My 14 yr old son won't go to school?

Colleen - posted on 12/18/2009 ( 26 moms have responded )

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My son has missed so much school this year and the last that now he is being put on probation (with the county) and risks possible placement in a boy's home. I don't know what to do or say to him to get through. We are going to go to counseling but our appointment isn't for almost 3 weeks away. Can anyone give me some advice on this issue. Its tearing my family apart. Help!

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Margaret - posted on 10/10/2012

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I am concerned about the number of replies that talk about this as if it is a BEHAVIOR issue. I assume that before posting this, you did all the normal things - checked to make sure it wasn't that he was being bullied, or that the schoolwork was too hard. . .and that you tried to both punish him for not going (another poster mentioned she took her 10-year-ols's TV and XBOX away, and put him on restriction where he couldn't;t go outside and play with his friends) and to reward him if he did (he gets a new fish tank in his room).



If discipline (punishment\reward) doesn't work - THEN IT ISN'T A BEHAVIOR PROBLEM. It is most likely a mental health issue. It's not that he Won't go to school; it is that he Can't.



Research "anxiety disorders", "School phobia" and "school avoidance syndrome". He may be having symptoms similar to a panic attack at the thought of going to school that are beyond his ability to control. A good therapist can help him with stress-reduction techniques; but if it is an anxiety disorder, he will also need medication. Anxiety disorders are neuro-chemical; that means the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain isn't quite right. No amount of discipline of will-power will correct that; only meds.

Kathryn - posted on 02/10/2010

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My suggestion, which will be quite unpopular, is that you should let him do his own thing, and then face the consequences of his bad behavior. It'll suck and it'll hurt, but the sooner he has to deal with someone calling the shots that isn't family, someone who doesn't care like family does, he might re-think his choices.

Elise - posted on 01/14/2014

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I cannot believe the lady who said if kid has anxiety the only way is meds. She has no idea what she is saying. I had anxiety and meds r band aids. I needed cognitive behaviour therapy to help me change y thinking. God gave us a good brain. We have to use it right and teach our kids the same. Don't believe everything on these blogs. Meds does not get to root of problem.

Gabby Jade - posted on 11/22/2012

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i would recommend homeschooling so he can be in an environment he is comfortable in, if u are working get a relative to do it. Your son is obviously uncomfortable in school in some way or another and he does not want to be there no longer ,so why force him? if u or a relative helps homeschooling than it would be free if u have money troubles and sometimes homeschooling is better and i think that you can learn much more than being at school with a teacher and in a room full of 30 odd people. I understand how he is feeling. And also he's 14! and in 2years it will be legal for him to leave school, and he can make his own choices.

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Michele - posted on 04/10/2013

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My daughter wouldn't wake up to go to school.I put her in cyber school so she could do school at her own pace. Now she is completely refusing to work on school.

Tracy - posted on 03/18/2013

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My son is 16 and wants to drop out of school. Last year out of nowhere he started cutting himself and had thoughts of suicide. He is in counselingaand on meds. He was hospitalized twice and things seemed better till recently. He is starting to fight to go to school and talking about suicide again. I don't know what to do I can't allow him to drop out of school. I'm thinking about having his doctors put him in a facility. I just want him to be happy and healthy. Any suggestions. Signed stressed mom

Marie - posted on 11/12/2012

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Listen I have a niece with an anxiety disorder and while some of her behaviors stem from this you can't totally excuse all of them from the anxiety or you are enabling her to always use her anxiety as an excuse. Not all anxiety disorders need medication but may be needed if counselor/ doctor think may help. It is upsetting that you say only meds will correct becuase counseling and relaxatioin techniques can be helpful and medication should only be used if needed not as first resort. The other concern is that the word behavior really means the way someone act wether good or bad so when describing the way someone acts behavior is a term that is fine to use.

I get your point but disagree with you as a whole

Jennifer - posted on 10/02/2011

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why is he not going to school? Is pulling him out and homeschooling him an option? if only to get the authorities off your/his back and give you both the rest of the school year to figure out what to do next.

Lisa - posted on 05/11/2011

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Hi i am new..my name is Lisa. I have a 10yrs old son who keep refuse walk in the school for abt 2yrs!!! Everyday during school time he complain tummyaches, toothaches, etc..i ignored him. when we were near to the gate or playground he clingy me like a 2yrs old! i persuade him go with his mates but refuse..every time i walk away he grab me like clingy too much and told him ok we go home then but he pulls me back to school and told him ok we go to school he keep say no no!! everytime i tell him ok we go home then so police will arrest me he say no no!! it alike groundhog day at during school in the morning..my hubby and i are getting stress out, fed up and tearing our hair out.. we tried to punished him like take his stuff out ie psp, tv, his fave toy etc and it didnt work either! also we ban him go outside playing bike or with friend he isnt happy but didnt work either. Last week i bought a small fish tank for his bedroom and told him if he proof to walk in everyday he will buy new fish in his room if he doesnt then the fish tank will belong to my daughter. it isnt successful this wk. Pls advise me how to solve the problem thank you

Sheila - posted on 02/21/2010

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I would have a hard time giving you any advice since I don't know why your 14yr old son doesn't go to school ????? Kids LOVE FOR LEARNING (therefore later LOVE FOR SCHOOL ) is a learned thing that starts before they can even walk. WE, as in parents are our children's FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT TEACHERS !!!!! Is he involved in any of the zillion extra things that are offered to our children over and beyound SCHOOL at his school........ie: Extra curricular. Sometimes just a love for a certain sport or music, club etc etc at school will make them WANT to GO !!! Good luck and

Tina - posted on 02/17/2010

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Hi Colleen I was just curious is there any chance he is being bullied this yr as well as last??? I know when my daughter went threw it she was always sick and wanting to stay home a headache a stomach ache a whatever ache and when she finally told me all that was going on and we went to the school and wrote a letter to the supervisor of our district and got in touch with the local police things got taken care of and this yr is so much better .. her grades suffered she became depressed and rude and seemed to just stop caring period and this yr she is doing awesome... Hope things work out for you and your family... If he is being bullied it may take a lot of prodding on your part to get him to tell you... the kids now seem to think if they say anything they are rats and they are worried about it becoming worse if they do tell.

Karen - posted on 02/15/2010

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See if there is a scared straight that you can take him to... Tough love is sometimes the only way to get their attention. I agree with everyone who said that you need to find the root cause of the ditching though.

Najwa - posted on 02/15/2010

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First of all you need to look into what is trigerring this behavior. There might be someone, or something bothering him in his school. Teenagers can be very secretive because they feel that you as a parent do not understand their feelings. He might not tell you about someone bullying him because he thinks your reaction to the matter might make things worse. He will not report such an occurence because he is afraid of what his peers might think of him. So, his fears are surrounding him from all sides. Keeping him at home, or homeschooling him will not do the job. He needs to face his fears, otherwise, he will never learn how to deal with other situations in his life.He will become very fragile and easily breakable! He needs to talk to a therapist about his fears, who should teach him to overcome them. Beig aggressive with him, yelling and shouting doesnt help either..it only brings more feelings of hostility, and the whole house will be in chois. He, might actually enjoy pushing your buttons, and seeing losing control. You need some patience, while in a firm way explain to him the consequences of any unwanted behavior. When he does skip school, make sure he gets deprived from tv, pull out the plug if he disobeys, confiscate his cell phone, etc..eventually, he will realize he was better of with going to school. Also, talk to him about his future, give him examples, and explain to him that he will be on his own one day, without your financial support. He might be lacking the motivation, and doesnt know what he wants to be as an adult...write to him a letter stating to him that he ows himself and you to work hard. Get the school more involved, have them issue a warning letter, and just keep talking to him about his chances of being out of school, or flunking the year etc...and as a last option, tell him you are seriously thinking of placing him in a boarding school, or a military school, if he doesnt come to his senses. For sure, do not give up on him, he needs your help. All this is easily said on paper, but you have to try all options...Good luck!

Cynthia - posted on 02/13/2010

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I feel your pain. My 14 year old has missed a lot of school this year also and we're still working on the solution. Jacob is on medication, so we're changing how he takes it, I'm going to try a "house" rule that bedtime is 9pm. Some suggestions that I received from a social worker is that you make a contract: if he chooses not to go to school he loses TV, video games, and has to do an extra chore of some sort. Write it out, the whole family signs it and put it on the fridge so that everybody can see it and know what's going on. Also, keep a calender for yourself of the times you wake him up to get him to school, if you're working with the state I was told that as long as I'm doing my part he's "old" enough to make the "right" decision. I don't believe that, but that's what I've been told. If I find something else that works I'll try to post. Good Luck & God Bless.

Jana - posted on 02/12/2010

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I would say the first thing to ask why he's been skipping so many days for two years. You can't provide a convincing reason for him to go back if you aren't listening to why he is choosing to go somewhere else - do you know where that is and why he's there instead? Those will probably be some of the topics your counselor will raise, as well.

Barbara - posted on 02/12/2010

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Have you considered homeschooling? Trying a new avenue for education may be what he needs. There are co-op groups that can help with the difficult classes (and gives some social time), as well as amazing curriculum programs of every kind, even internet classes. His social contact, can come from many different activities from music, Civil Air Patrol, karate classes, sports, to church, and what ever his interests are.

Donna - posted on 02/11/2010

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Before I allow my son to be taken away from me, I would officially "homeschool" him. Depending on what state you live in (assuming you live in the US) you can do this legally with registering with a "Cover School". Please see the Home School Legal Defense website here for tons of information: http://www.hslda.org/Default.asp?bhcp=1

If he doesn't want to go to school, it might be because he's afraid of something or someone there. Let's face it, the school house can be a very dangerous place these days. So, I would officially and personally withdraw him from that nasty public school system and pay a little money for a cover homeschool group (some are religiously affiliated, and some do not require a statement of faith.) Parenting is YOUR job, not the government's...YOU decide when he leaves your home, NOT someone else.

I wouldn't wait about withdrawing him. Just show him that you love him and make any sacrifices necessary. It's very hard to be that age, and he needs your love, understanding, and attention.

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im so sorry you are going threw this okay whats the prob with school has he said.Is he fully aware of what will happen if he refuses to go to you. a fine imprisonment. what does he like to do in his spare time does he have pocket money chores to do. would he be prepared to write his thoughts and feeling in a diary for his eyes only. right if he wants any thing from you you have to make him work at it do chores attend school some of the time these are not choices these are things he has to do.im affraid you have to treat him like a two year old again black and white no means no punishment for when he breaks the rules this is tuff love but he will respect you much better if you can do this sounds like his been able to push the guide lines out for a while and it is tiring bringing them back in but if you dont you may lose him one day and he may resent you for allowing him to do it kids like rules no matter what they say ive had to do it with my 13yrs and 16yrs boys and its exhausting but we are having a quite moment at the mo so thats good dont get angry,shout or show emotion because then he knows his got you i hope ive helped god bless

Laura - posted on 02/11/2010

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Has your son been tested for any learning disabilities such as dyslexia? If his behavior is acceptable outside of school he may not want to go because he is having trouble understanding what is being taught. The counselling is a must as well and family counselling may also help you as you and your son go through this. Good luck!

Tanya - posted on 02/09/2010

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Counselling and probation are the best avenues to go. He will get more supervision and the counselling will deal with his issues of why he doesn't want to go. Although it is hard to go through this it may straighten him out in the long run. Talk with his counsellor and see if they would also be willing to do family counselling as well this could strengthen the bond and trust with you letting him know you are only think of his best interest. Dont give up and continue to try to do what you can no matter how bad things get this is your child and he deserves every chance to succeed.

Shelley - posted on 12/19/2009

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I have had problems with my daughter and she was skipping school and running wild and partying alot. Unfortunately it depends on where you live but where I am there is no minimum age which basically lets kids decide what they want to do at a very young age and you cant force them to do anything. I went to counselling (she didnt want to go) which is one thing I would suggest they give you options on how to handle the situation. The one thing I have always said to my kids is that school is like work and if they are not in school or working and paying a little rent they can find another place to live because life is not a free ride because I have worked hard to get what I have.

You will have to get to know what the laws in your area are and unfortunately there are some children out there that chose to learn life lessons the hard way. I hope that this helped and I hope that you are able to get through to him but know that I have been told that they do get smarter and they change when they get older, the only problem is surviving the growing pains that they are going through and the situation that they put you in also!!!! The one thing you have to decide unfortunately is whether ( this is really hard to word and I am not trying to be hurtful) you should save him or save the rest of your family!?!

Susan - posted on 12/18/2009

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Has he got a counsellor? ask him what he wants to be when he finishes school?

Sit him down and with your help, ask him to write a list of his strenghts /weaknesses, apply that to what he wants to do when he finishes school. See how far off he is then, ask "how do we help sort this out so that you can achieve this". It may be that he may need to move schools. Maybe he could do with some home schooling short term to catch up. He may be embarassed that he has missed too much schooling. He may be dislecxic. (can't spell it, sorry).

Dont let him start to lay the law down. It's your house, he has to follow your rules, if he wants to stay there. This includes going to schoool or later getting a job. It may be that you need to give him some tough love. My Nephew has really gone off the rails and nothing has worked so far. So I hope it works for you. I really do.

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