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In my years of practice I have had many of these cases in which children of different age refused to go to school and parents had to struggle to have their children continue their education. Obviously this is a wish of every parent to have their children achieve the highest level of education and become successful in their adulthood.

As parents, do you remember the time yourself first started going to school or started your first job. Did you feel any sort of anxiety or fear? Most of us might have had such feelings in their past.  Most people might feel somewhat anxious at least when face a new environment, task and or facing group of new people. Such feelings in children are much more intense due to being concrete, having lack of experience, dependent highly on their care givers, fear of leaving their parents and facing the unknown.

From early age, parents need to help their children develop a sense of security, safety, clearly communicating to certain fair rules they intorduce for home, school and in public for their children to follow. Parents also need to build child’s trust in them by being fair, giving them unconditional love, help them build self confidence and keep their promises on a timely manner.

Children of any age generally respond well to motivation and certain kinds of punishments. Punishment or discipline should not be “physical” but using mostly positive or negative rewards. Another words rewarding their good behavior with small token or things that interest the child and remove the child’s favorite objects if he or she does not agree to fulfill their obligations. Besides, parents can also control child’s play time or fun activities if did not fulfill their part. The rewards do not have to be expensive or glamorous.

Not every child’s difficulty going to school can simply be resolved with the above procedures. Sometimes the reasons for resistance going to school could be due to poor parenting, more deeper psychological issues such as separation anxiety (child fear of leaving their parents), parental or care givers emotional difficulties, parents marital problem, being bullied at school, having problem with attention, concentration or just not being able to fit with his age group or classmates.

If such daily discomfort continues, it would impact on child’s learning, memory, concentration, attention and happiness in general.  In such case it is important to consult with child psychologist for consultation, evaluation and effective parenting training.

I had a 10 years old patient who suddenly refused to go to school. Parents tried all tricks but did not work. After seeing the child I found out that for many years he was incapable of coping with daily school stress including lack of confidence taking exam, poor social and communication skills, problem with attention & concentration, feeling lonely and also not being able to fit with other classmates.  Since his parents had problem understanding his difficulties and never sought psychologist help, the child suffered for so many years and also maintained low grades at school. His parents often argued, had many marital problems and often blame each other in front of child about boy’s school problems.

I used personality testing to understand child’s emotional problem, which reveled depression and anxiety. I conducted intelligence, neuropsychological tests to rule out learning problem. Used GDSIII-R, the U.S. latest microprocessor technology to evaluate his impulsivity, attention and concentration. After comprehensive psychological and neuropsychological evaluation the child was diagnosed with ADHD and learning problem in writing and math.  

After few months of treatment including attention training, using different psychological treatments, communicating with child’s teacher, helping his parent’s marital problems, after the first month of treatment he went back to school but with some difficulties. We continued the treatment for few months more. At the end of his treatment child was happier, gained more self-confidence, made few friends with his classmates and his grades improved a lot. His attention and concentration also improved a lot. His parents also learned to resolve their differences peacefully and not using their son as an excuse for their own problems.

It was a happy ending for every member of the family

Good luck! Dr. Mike