September 13, 2010, 3:20 pm When Kids Make Excuses to Avoid School
By TARA PARKER-POPE
In today’s 18 and Under column, pediatrician Dr. Perri Klass writes about children who, for various reasons, try to avoid school.
The taxonomy of school refusal — from school phobia to truancy — is complicated, and it has changed over time. Experts now tend to break down the behaviors by motivation.
Children may avoid school because they are trying to avoid negative feelings, like anxiety and depression, or negative experiences, like exams or troubling social interactions. On the other hand, they may be pursuing some positive reward — a parent’s attention, the chance to play video games all day or, for older kids, more illicit pleasures.
And there is overlap, the experts point out: a child who misses a great deal of school for reasons that look like truancy may become increasingly anxious — and embarrassed — about going back. In fact, missing school intensifies both the academic pressures and the social pressures that are waiting when a child returns, setting up a dangerous cycle in which the more you’re absent, the more you want to stay out.
To learn more, read the full column, “When a Doctor’s Note for a Student Doesn’t Help
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