Indiana Psychological Association News

School Refusal Behavior: What’s the Reason?

School Refusal Behavior: What’s the Reason?
A child’s refusal to attend or remain in school all day is not uncommon, affecting 5-28% of children. Common reasons include: 1) avoidance of anxiety-provoking school-based triggers (e.g., teachers, peers, cafeteria, classroom); 2) escape from negative social or evaluative situations such as interacting with others or giving a class presentation; 3) attention or wanting to stay with parents; and 4) other reinforcers like sleeping late, watching TV, playing with friends, or engaging in delinquent behavior or substance use. 
To help a child return to school, parents, teachers, and mental health professionals experienced in school refusal must work together to share information, implement a treatment plan using an exposure-based approach, and address any family issues or medical problems that may impact attendance.
To learn more: Kearney, C.A. (2007). Getting your child to say “yes” to school: A guide for parents of youth with school refusal behavior. New York: Oxford University Press. 
Heather M. Chik, Ph.D., HSPP
Anxiety & OCD Behavioral Health Center
"PsychBytes” is a weekly educational resource from the Indiana Psychological Association (IPA) provided for psychologists, their colleagues and their patients.