No matter how much we enjoy quirky movies about the misadventures of skipping school, it is far less funny when it’s your own child. How can you respond if your child skips school? What are some ways to respond that will be productive and informative for your child, instead of causing more issues? Here are some ways to handle it if your child skips school.
1. Get to the root of the problem
What is actually causing your child to skip school? Although many parents will assume it is just rebellion, especially in teenagers, it is possible there is something more to blame. Many children may struggle with anxiety, experiencing stomach issues or other physical symptoms when they are at school. If this is the case, talk to your child about stress management skills, and consider talking to your pediatrician about whether counseling or family therapy may be helpful.
2. Explain to them why going to school is important
Try to avoid the “because I said so” cliche! Especially as your child gets older, they may push back or find ways around rules they don’t understand. Explain why going to school is really important for their well-being and future. If possible, make it relevant to things they love or aspire to be. Does your child loves video games? Talk about how going to school could help them learn and become a developer one day! Do they love animals? Talk about how going to school can help them work toward becoming a veterinarian or trainer. Make sure they have an understanding of why going to school is so important, and why you care about whether or not they go. In addition, discuss consequences that may affect them and the whole family, such as fines or being held back.
3. Create a game plan moving forward
Don’t just expect that the school will handle this for you going forward, or that consequences at home will do the trick on their own. A multi-faceted approach is best when handling this kind of behavior, especially if it is repeated several times. Talk to your child about how to address issues they feel are making it hard for them to go to school, and brainstorm possible solutions. Consider contacting their teachers or school administrators to discuss ways you can support their learning and how you can work together to help your child succeed. Take the time to gather resources and support so you can handle this issue well, and in a way that helps your child excel in school.