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Back to School: What to do if kids don’t want to go

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HARTFORD -- School refusal occurs in about 5% of children and can relate to a myriad of problems. It can take up to 2 years for some to enter treatment.

Dr. Scott Hannan, Program Director, School Refusal Program, with the Institute of Living’s Anxiety Disorders Center joined FOX 61 Good Day Connecticut to talk about the issue.

School refusal occurs most often during times of transition, with the transition out of elementary school being a prime time.

School refusal is often driven by a desire to avoid discomforts like bullying, anxiety, depression, academic problems.

What parents should look for:

  • Recognition of school refusal. Look for patterns:  Missing full days.  Going in late.  Leaving early. Going to school, but spending excessive time in the nurse’s office or guidance office.  Missing certain days.  Missing after vacations/weekends.  Increase in physical symptoms

Treatment for school refusal entails:

  • Helping the child learn to manage their discomfort.
  • Working with parents to set a proper structure at home (e.g. proper bed time, proper wake time, set guidelines for what happens when not in school…such as no electronics)
  • Working with school to address concerns such as academic issues and bullying

What parents can do:

  • Keep a consistent schedule/expectation:  Proper sleep/wake times.  Avoid excessive time on electronics.  Keep the expectation of school attendance.
  • Work with the school to identify problems in the school environment.
  • Seek treatment if needed.
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