This is How a Kid with School Refusal Feels

We know that school avoidance is often misunderstood. Our friends and schools may question our parenting skills. They may share simplistic and insensitive advice. They usually mean well, but sometimes it hurts.

There aren’t many first-hand accounts of how kids suffering from school avoidance feel. And often, children/teens don’t even understand the basis of their fear and anxiety themselves.

It is also well-known that kids often behave differently from when they are in school and at home. They will often work extremely hard to conceal their inner pain and anxieties in front of their peers and teachers. And when they get home, that is where they feel safe to unload and reveal their true feelings. 

Since our kids’ voices are not often heard, it is the parent, mental health provider, and school who will try to determine how our kids feel.

So, when my friend shared this animation of how a kid with school refusal feels, I was overjoyed. It is a brilliant animation from researchers at the University of Ghent, Hogent College in Belgium.

Finally, a simple and accurate representation of what goes on the head of a child with school avoidance. It also illustrates the importance of having the school, parents, and therapists working together as a team advocating for your child. 

Tissue alert: I had tears in my eyes the first time I watched this video. The child articulates what my son must have felt and that hit home!

It is a one-of-a-kind, powerful and helpful tool that I encourage you to share with friends, family, your school, and possibly your mental health provider.

Thank you to Fran Morgan at TeamSquarePeg.org for sharing this amazing resource from Hogent’s research team who put this together.



Picture of Jayne Demsky

Jayne Demsky



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Unfortunately only a small percentage of school professionals, therapists, educational advocates and policy makers understand school avoidance best practices. So, you must become the expert to ensure your child is getting:

  • Appropriate mental health treatment
  • School assistance without punitive responses (truancy, failing, grade retention)
  • Educated regardless of their school avoidance
  • A 504 plan or IEP if needed (many school avoidant kids qualify)

The time passing slowly without progress is the worst feeling. It wouldn’t have taken five years of suffering and uncertainty if I had this expert guidance during my son’s school avoidance. We would have saved $29,000 in lawyer fees and $69,000 for private schools.

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