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What is School Phobia? How Is It Treated ?

 School Refusal is defined as the child's refusal to go to school for various reasons. Anxiety often lies behind not wanting to go to school. Other causes can be listed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, developmental delays, learning disorders, problems in school, course failures, and financial inadequacies. In cases that we count as other reasons, it creates anxiety and unhappiness in the child and causes school refusal.

 School Phobia

School refusal can appear in any child starting kindergarten, kindergarten or primary school. Although it usually appears at the beginning, it can also occur in later years. Social anxiety disorder (Social Phobia) or separation anxiety disorder usually lies under the anxiety that causes school refusal to occur. These two cases often coexist.

Social anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder are often inherited, and this condition is actually present from the birth of the child. In these two cases, it often does not attract the attention of families without a stressful or initiating cause. After the age of 1, families generally begin to describe these children as fond of us, fond of parents, shy and shy. Families who send their children to kindergarten realize the situation earlier when the stressor cause (starting daycare) emerges.

Children with social anxiety disorder are noticed when they encounter unfamiliar environments or people. Because they are reserved and shy, they usually do not cause problems. School, on the other hand, is considered a very dangerous environment in the eyes of children with social anxiety disorder, as it consists of many unfamiliar children and environments. The more severe the social anxiety disorder is, the more it does not want to go and the longer it takes to get used to school.

Children with social anxiety disorder often also have separation anxiety disorder. Children with separation anxiety disorder stay away from people and environments that they do not know, do not trust, spend time with, and perceive danger, while they become overly attached to people they trust (mother, father, caregiver..). Because of the anxiety in both social anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder, children may perceive the school they started for the first time as an object of anxiety and insist on not going. The greater the severity of the anxiety, the greater the school refusal.

Another important cause of school refusal is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder do not like disciplined and regulated environments such as school because they get bored quickly, are overactive, hasty and impatient. At the same time, they do not want to go to school when they start to have problems in lessons. Since the lack of self-confidence seems to be high in children with attention deficit, children who are overactive cause problems in going to school because they do not like rules and disciplined environments. Some of them start school and do not want to go to school as time progresses.

Learning Disorders and developmental delays cause school refusal because they negatively affect children's self-confidence. In Oppositional Defiant Disorder, on the other hand, children do not want to go to school because they are completely stubborn with the family. Most of the time, families try to take their children to school with various prizes in this situation. The reward system may become inadequate after a while and the child does not want to go to school again. Problems experienced at school before may cause trauma or adaptation problems in children and cause them to develop resistance to going to school.

So what should families do in this situation?

In general, families evaluate anxiety as stubbornness and try to be stubborn or take it by force. One of the most common mistakes is not being aware of the child's anxiety. Another important point is the cause of anxiety. As we mentioned above, if anxiety is present from birth, this anxiety is inherited. If it is a later anxiety, it is an anxiety caused by environmental reasons and it is necessary to find the reason. To give an example of environmental reasons: it can be something as simple as a relative's intimidation about school. Sometimes, there may be an environmental reason why we parents tell children what school is from the child's point of view. In some cases, even the children themselves may not understand why anxiety occurs.

  • It is necessary to explain what the school is, what it is for, what is done at school in a simple language that the child can understand.
  • If our child has anxiety, it is necessary to comfort him. This should not mean doing everything you say, because sometimes children notice their parents' concerns and use their parents.
  • It is necessary to speak in a clear, simple, comfortable language that the child can understand.
  • Whichever parent is more comfortable communicating with the child and is less anxious would be better off leaving it to school.
  • Parents need to control their own anxiety about school. Even though children are comfortable most of the time, families can be more anxious than children. If parents are not comfortable, they may need help with this.
  • It is necessary to comfort the child by telling who will pick it up after school is over. Children because they may think that they will be dropped off at school and never picked up again.
  • In case of anxiety, exercises should be done gradually. Dropping off from school and crying often doesn't work.
  • If it is difficult to control their anxiety, the child and family may need help in this regard.

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