me to leave school. He screams so loud and cried, "Mommy, don't leave me." It was the hardest thing to do. My question is, are they allowed to do that? And will my son ever get over this? Is this a life long thing? What can I do as a mother to help him?"

Asked by Angela after reading the article, "When Your Child Refuses to Go to School":
In Topics: Motivation and achievement at school, My Relationship with my child's school, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
Nov 12, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

The good news is that your son will not always be afraid to go to school.  If the onset of this was very sudden, most likely something happened, which can be discussed and a solution can be found.  It's great that you've taken him to the doctor and ruled out anything medical or physical.  

The key to helping your son is to find out why he's afraid to go to school.  When you ask him why he doesn't want to go to school, does he give you a specific reason? If he isn't able to articulate why he's afraid to go to school, ask him some very specific questions about a variety of possible problems.  Is he being bullied by someone?  Is the school work too hard for him?  Did something embarassing happen to him at school?  Did he get a bad grade on a test and he's embarassed to face the teacher?   Maybe you son is experiencing general anxiety.  To get to the bottom of it, ask him what symptoms he has in the morning when he thinks about going to school.  Does he experience a racing heart, sweaty hands, or fearful thoughts?  If he describes any of these thoughts, he may be experiencing generalized, or test anxiety.  There are many behavioral and cognitive techniques he can use to calm down his body and mind.  Those include deep breathing, positive self-talk, and distraction.  Have him talk to his school counselor to discuss how each of these techniques can help him.  

As a mother, you can give him lots of positive reinforcement.  You may have to get stern when explaining to him that going to school is not an option.  Tell him that he has to go, and that he will have to continue to go until he finishes high school.  Explain to him that you will be there to help him get through it.  He's not all alone, and the only way you can help him is if he tells you what's making him not want to go.  If he's unwilling to talk to you, ask another trusted adult or relative (such as an older brother or uncle) to try speaking with him.  Eventually he'll talk to someone about his feelings.  When he does, he'll be more likely to be willing to go back to school.

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