About School

Advice For Parents: How To Handle School Phobia


If your child suffers from some kind of anxiety, the start of a school year can sometimes be an unpleasant experience for him or her. This can result in school phobia, or school avoidance – a syndrome that shows up most visibly when there is a new school building involved (think about the first day of your school). Children with school phobia have a harder-than-usual time with separating from their parents, and any number of strange medical complaints may crop up.

Does this may sound familiar to you? One surely sees a lot of discussion about school phobia on parent teacher networking sites and at local PTA meetings. Here is some advice for parents with school phobic children.


A child suffering from school phobia is usually not very open about what he or she is feeling, so the resistance and fear show up in the form of medical symptoms, tantrums or obscure justifications for staying at home. In fact, a child with school phobia feels unsafe, and this may often have something to do with issues at home. A school bully is one of the most common reasons and there's one at every level, be it elementary school, middle school or high school.

However, school avoidance behavior is also seen among kids whose parents are divorcing or in whose family a death has recently occurred. (In fact, children and divorce coexist uneasily on many other fronts, as well). Other possible triggers are financial issues at home, a change of schools or learning difficulties. In other words, parents of such children should not automatically assume that the child is being lazy – there may be and often are deeper issues involved and that affect the overall student assessment.

Teachers will try to identify if learning difficulties or stress about homework are possible reasons. Teachers are quite familiar with the signs of school phobia and have their own modus operandi for tackling it. The first thing they might do is send the parents home, since their presence only makes things worse. This has to be done tactfully so as not to affect parent-teacher relations adversely. Nevertheless, the parent connection is still the most vital one in understanding and handling school phobia. Being a parent, you can help your child deal with home based issues best if they exist. A secure home front goes a long way in giving a child more comfort about going to school. If your child is displaying a chronic avoidance of school, it pays to consider how problems in the parents’ relationship with each other, excessive pampering or expectations or any other troubles at home may be contributing.

If you have a child with school phobia, try discussing the problem on your parent teacher meetings – these usually yield some high-grade advice for parents on such issues.

Harinder Saini



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