It sounds like you are very concerned about your 16 year-old, especially since his/her symptoms have gone on for several weeks. If you have not done so already, please take your child to his pediatrician or family physician as soon as possible for a complete check-up, to rule out any medical reason for his/her symptoms. Then you can start to look at possible emotional reasons why he/she does not want to go to school.
Make sure you talk this over with your child’s school counselor or school social worker. If it has been seven weeks since your child has been at school, he/she will have quite a bit of make-up work to do. The counselor or social worker may have some insight as to what could be going on at school that is bothering your child, and may have options for your child to get caught up with schoolwork. You can also ask the counselor or social worker for a referral for an experienced Child and Family Therapist to help you through this difficult time.
In the meantime, try to be supportive and encourage your child to talk about what it is that is causing him/her to not want to go to school. If it is grades, let him/her know that there are always ways to turn things around with the help of teachers and tutors. Many times kids don’t know how to ask for help and then they get behind and they feel there is no way out. If the problem is a social issue, the help and support of a professional will be very helpful. If your child has a certain talent or interest, help him/her to continue with that activity at home.
Do not allow your child to stay home alone if you are at work during school hours….you don’t want him/her to think they are on a “vacation” and have free reign to the house when you are gone. Being home should not be rewarded, but on the other hand, if he/she is truly in emotional pain and is afraid to go to school, it can be very difficult to know exactly what to do.
Hopefully with your love and guidance, with the support of the school, and with the help of a professional therapist, your child will be able to return to school and get caught up. Changes do not always happen overnight, they can take time, so try to be patient. If you would like to discuss your situation in more detail with a crisis counselor, our Hotline is available 24 hours every day of the week. We are here for parents and kids of all ages.
Take care, and best wishes to you and your child!