Parent Coaching for School refusal

School refusal and school avoidance are behaviors that can emerge when adolescents and young adults are experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health struggles. Physical symptoms of anxiety may make it hard to get to school or make it feel necessary to leave early. This allows for the escape from distressing aspects of the school day, which provides immediate short-term relief. However, when a student continues to miss school, returning can feel harder and harder. Additionally, the child doesn’t get the chance to learn that it’s possible to handle school-related anxiety and cope with any challenges the school day brings.

How can a parent coach help a parent support their child who is in patterns of school refusal or avoidance?

First, it is important to note that a parent coach is not a mental health professional treating you or your child as a part of the coaching relationship, and therapeutic support should be pursued for severe symptoms. A parent coach can collaborate with members of your therapeutic team, so that they can help you best understand the triggers leading to the school refusal and proactively address these. With your coach, you will develop strategies that take into account reasons underlying school refusal to interrupt the patterns that may be leading to school refusal. Your coach explores with you, your expectations and boundaries and together you will create a structure that sets the family up for success and supports you child with managing the emotions that are leading to refusal and avoidance.

How can a parent coach help a parent manage their own emotions related to their childʻs school refusal?

A child refusing to go to school can have a major impact on a parent's life. These impacts can impede your ability to meet work or other family obligations which can lead to anxiety, frustration and anger. These emotions can cloud or further complicate your ability to respond to and best support your child. A parent coach will help you identify when this is happening and strategize regarding how to separate what you need to take care of yourself from how you need to respond to your child at a given time. Your coach will help you to identify your triggers so that you can hone your self awareness, own your reactions, pause, then learn, master and enact new responses.

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