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School Refusal


HELP!! My daughter, aged 15, causes extreme stress on our family every morning. She refuses to get out of bed to go to school. I wake her at 6:00am, again at 6:15 and again at 6:30. She slowly wakes up, then begins to scream and cuss at me for waking him up. I tell her I am just waking her up to get ready for school …she continues to yell obscenities at me for waking her up. We are late to school almost every day. I am a complete nervous wreck by the time we leave the house. Today, she flat-out refused to go to school and stayed in the car sleeping. I finally just went to work and left her in the car. She awoke at noon and continued to verbally abuse me because she was hungry and was angry at me for waking her up. I just don't know what to do any more.



Hi T.,

Teens can behave in this manner for a variety of reasons. Your daughter may display a mood disorder …she may display what is called a conduct disorder (i.e., a serious personality disorder) …or she may have some learning disorder, now culminating in school refusal after years of struggling with school and developing a negative perception of school.

Whatever the reason(s) for the behavior, she is in need of help. One course to pursue is an evaluation by a mental health clinician, who can help you and him make sense of the situation and plan accordingly.

Another course, depending on where you live, is to approach the local court for assistance via what, in many jurisdictions, is called a Child In Need Of Services (CHINS) petition. This process is designed to address truancy by building in services and allowing the court to underscore the necessity to attend school and to support your authority in this regard.

Another course is to approach the school district and request an evaluation of the need for special services, in light of your daughter's response to school.

Whatever you do, put some of your energy into seeking help. Otherwise, you may likely go on battling with your daughter indefinitely, with no gain.


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