Help with unhappiness linked to school
You're not alone. Half the parents who contact me are trying to cope with school refusal or school-related depression and anxiety.
Among the particular issues they bring me are
- Panic attacks and the fear of losing control in public.
- Agoraphobia - a fear of public places or 'situations where escape could be difficult' (NHS)
- Bullying (see Beating the Bullies) and social exclusion. The world can be a lonely place
- School phobia, due to conditions at school or a fear of being cut off from home and family
- Depression, causing persistent gloom and low motivation. It occurs most often when people have little control of their lives
Above and below: How do we save this little girl from teenage despair?
- Anxiety about meeting the social and work demands of school. This is always high when tests and examinations are looming. Nervous, pressured teachers can't help infecting their pupils!
If your youngster’s anxiety is becoming excessive you need to act decisively
Here are some of the things you can do:
- Try to ensure that your youngster feels heard by someone they trust
- Make sure they feel heeded, with a really big say in how to move forwards. For a start, perhaps you could work as partners in weighing up the advice on this page
- Make sure they feel upheld as individuals, with plenty of scope to succeed or fail in things that matter
- Try to maintain routines such as school attendance. Keep the school informed if attendance is patchy so they don't treat unavoidable absence as casual 'skiving'
- Consider the option of home education, which could bring some relief and open up a space for healing. To begin home ed just ask for your child to come off the school roll. Then, provided you do home educate, you answer to no one.
- Follow NHS guidance about exercise: it help to combat depression and anxiety. (Some parents give too many lifts!)
- Consider having a word with your doctor, who can arrange professional counselling on the NHS (but expect a long wait).
- Because of my own unhappy childhood (it's me in the school photo!) I offer free educational advice for youngsters with depression and anxiety.
When families visit us my wife's ponies are often the biggest attraction!
Thanks to Bethany Whitaker for the 'lonely boy' photo near the start of this page