School attendance problems

School refusal is reluctance to attend school, due either to fear of teachers or other children (school phobia), or fear of leaving the mother (separation anxiety). The mother often covertly encourages it because she herself is depressed or immature, and reluctant to be separated from the child. The child may complain of headache or abdominal pain on school mornings. Treatment includes psychotherapy for the child and mother, dealing with any contributory factors at school, and encouragement to attend.

School refusal should be distinguished from truanting, which is staying away from school to do something more enjoyable, and is classed as a conduct disorder.

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