KidsMD Health Topics

School Refusal in Children

  • Overview

    There are a few common reasons for your child's refusal to attend school. You might notice your child's phobia in these common situations:

    • Going to school for the first time: This is a normal type of school refusal. This develops with a child's normal separation anxiety, or uneasiness about leaving a parent figure. This type of fear usually goes away within a few days.
    • Fear: Older children may have school phobia based on a real fear of something that may happen to them at school, such as a bully or a teacher being mean. In this situation, it is important to talk with your child to determine what is causing his fears.
    • Distress: Some children are truly distressed about leaving their parent and going to school. Usually, these children enjoy school but are anxious about leaving their parents.

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches school refusal

    Children's unique Advocating Success for Kids (ASK) program works with children under age 14 who are having learning, developmental, emotional or behavioral problems in school or at home. Our multi-disciplinary team evaluates their developmental, learning and/or behavioral difficulties, and refers families for appropriate support services.

    school refusal, truancy, school refusal vs truancy chart

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