What to do When Your Child Refuses to go to School

Your son or daughter refuses to go to school. What do you do? This video shares 3 ideas that you can try before reaching out for external support:

1. Well-Being

2. Relevance

3. Academic Achievement


Good morning! This is Jason Ursino from Learning Space, and I'm driving to school.

Today I'm going to be talking about the three things to think about when your child does not want to go to school and this one is a hard one. So these “three things” is the starting point to think about and then from there, you might want to go a bit further.

So the three things to think about when your child does not want to go to school.

The first thing is well-being.

If your child is not wanting to go to school, there is a good chance that they're unhappy there. So that could mean a variety of reasons; Bullying, it could be, they just don't like getting up in the morning, it could be all sorts of different reasons. So the idea here is to find the underlying truth. This means that you will probably have to sit down with your child and get the underlying truth out of them. Can be difficult. With girls, they tend to open up a little bit more, give them a nice hot chocolate or a donut, something that they'd enjoy. Sit down with them, enjoy it with them, and then sort of bring up the conversation and they might open up and tell you what the underlying truth is. Boys are a little bit more difficult, they don't tend to open up very much. What I have found with boys is it's a lot better to get something out of them when you're shoulder-to-shoulder with them rather than face-to-face. So maybe go on a drive with them or go for a walk with them and have a chat with them and say, “what's going on son?” you know, “I've noticed that you don't like going to school, is there something going on at school that's making you unhappy?” and then try and get the truth out of them. Once you know the truth, then you can work out the underlying issue, tackle it, sort it out and then there's a good chance that they'll be happy to go back to school from that.

The second thing would be relevance.

If they don't see any point in going to school, there's a good chance they wouldn’t want to go to school. So here, talk about goals, talk about what they want to do when they leave school. If they say a particular industry, for example, I want to get into hospitality or I want to get into construction. Then think about, talking about the levels in that industry. “Okay, you like hospitality, do you want to be a waiter or do you want to be a big manager, a general manager of a hotel?”, for example. Or, “okay, you like construction, do you want to be a laborer or do you want to be a builder”, and talk about the benefits of being in the higher level. Once you convince your son or daughter that being in higher levels is obviously the better way to go, and the idea is to try and achieve high, then you can then talk about how to get there. Most of the time, those higher-level jobs require tertiary study, like university. Then you can do a bit of research with your son or daughter and say, “okay, well, if you want to do this it looks like you need to get an 85% ATAR in Year 12. So that means you need to do well in these particular subjects. So you sort of need to do well at school”. Once they see the relevance, there's a good chance they'll start to perform a little bit better at school. They'll start to see that there is some sort of significance about going to school and learning and there's a good chance, from there that they would want to go to school. So that one's that one's a big one.

And finally, is academic achievement.

If they're not performing well academically, they're probably at the stage where they're giving up and they don't want to go to school, “because there's no point in going to school mum or dad, because I'm not doing well, I'm dumb or I'm stupid”. That's the sort of thing that they might say. If that's the case, I would say to get some support for the academic subjects. So get some tutoring, or find someone in the family or friend that knows that particular subject quite well, they can give some support. And what you'll find is if they get support in particular subjects, say in mathematics, for example, if they get some tutoring in maths, and they do well in it, that confidence will spill over into the other subjects so that will help them to get through school a little bit more. Once they start getting that confidence in the academics and they start to achieve and they start to see an improvement, you'll find that they'll be a lot more happy to go to school.

So they're the three things to think about when your child does not want to go to school.

The first one is well-being, the second one is relevance and finally, the third one is academic achievement.

Now in extreme cases, there is plenty of support in the schools, maybe ringing up the coordinator or a dean or someone that looks after a group of children that includes your child, talk to them about what's going on, and sometimes you can get some support at school. Some schools have counselors that can help with these sorts of things too and even more, you can then get outside support like life coaches or psychiatrists etc. to help you out with it. But the three things that I talked about would be your first point of call. See how you go with that before you're going to the extreme things.

If you like my videos, there are more of them at, and have a good day.

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