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Library talk to support parents coping with school refusal

Published: 12 July 2018

Library talk to support parents coping with school refusal

Tips and techniques to overcome the daily struggle of having your child refuse to go to school will be delivered at an education session at Logan Hyperdome Library this month.

City Lifestyle and Community Committee Chairperson, Councillor Steve Swenson, said the Coping with school refusal session would be held from 5.30pm on July 17 at Logan Hyperdome Library.

Cr Swenson said Emily Rotta from Transitional Support Services would explain how school refusal differed from truancy.

“Ms Rotta will be offering information on why it occurs and strategies on how to cope,” he said.

“This session will give hope to many families who are dealing with school refusal and are unsure how to deal with the issue.

“I encourage anyone needing advice and support to come along and listen to what Ms Rotta has to say as I’m sure they will find it invaluable.”

Bookings for the session are essential and can be made by contacting your local library or going online to

Ms Rotta said school avoidance and school refusal were terms used to describe a child or young person who did not want to attend school.

“School refusal is an emotional and behavioural problem as the child’s reaction and response usually involve a high level of stress and anxiety about regular school attendance,” she said.

“The child gets extremely upset and worried at the idea of going to school, or often misses some or all of the school day, and this distress doesn’t go away.

“Children who refuse to go to school often spend the day at home with their parents’ knowledge, even though their parents try hard to get them to go.

“School refusal differs from truancy in that parents are aware that their child is staying home from school over a prolonged period.

“In most cases, this is because the prospect of going to school causes the child or young person emotional distress.

“Truancy or wagging on the other hand is an anti-social behaviour where the young person skips school and the family and school are unaware.”

Ms Rotta said having your child stay home from school adds pressure on the parents in many ways, particularly with your employment obligations.

“You find yourself arriving late to work or not being able to get to work that day,” she said

“You are in that awkward position of requiring additional carer’s leave, as you battle each morning with your child to get them to go to school.

“Many parents try to work from home, and some even feel that they have to resign from their employment.

“It is very common for young people to feel overwhelmed and not want to attend school.

It starts off as one day here and there, then next it’s two or more days a week, several weeks a term and the days start adding up.

“It might start gradually, as parents find it harder and harder to get their child to go to school or refusal might happen suddenly, such as at the start of high school, a new term or after an illness.

“Contributing factors to school avoidance can include difficulty making friends or communicating with teachers, unidentified/unaddressed/perceived bullying, and transition to a new school or high school.

“It can also be sparked by a legitimate absence due to illness, traumatic life events, stressful events at home, family conflict, a parent returning to work, separation anxiety, a phobia or learning difficulties or social problems at school.”

Ms Rotta said often parents noticed their child’s distress and moods increase and change on particular days such as Sunday night as the ever looming Monday was around the corner, which means another expectation to go to school.

“Your child may have crying episodes, throw tantrums, refuse to get dressed, move or eat, show very high levels of anxiety or make threats to self-harm,” she said

“Your child will beg or plead not to go, complaining of aches, pains and illness which get better if you let them stay at home.

“Unfortunately, school refusal is a very distressing condition that is known to impact many children and young people.

“It is often noticeable in children as young as five-years-old.

“If left unaddressed, the problem can escalate and lead to long-term increased school absenteeism.

“Early identification and intervention is the key to the successful transition to regular attendance.”


Children have trouble going to school for one or more of the four main reasons:

1. To get away from general school-related situations that cause distress and avoid scary things such as tests, teachers, camp

2. To get away from school-related social/performance situations that cause distress or out of social situations with peers or teachers and avoid assessments involving presentations and orals

3. To get attention from significant others such as parents and avoid coping with separation anxiety and;

4. To get to do fun activities outside of school like play Xbox or sleep all day.