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What Issues Lie Beneath School Refusal

What Issues Lay Beneath School Refusal

Deeper mental health issues, anxiety and bullying can all be factors that result in school refusal. For young children, symptoms might be expressed as a tummy ache or their head hurting. For older children and teens, they are able, but often reluctant, to communicate with you why they want to stay home from school so often. No matter the symptom, it is important to understand the underlying issue and to address it with a proper treatment plan. 

Life Changes 

Major life changes such as moving, parents divorcing, or transitioning to middle or high school can trigger school refusal. While these types of events can add stress to a child or teen’s life, underlying worries such as something happening to a parent, academic pressure, or being bullied can be the reasons for school refusal. 

Mental Health Issues 

Taking a mental health day is something many stressed out teens do, but taking multiple mental health days in a row or frequently throughout the year may be a sign something deeper is going on. It is common that students who start avoiding school have undiagnosed mental health issues they are unaware of. Without access to a therapist, it can be difficult for them to have the tools to express what is keeping them from being able to stay in class with their peers. 

Mild cases of school refusal will include your child verbalizing they don’t want to go, calling home sick from the nurse or experiencing headaches. More severe cases will include refusing to go to school, physical symptoms like diarrhea & tantrums, and separation anxiety. 


Finally, we have bullying. Bullying may very well be the reason for school refusal. At Sage Day, we have a zero tolerance policy towards bullying, though it remains a pertinent issue in schools across the nation. At home, it’s important to keep an open line of communication with your child and make them feel safe and comfortable to talk to you. In the Sage Day school environment, we strive to create a safe, warm and nurturing community with positive messages, a low student-to-staff ratio and therapy woven throughout each day. 

As a therapeutic school in New Jersey, Sage Day has been a source of hope for students over the past 20 years providing academic and therapeutic support. 

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