Addressing teenager’s mental health - school refusal and anxiety at Athlone Care Clinic

What is School Refusal and Anxiety?

School can be a great source of support through friendships and community as well as learning, a time for our children to grow up and begin the journey to becoming the adults they want to be.

School is the perfect environment for children and teens to develop new experiences and encounter different opinions, achievement and relationships with peers and trusted adults alike.

Worry and anxiousness are completely normal feelings for any person starting a new journey. For teens, going to school every day presents its’ own set of challenges. These worries are usually short lived and diminish as our children become used to their new environment and the people in it. However, school refusal may present when our children are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the dynamics of school life.

Some common symptoms may include stomach pain, shacking, sickness and low mood. The most important thing to remember is these symptoms are very real and should always be taken seriously. The condition can also be known as Emotionally-based school avoidance or anxiety related absence.

Here are a few tips to help parents encourage their teens to go to school.

Ask your child what’s worrying them & validate their experiences

Brainstorm together what changes could be made to help them

Contact the school for support as early as you can

Share your coping strategies with your child. This will help them see they are not alone

Set a daily routine so they know what is happening ahead of each day

Encourage you teen to write in a worry journal. This will help them stop their thoughts from escalating

Consider rewards for attendance and explain the consequences for non attendance

Consider Counselling. Cognitive Behaviour therapy (CBT ) is one of the most effective therapies for working with anxiety and teens.

At the end of the day teens are young budding adults who are striving for independence in a challenging world with so much over stimuli. The more we can ground them and support them the more resilient they will become as adults.

Although school refusal and anxiety are scary topics for parents and sometime we tend to approach it from a disciplinarian perspective, it is important to remain calm and compassionate towards your teen as they begin to navigate the challenges and solutions.

Athlone Care Clinic specialise in teen mental health and neurodiverse challenges. The team at Athlone Care Clinic work closely with parents and schools to empower children to overcome anxiety and school refusal issues. They can help you and your teen get through this difficult time.

For more information on how Athlone Care Clinic can help, call 090 645 5302 or email [email protected].


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