I have been asked by one of my friends that his son 5 and half year’s old has gradually developed a reluctance to go to school. He refuses to go to school everyday. He throws tentrums, weeps and hesitates to leave home. Though, once at school he apprears to cope well. Kid’s mother has repeatdly asked the school teachers if the child is coming accross any difficulty/abuse at school and has been reassured on a couple of occasions that there is no such finding. Secondly the child doesn’t complain of experiencing any problem at scholl. My friend asked if it could be related to the death of his aunt (boy’s granny, who used to share the family’s house) who passed away suudenly in front of the child one and ahlf year ago (Jan 2011). the child observed the whole event as the lady underwent a cardiac arrest at home; there was no doctor available for a while and the doctor declared death straightaway on seeing the patient whilst the family including the child ere hoping that she may survive once seen by medics. The child was very much attached to this lady.
The scnario has two aspects. First the school refusal and second if that could be related to the death of a grandparent. I intend to answer one at a time. First let’s take school refusal only.
There is a wealth of information available on Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) website for public awareness and education and I am copying an excerpt about school refusal from one of the leaflets. We shall carry on our discussion further based on where you feel that your child falls, so that we can discuss about various possibilities based upon the facts.
Please note the information below
Refusal to go to school can be due to:
1- difficulties in separating from parents
2- being perfectionist, and becoming depressed because they can’t do as well as they would want to
3- disturbed family life, with early separation from or death of parent.
an established pattern which may have started at primary school. These children often have physical symptoms, such as headache or stomach-ache.
Those who go to school, but then play truant, are usually unhappy at home and frustrated at school. They prefer to spend their days with others who feel the same way.
4- Emotional problems will often affect school work – worrying about yourself or about what is going on at home makes it difficult to concentrate. Pressure to do well and to pass exams may come from parents or teachers, but adolescents usually want to do well and will push themselves. Excessive nagging can be counter-productive. Exams are important, but they should not be allowed to dominate life or to cause unhappiness.
5- Bullying can cause all of the above. Around 1 in 10 secondary school children is bullied at some point; about 1 in 20 is bullied every week. Short children are more likely to be bullied. If you are worried that this is happening, talk to the school to make sure that they enforce their bullying policy.
I wonder if you could identify which category your child fits in the best. Following that we shall carry on our discussion about further details. I shall await for your response.