5 Strategies for Dealing with Kids and Adolescents Who Refuse to Go to School (Not Yet Paid)

5 Strategies for Dealing with Kids and Adolescents Who Refuse to Go to School (Not Yet Paid)

Getting an education is important to thrive in today’s society. But the sad truth is, not every student will be fond of attending school. There may be different reasons for this, but nevertheless, finding out how to get your child to go back to school will require understanding, effort, and dedication.

1. Take the time to figure out why your child doesn’t want to attend school. – The first step in dealing with someone who refuses to go to school is finding out why. Most of the time, it’s not that school is boring but that there is something going on at school that makes them feel uneasy or unwanted.

Some potential reasons why you child may not be attending school may be because:

  • They’re getting bullied. (It does not have to be physical to be consider bullying.)
  • A teacher or administrator is treating them unfairly.
  • They don’t have friends or feel like an outcast.
  • School is hard for them.
  • They have a learning disability.
  • The way they are being taught isn’t appealing to them.
  • It’s difficult for them to grasp why getting an education is important.
  • They are suffering with substance abuse.
  • Mental illness may be holding them back.
  • There’s an upcoming threat, school event, or situation soon to occur on campus – good or bad.
  • The information they are learning in school is not cognitively-stimulating enough for them.

Sometimes asking your child directly won’t help. You may have to do some investigation. Ask your child’s teacher(s) or friends, check your child’s internet search history, and even check your child’s recent text messages. Grades, school attendance records, and even campus footage may also be necessary to piece things together.

2. Make learning easier and more enjoyable for them.  – If your child’s grades are slipping, this alone can be why they are no longer attending school. Maybe they are struggling to learn or find content boring. Maybe they are being taught content in ways that aren’t suitable for them. For some, dropping out is the better option because they see no hope in fixing things.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to help your child get involved in learning. Utilise interesting tactics, games, and even rewards if they practise, study, or finish work. Show them tricks to memorise things quicker. Use technology to keep them engaged. Purchase fun school supplies to help them associate excitement with learning.

If you fail to get them to go back to school by helping them learn, they may need a tutor. Otherwise, there may be another underlying reason your child refuses to attend school.

3. Explain to your child the importance of going to school. – While your child may be aware of why education overall is important, sometimes the underlying issue is that what they are learning isn’t resonating with them. Sometimes teachers will just teach without discussing why the content is critical. In turn, students may not understand the purpose or even how they will use it later in life.
This latter issue is common with maths. Students may think they will only need to know multiplication, division, subtraction, addition, fractions, and percentages in the ‘real world’.

That said, have a conversation about why education is important. Talk about how it can develop certain types of thinking, help practise many parts of the brain to keep them cognitively-sufficient, and even assist them in deciding what career path is meant for them.

4. Decide if an alternative form of schooling would be more suitable. – Is there something about the traditional school system that cognitively, mentally, emotionally, or physically is not suitable for your child? There’s no shame in that. There is a plethora of alternative school options from vocational, to online, to second-chance schools.

Just because a majority of students attend a public school does not mean your child will best learn in one. In fact, some students may find public schools too difficult, too easy, too structured, or even not structured enough. Discuss with your child and perhaps a professional to figure out relevant school alternatives.

5. Get your child professional psychiatric help. – If depression, anxiety, or other psychological problem is part of your child’s reasoning for not going to school, psychiatric help may be necessary. While there is often a school psychologist present on school campuses, they may not help or always be available. Plus, the fact that your child isn’t going to school means a school psychologist is out of reach.

Best of all, there are several treatment modalities available, from cognitive behavioural therapy to pet therapy, in case one strategy does not help. There is a workable plan for every struggling student out there. You can call Compass for more information about the strategies for getting children back into the rhythm of school.


Besides helping your child refusing to attend school, keep an open mind and give them tough love through the process. Forcing or even allowing children or adolescents to refuse education is equally harmful. But fortunately, there is professional help out there that can assist your child in gaining strength and motivation to go back to school.

Dennis Relojo is the founder of Psychreg and is also the Editor-in-Chief of Psychreg Journal of Psychology. Aside from PJP, he sits on the editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals, and is a Commissioning Editor for the International Society of Critical Health Psychology. A Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society, Dennis holds a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Hertfordshire. His research interest lies in the intersection of psychology and blogging. You can connect with him through Twitter @DennisRelojo and his website.


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