School refusal describes the disorder of a child who refuses to go to school on a regular basis or has problems staying in school.
Children with school refusal may complain of physical symptoms shortly before it is time to leave for school or repeatedly ask to visit the school nurse. If the child is allowed to stay home, the symptoms quickly disappear, only to reappear the next morning. In some cases a child may refuse to leave the house.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If your child has generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, he or she will worry excessively about a variety of things such as grades, family issues, relationships with peers, and performance in sports. Learn more about GAD.
Children with GAD tend to be very hard on themselves and strive for perfection. They may also seek constant approval or reassurance from others.
Your child’s anxiety disorder may affect success at school. If an anxiety disorder is causing your child to struggle at school academically or socially, the first step is to talk to the teacher, principal, or counselor about your concerns.
School personnel will likely recognize some symptoms or manifestations of your child’s anxiety at school, but they may not realize they are caused by an anxiety disorder, or how they can help. Use your child’s diagnosis to open lines of communication.
Anxiety is a normal part of childhood, and every child goes through phases. A phase is temporary and usually harmless. But children who suffer from an anxiety disorder experience fear, nervousness, and shyness, and they start to avoid places and activities.
Taking your child to a doctor for a mental health problem is as important as visiting a doctor for an ear infection or broken arm. Finding a health professional that you and your child can work with—and who makes you both feel comfortable—is critical.
Chief of Psychiatry, Harborview Medical Center
Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry
and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington at Harborview Medical Center
Director, Center for Healthcare Improvement for Addictions, Mental Illness and Medically Vulnerable Populations (CHAMMP)