Is Your Child Skipping School?

Every parent dreads getting "the call" from the principal's office-and it's even more upsetting when you're told that your child skipped school, or hasn't been attending for some time.

If your child is skipping school-either playing sick or skipping out of classes-again, you first need to investigate and find out why. Is your child failing, being bullied, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or does he have physical problems? Some kids develop anxiety around going to school; they can have stomach aches or headaches as a result. Younger kids might cling to parents and cry. A lot of kids will say they're sick in order to avoid school because they have anxiety about it. If there's an anxiety issue at play, a visit to your child's pediatrician to determine whether counseling is in order might be your best course of action. A skilled counselor can gently get your child over the hump and teach them ways of coping with their nervousness around school. So the reason why your child is missing school chronically needs to be understood so it can be resolved. For example, if your child is being bullied, you will need to work with the school to make sure your child is protected and that it stops.

It's no secret that failing to attend school can lead your child or teen to become involved in risky behaviors, especially if he is not supervised consistently at home. If your child skips school chronically, you may have to involve community services and ask them to address the underlying reasons for school truancy. The juvenile justice system does not like the idea of kids skipping school and loitering around town, so there may be hope there. You might call up your local police department and say, "I can't get my child to go to school. Are there any resources available in this community to help me get him back on track?"

Understand that if your child is chronically skipping school, it's usually the result of a problem that has built up for quite some time. Often it's the end of a long string of problems, rather than the beginning. For this reason, I believe this is an issue that's important to nip in the bud at an early stage. So when your child's grades start dropping or he's coming home moody and sad, intervene then. Keep the communication open and always stay interested in what's happened to your child from day to day-it will pay off in the end, I promise you.

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