In our town, we are about 3 weeks into the school year. This is the time that my office begins to get referrals to work with children who are so anxious about attending school that it begins to impact the entire family system. Every morning becomes a battle of wills, tears, rages, and chaos. Parents who used to maintain employment end up quitting their jobs or transitioning to work from home or at night because they are unable to reliably get to work on a day-to-day basis.
This scenario also causes frustration in the school setting. Administrators, counselors, and social workers are faced with addressing absences, tardies, placement and promotion issues, and teachers work diligently to find ways to help the child catch up missed work and missed instruction.
Often, this aversion to school is labeled as a disciplinary issue, both in the home and the school. Many parents attempt to put disciplinary measures in place to punish the behaviors that interfere with attending school. In the educational system, this is often labeled and addressed as truancy.
Fear of attending school is actually a specific, diagnosable, and treatable form of anxiety. Research suggests that anywhere from 8% to 28% of children could be diagnosed with Didaskeleinophobia, or fear of going to school.
How do I know if my child has an anxiety problem or a behavior problem?
A trained mental health provider(Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Licensed Counselor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker) will be able to give you more insight about whether your child's behaviors are related to anxiety concerns or some other issue. These are just some general guidelines to help point you in the right direction.
If my child (or a student at my school) is dealing with school phobia, what should we do?