Most people had days as youngsters of wishing not to attend school because of an argument with a friend or an upcoming test. School Phobia, however, is a condition that becomes extremely powerful in a youngster's life and prevents them from being able to attend school. It is difficult for both the child and the parent. The child may be struggling with being "stuck" in that he/she is unable to find a way to feel comfortable with leaving home. The parents are also experiencing difficulty since their wanting to be empathetic and supportive while feeling a sense of urgency to have their child return to school. The combination of the child's feelings, the parent's responsibility and the concerns from the school may lead families to counseling to sort out the issues and plan an appropriate course of treatment for the child and/or family. James Foster & Associates' professional staff will meet with parents and the child to assess the issues and will develop a treatment plan. At times, It may be necessary to collaborate with the school in order to develop a supportive plan for the child.
-nausea & vomiting
-difficulty being outside of their home environment on their own.
-clinging to parents and trusted caregivers
It may first appear at a time that the child has to first separate from home to attend school. This may be kindergarten or first grade and may have appeared on one or several days of protesting, having to stay at school. The symptoms of stomach aches and headaches are common. School Phobia generally occurs a little later in the child's life, around the ages of twelve to fourteen and seems to coincide with the beginning of puberty.
School Phobia is usually based in the child's inability to separate from home, specifically from their mother. This difficulty in separation may be based on simply an overly close relationship with a parent, or it may be related to a parent being at a perceived risk of domestic violence, a mental condition, or substance abuse condition. On some level the child may believe that they can't survive without the parent and in certain cases it is discovered that the parent shares the belief that they also cannot survive without the child at home. In some cases, the school authority may also be supported by the child's history of being bullied within the school system. The School Phobic youngster may appear to be very normal and healthy in other areas of their life. That is, they may maintain friends, be good at sports, and may be able to achieve well academically when they do attend school.
The major thrust of any treatment is to return the child to normal functioning as quickly as possible as the phobic experience of the child is likely to develop increased strength over time. Frequently, the treatment of school phobia involves the child and the parents. The child's basic issues of concern about the parents or mother is easily explored and dealt with as directly as possible. As with the treatment of any other phobia, the child is also taught methods of calming and self soothing to assist them in overcoming any initial hurdles of returning to school.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us.