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Guiding Children Back to School

Banace & Thrive Mental Health Counseling & Psychotherapy

When children are resistant or do not attend school, the Impact on their development is staggering and can lead to forming a set of avoidant behaviors that are lifelong. Compared to other children, a higher percentage of these resistant children do not graduate. The underlying reasons for resisting or not attending school should be addressed immediately. The longer students do not attend, the less likely they are to return.

Children are resistant to attending school for a variety of reasons. There are many complexities involved with both understanding School Refusal & School Avoidance and guiding a child to attend school. To help a child we must look at the whole child, all the aspects of who they are, and the team involved in helping them.

We have staff members available to treat School Refusal and School Avoidance and are in the process of forming groups.

Here are some tips to guide a child to attend school:

1.     Identify the issue by exploring all aspects of who the children are and what is occurring in their environment. Also, remember to ask the child. Some children prefer to write how they feel.

2.     Reinforce their strengths by validating the process of what they do, not just the goals they achieve. For example, instead of telling the children a writing piece is good, let them know you are impressed by their effort in completing the piece.

3.     Gently reframe the language they use from “I can’t do it” to “It’s a challenge for me to do it”.

4.     Work as a cohesive team with school personnel, therapists and parents to create a plan. Cohesiveness keeps the focus on the child, provides a sense of safety for a child and reinforces the plan.

5.     Create a plan that is realistic, has small goals and can be adapted based on the needs and progress of the child.

6.     When a child becomes upset, pause and respond thoughtfully and empathetically instead of reacting with anger and frustration.

7.     Create an enriched school and home environment where a child feels “Safe, Understood, Valued & Wanted”*

8.     Find a Licensed Mental Health Professional who is experienced treating School Refusal or School Avoidance.

9.     Assign a “Point Person” at school who will be the staff member primarily responsible for communicating with the student. This should ideally be a person with whom the student feels safe and comfortable.

10. Advise the teachers working with the student that the student is struggling with School Avoidance or School Refusal.

* ©® 2016 Rose Celia Rosato, MA,LPC, Raising Thriving Children Rose Rosato, MA, LPC

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