A new semester of school has started. And many parents are hoping that this means a fresh start. That this semester their teen will get up and go to school. It’s one thing when your teen is disrespectful at home, but what happens when your teenager refuses to go to school? And what can a parent do to fix the situation?
Help! My Teen Refuses To Go To School
We are going to delve into what to do when your teen refuses to go to school, citing 7 main problem areas that you should review in your home to bring about positive changes. Then you will know exactly where to direct your attention as you seek to solve the problem of your teenager avoiding school.
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What is Truancy?
Before we jump in, we are going to do a little damage control. If your teenager refuses to go to school, chances are they have missed a lot of school or be considered chronically tardy. Your teen may be setting into motion some school and possibly court intervention. So let’s get ahead, and make sure you understand your school requirements.
Each state is different as what they define as truancy, tardy or chronic absenteeism. Truancy typically refers to missed days beyond the allowed excused parent or doctor note amount. Tardies are when your child is late to school (this may be by a minute or up to another allotted amount of time). Chronic absenteeism refers to all the reasons your child has missed school (sick days, late, skipping, etc…)
And then within each state, each school district has there own interpretations. Truancy and chronic absenteeism in the United States is defined by Attendance Works as, “Like truancy, chronic absence has no common definition, though many researchers and schools monitor how many students are missing 10 percent or more of the school year. That’s about two days a month, or 18 days in most school districts.”
Make sure to review your school’s handbook or online guidelines. Call your school and make sure you understand how many days your child was late or missing. And then ask if your child is in danger of being filed on as “unruly or truant.”
Fighting with your teen at home Is rough enough. Make sure you are interacting with the school and staying informed of your child’s current standing in regards to missed hours, days and tardies.
Unfortunately, some families ignore the problem until the school or courts step in and file charges. But you don’t have to as I’m going to show how to start solving the problem TODAY!
7 Reasons Teenagers Refuse To Go To School
There are many reasons tweens and teens refuse to go to school. After working with the courts and families struggling with truancy issues for 8 years, I think I have heard every reason in the book. So while your family and your teenager are unique, we are going to cover the tops reasons so you can uncover the main root of your teen’s issues.
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Chronic Illnesses Leads to School Refusal
Many tweens and teenagers refuse to go to school due to illness or not feeling well. Sometimes a health issue that a child has can worsen during puberty. Or a teen becomes tired of feeling different so they stop taking take their medication. Other times, teenagers overuses their sick privileges saying they don’t feel well when they really could go to school.
Sit down with your teen and have an honest talk about how often they really feel unable to go school due to illness. Discuss the importance of good sleep, eating healthy and taking their medication consistently. Your teenager is no longer a little child so it is time they step up and play a bigger part in managing their health.
Work with your doctor to see if a new medication would be more effective with your child. I know for me, it took years to find the right combination to help with my heart condition and my body.
If your child genuinely needs to stay home more often, talk with the school nurse to see if there is a waiver form that will cover more absenteeism for a chronic physical condition. Or if you and your teen are open to it you may wish to talk to your school or your local homeschool group about doing online school or homeschooling.
Teens That Stay Up Too Late Often Refuse to Get Up
Surprise, surprise! One major reason teenagers refuse to go to school is because they are too tired. When they stay up til 2 am or 3 am, morning comes quickly. And a tired teenager is not typically a respectful or an agreeable one.
As a mom with two grown boys and one teen daughter still at home, I know that it is hard to keep track of teens staying up late. But we can certainly make it less fun to stay up!
Try out these suggestions to make staying up unrewarding:
- Have the WiFi shut off at a certain time each night.
- Insist your teen go to school, tired or not. Don’t reward staying up late.
- Take phones, computers and game consoles out of their room at night.
- Don’t allow your teens to sleep in til 1 pm on weekends getting their schedule completely off.
Lack of an Organized Household Affects School Attendance
If your household lacks clear rules and boundaries, school attendance can be greatly affected. Maybe you have a great, respectful teenagers, but you all can’t get out the door to save your life.
Getting out the door in the morning starts the evening before. Make sure the kitchen is tidy before you head to bed at night. Have everyone prep their lunches the night before or check to make sure they have money if they are buying at school. Does your child who can never decide what to wear, have an outfit picked out for the morning?
Make sure forms that need to be signed are completed and everyone has their bags packed. Also make sure you have clear guidelines on how everyone is getting to school. If some of your kids are suppose to be on the bus, don’t rescue them twice every week when they “accidentally” miss the bus. Rewarding them missing the bus only leads to more future mornings arguments as your teenager will whine to get you to take them to school.
You don’t have to be the most organized house in the neighborhood, but you do need to be crystal clear on the rules you do have!
Kid Controlled House Leads to School Absenteeism
Unfortunately, I see way too many households where the kids are running the house. Instead of the parents setting the household rules, the parents continual give into their kids. This leads to whiny, ungrateful teens and frazzled parents.
As humans, we like to have our way. And if kids are used to having their way all the time, and not having to work for it, many teens will believe that life revolve around them. This attitude of “its’ all about me” becomes a major problem when that teenager decides they no longer want to go to school. The teenager refuses to go to school, and the parent feels helpless to make them.
Begin to learn how to take back control of your household. Regaining control of your household will not be easy, and it will get worse before it gets better. But you can do this. Try taking these steps:
- Write down the most important rules for your household. Pick only a few for now.
- Show your teenager the new house rules and apologize for letting them take control of the household.
- Read the book, Boundaries with Teens to learn how to set boundaries.
- Enforce your rules and stick with the consequences.
- Read post on How to Avoid Raising Entitled Tweens and Teens
- Learn to push feelings of discomfort when you tell your children NO.
Many moms suffer from “mom guilt” and believe on some level that they “owe” their kids. This only hurts your kids in the long run. Take charge of your household. It is OK if your kids don’t like your rules or think you are unfair. It is more important that your teens have a responsible, loving adult in their life, than another friend!
Bullying Causes Teens To Refuse To Go To School
Bullying is a fact. And it can be a terrible thing if your child is the one targeted. If your child has typically enjoyed school, but suddenly doesn’t want to go, ask them directly if someone is bullying them. Most kids will not tell you ” what is wrong.” So you need to be VERY direct and bring up the topic of bullying if you suspect it is happening at school or online.
Some options that I have seen parents try:
- Discuss with the school and ask about your options to protect your teen from bullying.
- Teach or find a counselor that can show your teen effective ways to stand up for themselves.
- If the problem is causing major damage, discuss switching schools or doing homeschooling for a year.
- Consider your legal options, if the bullying is following your teen home via online.
Bullying has reached a new level with the online world. And the laws are slow to catch up. Take your teen’s concerns very seriously. However, involve them in the process of coming up with a solution so they feel like can retain some of their power.
Anxiety Causes School Avoidance in Teens
Does your teen struggle with anxiety. This is a reason that many parents and teens site for school avoidance. And it can be the trickiest to fix. Anxiety can be hard to pinpoint.
Work together with your teen to discover the triggers for their anxiety. Write down ways they can cope with their anxiety in a healthy way. Also discuss how by only listening to their feelings of anxiety, your teen often makes their situation worse. For example, avoiding school makes them feel slightly better this week. But next week, their anxiety will be worse when they don’t feel ready for the big test!
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Research non medical coping methods. (We LOVE this weighted blanket!)
- Discuss if talking to a counselor would be helpful.
- Encourage your kid to go to school everyday. Agree to come get them if after 2nd period they still feel awful.
- Learn ways to decrease anxiety (more time on social media can increase anxiety in some teens)
- Ensure that your teen is getting enough uninterrupted sleep.
- Make sure you are having family time together where your teen feels connected.
Some children are more prone to anxiety. But we want to work with our teens to learn to manage their anxiety and not just try to avoid life. So work for a balance to pushing them to step outside their comfort zone AND do things that recharge them.
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Unmotivated Teenagers Refuse To Go To School
Let’s face it. School is more of a one size fits all. If your teenager or tween is more of a hands on learner, then sitting in a classroom can start to wear on them. Your teenager may struggle in school and feel like they are falling behind more and more each day.
If your teenage doesn’t like school, focus on giving them the bigger picture of life. School is only a portion of life so we want to give our teenagers a picture of what life will be like after school.
Help your teen feel “smart” now and develop an exciting plan for what their life will be like after high school. You can do this by utilizing several of the following ideas:
- Work with your teen to find a part-time job where they feel appreciated.
- Help your teen start a small business.
- Consider switching your teen to a career development school.
- Take your teen to a college or trade fair.
- Encourage them to develop a hobby they love.
- Work with the school if your teen needs credit recovery help or find a credit recovery program online.
Show your teen that everyone is gifted in their own ways. And even though they may not feel “successful” in school, that does NOT indicate an unexciting future. While school may not be fun to them, it is necessary to finish high school so that they can move on to the next stage in life!
Motivating Your Teens to Go To School
Now, that you have read through the main reasons teenagers refuse to go to school and identified the root of your teen’s problems, it is time to take action.
If you have made it this far, let me reward you with these two life changing secrets! 1. Expect Your Teens to Go To School. 2. Make Your Teenager Responsible to Get Up and Go to School.
Something powerful happens when WE, as the parents, shift our expectations. We move out of the position of begging and parent from a point of strength. Kids are smart. They can sense when we aren’t resolved about something. And they also know when they have crossed the line. We just need to back up the line!!
Expect your kids to go to school. It is the best thing for them. Stop feeling sorry for them or making excuses for them to the school.
Lastly, put your teenager in charge of getting themselves up. When we go in and battle with them in the morning to wake up, it becomes our problem and not their responsibility to get up. Mom working as an alarm clock should only be an infrequent back-up. Inform your kids that they are now old enough to get up in the morning. If they don’t, you will call the school and let the school know that your teenager refuses to go to school.
When we approach our kids lovingly but FIRMLY RESOLVED. Most kids will call your bluff (so be prepared), but then will get in line!
Help! My Teenager Refuses to Go To School
Can’t wait to hear about your success! Have questions? Drop me a question below and I will do my best to help you problem solve!
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