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Anxiety and School Refusal in Adolescents

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It is not uncommon for students to occasionally skip class or not want to participate in school activities. You can just chalk it up to the teenage antics, drama, and moodiness. If a student continuously withdraws from school, especially the more social aspects, it can be a cause for concern. The problem may actually be the school itself, maybe it is not the most appropriate academic environment for the needs of your child. Perhaps the student is involved in some bullying issues that are hard to identify and detect. Either way, the student may be experiencing anxiety. In more severe situations it can lead to a condition recognized by professionals as School Refusal.

What is School Refusal?

School Refusal can be part of separation anxiety in younger children seen in times of transition. With adolescents, it is not so easy to distinguish. The youth themselves may not be able to pinpoint the source of their fear and anguish. If left untreated this anxiety can grow and be associated with more and more school -like environments. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has been shown to be effective but results can take time. As one can imagine, school refusal can significantly interfere with and limit a adolescent’s life. Teens who refuse school can fall behind and not graduate. They may struggle socially and struggle with developing and maintaining friendships, and become isolated from peers and society. They may also miss opportunities to have fun, discover interests and find things in life that excite them. The potential for engaging in behavior to avoid the eventual boredom from the lack of structure can lead to high-risk activities and addictions. Long-term running away and quitting are not viable strategies to handle life’s problems. You may need the assistance of a mental health professional.

Options for Your Education

Studies have shown that teens suffering from school refusal tend to have average or above-average intelligence. The Ontario Human Rights Commission mandates that education is available and accessible to all pupils. Ethically, we think this the right thing to do, sometimes it is a question of finding the right environment, support and people in place. There are many options for home learning with varying degrees of an appropriate structure for your child.

Some options you may want to consider:

  • Homeschooling- school at home, parent-guided learning…
  • Distance Education- Independent Learning Centre
  • Ministry approved Private school
  • E-Learning

What can we do?

Rather than focus too much on the source and potential pitfalls of the situation, learn from these obstacles and funnel the challenges into opportunities to grow. Now is the time to move forward! E-learning can provide an opportunity for teens to get back on track. E-Learning, as seen with online based ministry-approved school, meets the requirements that your child needs to graduate high school, go to college and university. It is self-paced, current and can provide students with work habits and learning skills that are fundamental to entrepreneurship and the workplace.

We wish you the best of luck in finding the right place to follow your academic potential.

Further information:

  • OntarioHomeSchool. org
  • Lyneham, Heidi., The Impact of Anxiety on Student Performance
  • AnxietyBC.com
  • The Anxiety and Depression Association of America
  • The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Canadian Mental Health Association