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What to do if Your Child Refuses to go to School

One of the most difficult and heartbreaking things for a parent is to watch their child become so upset at the thought of going to school… and if this is happening to you right now, know that you’re definitely not alone.


School refusal is a huge issue that affects so many children. The cause of their refusal may be due to one particular issue, or a build up of many factors. Whatever the reason may be, it’s incredibly stressful for both you and your child.


If your child refuses to go to school, here’s a few things you need to do:


Talk to them

Sit down with your child and have a chat to them. Try to find out the reason they don’t want to go to school. Remain calm and don’t become upset. If your child tells you why they don’t want to go to school, see if you can work together to solve the issue. Often however, it is very difficult for children to put into words why they are refusing to go to school. In that case, it’s important to contact your child’s teacher.


Talk to their teacher

If your child is unable or unwilling to tell you why they’re refusing to go to school, contact their teacher immediately. School refusal is something that you want to overcome straight away. The longer your child is away from school, the more difficult it becomes for them to return. Ask the teacher if they have noticed any issues in the classroom or the playground that may be causing the school refusal. Work together to develop a plan with enables your child to happily return to school.


Have a meeting

If your child appears to be having issues with another child at the school, ask their teacher to set up a meeting with yourself, the other child’s parents, the teacher and the principal. Discuss the issue in an open-minded manner and remember that there’s usually two sides to every story. Again, the most important thing is to develop a plan that focuses on getting your child back into the classroom as soon as possible.


Find a buddy

If your child has been away from school for a long period of time, it can be very daunting for them to return. Ask their teacher to find them a buddy to play with at recess and lunch, as well as to sit with in the classroom. Teachers are very much aware of which students in their class are supportive, friendly and happy to be a buddy.


Seek help

If you’ve done absolutely everything you can think of to get your child back to school and they still refuse to go, it’s a great idea to seek professional help in the form of a counselor or psychologist. Many schools employ their own counselors and will be able to set up an appointment with you and your child. They will then develop an ongoing plan and regular appointments to assist with getting your child back to school. Anxiety and bullying are very common reasons for school refusal and these are best dealt with by a professional who can teach your child effective behavioural strategies to deal with these issues.



The number one most important thing to remember is to keep the lines of communication between school and home open. Working together with the principal, teacher and counselor provide the most effective way to overcome school refusal.


School refusal can place an incredibly stressful burden on your child and your family, so it’s important to identify the issue/s and address them immediately. Seek help and work with the school to develop a plan to get your child back into the classroom as soon as possible. Remember that the longer your child is away from school, the more stressful it will be for them to return. The school and the teacher also want what’s best for your child and will do everything they possibly can to ensure a smooth transition back to school.


Lucy Mathieson

Lucy Mathieson

Lucy is a trained primary school teacher with a passion for baking. Lucy began her blog, Bake Play Smile, in 2013 and it has since grown into one of Australia’s most recognised food blogs. Bake Play Smile is all about fun, food and happiness. Lucy’s recipes have earned national acclaim through a number of awards and publications. She was a winner of the 2015 Best Recipes ‘Home Cook Hero’ competition in Super Food Ideas magazine, a Top 5 Finalist for the 2014 Mamamia Food Blogger Competition, a Top 5 Food Blogger on Every Recipe, and a Kidspot “Voices of 2014″ nominee.

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