Anxiety/ School Refusal Tips
- Identify triggers of anxiety/refusal.
- Ensure student attends school on a daily basis.
- Try to have a different adult bring the child to school if possible to see if that reduces anxiety/related emotions.
- Speak calmly but firmly to the child (i.e. “I’m sorry you feel that way, but you must go to school. I’ll be so happy to see you after school.”). Don’t argue with any of the complaints child is making.
- Create a transition plan from arrival at school to the classroom.
- Have your child self-monitor amount of time spent transitioning into school each day and the associated feelings.
- Brainstorm a list of personal worries and have your child prioritize them from the most to least troubling, eliminating duplicates and consolidating overlapping items.
- Establish a morning routine to help organize and prepare for the school day.
- Ask your child to visualize what a perfect day at school would look and feel like. Compare the perfect day with his/her actual experience and brainstorm ways to improve each school day.
- Identify alternative methods for your child to interpret and cope with each school situation that creates stress.
- Brainstorm a list of current and future benefits to attending school and negative results of limited attendance.
- Reinforce your child’s academic, family, and social successes by drawing, photographing, and/or displaying a completed project that triggers personal pride.
- Identify and record several self-talk statements that can be used during various situations to decrease worry.
- Identify how stress is manifested in physical symptoms.
- Teach relaxation techniques.
- Increase recognition of and encouragement of the student and reinforce his/her active attempts to attend school and build positive self-esteem (i.e. “I noticed that you _________.”).
Adapted from The School Counseling and School Social Work Treatment Planner by Sarah Edison Knapp and Arthur E. Jongsma, Jr.
- Have your child breathe in through their nose for 7 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and breathe out through their mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat.
- Have your child imagine a happy place such as: disney world or the beach.
- Have your child imagine that they are at a beach, with the waves, sun, birds, sand and clear skies. Then have them talk to themselves or out loud about their worries. After they have expressed their worry/worries, tell them to imagine a bubble in front of them, put the worry in the bubble, then imagine it blowing far far away in the sky. Repeat for each worry.
- Have them draw or color their favorite thing(s).
- Download the app on your phone or pull up the website on your laptop, calm.com. Have them pick their favorite scenery, listen to the background sounds and then play the verbal meditation for 2, 5, 7 or 10 minutes.