School Avoidance

My daughter is currently in 6th grade and has always loved school. She has been a good student until this year when her grades started slipping. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden she has changed and fights with me on a daily basis about going to school. I can’t figure out why she doesn’t want to go to school. I’ve tried grounding her; however, this doesn’t seem to faze her. The school has told me to force her to come in by using whatever means possible, but this just seems to cause us both stress. I don’t know what to do and am wondering what advice you can give me.

J’s mom

 
 

Dear J’s mom,

People often start by trying to address the symptom instead of looking into what the underlying issue may be. Since she had been previously doing well in school but now doesn’t want to attend, one can conclude that something must have occurred that is causing her to now avoid school. Discussing with her the changes you see in her behavior may start a conversation and get her to open up to you. Acknowledging you know there is a problem instead of trying to tell your child not to worry will help her to feel understood. Keep in mind that kids often have an easier time when they don’t need to make eye contact, so a relaxed setting like the car or while watching TV may be a good place to start the conversation. If she is unwilling do not push the conversation and assure her you are willing to listen when she is ready to talk.

Alison Hipscher, LCSW