Having a kid that puts up a fuss about going to school is nothing new for parents. However, the hard reality teens must face is that going to school is compulsory in our country. Still, some teens simply do not want to abide by the attendance laws and may refuse to go to school. If you are a parent lamenting that your teen is skipping school all the time, you are probably very frustrated.
About Teen Truancy
The teen years, nestled between childhood and adulthood, are a time when kids begin to test boundaries. They are becoming more independent and autonomous, which is the normal process of becoming an adult.
Sometimes, though, they want to move too fast into adulthood and may decide to stop going to school. Even with strict school policies around truancy, the teen may continue to skip school. Skipping school can lead to all sorts of negative consequences. These include:
- Failing grades, then limit the teen’s options for their future.
- Falling into a bad crowd.
- Dropping out of school.
- Starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
- Getting into legal trouble due to chronic truancy.
If your teen is skipping school on a regular basis, do not hesitate to involve the school administrators and counselors. The sooner this problem is dealt with, the less damage is done.
Why is My Teen Skipping School?
For parents, the most challenging aspect of a teen skipping school is trying to understand why they resist going to school. To the parent, it may appear to be simple defiance. However, when chatting with the teen about it, you may be surprised to learn why they are not attending school. Consider these possible reasons:
- Being bullied. Being the object of bullying is the number one reason why teens avoid going to school.
- The threat of violence. There may be gang activity in some regions. This may be occurring before or after school, or there may be a threat of violence during the school day.
- Fear of school shootings. With so many televised reports of school shootings in recent years, some teens have anxiety about being in a school setting.
- Social anxiety. The teen may be struggling with a mental health challenge like social anxiety. Social anxiety is the fear of being ridiculed or embarrassed among peers.
- Academic challenges. The teen be have fallen way behind in school, or has a learning challenge that has made school very frustrating.
- Depression. A teen that is struggling with depression is not going to have the energy or motivation to go to school.
- Social struggles. Some teens have difficulty making friends or forming meaningful connections, or they might be in conflict with someone at school.
- Substance abuse. A teen that is using drugs or alcohol is likely to avoid school due to feeling hung over or sick in the morning. If they have an addiction, they will prioritize the substance use rather than go to school.
Warning Signs that Teens are Skipping School
In earlier years, a parent may not have been aware their teen was skipping school. But with today’s technology, schools are getting much better at notifying parents when a child is absent from school. When a parent is notified of truancies, they may look back and wonder if they’d missed some warning signs.
Warning signs of truancy or mental health issues may include:
- Avoids social events; isolates from friends and family.
- Engages in self-harming behaviors.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Sleep disturbances.
- They have become openly rebellious.
- They have a negative attitude about everything.
- They begin to neglect their personal appearance.
- There are changes in appetite with sudden weight gain or loss.
- There is a loss of interest in the activities they used to enjoy.
- They engage in illegal activities.
- They have very low self-esteem.
- They express that they feel worthless or hopeless.
- They express irrational fear.
- They exhibit mood swings.
- They have angry or violent outbursts.
- Their grades plummet.
- They are engaging in substance abuse.
Mental Health Issues that Contribute to Teen Truancy
If your teen refuses to attend school and is lying around all day, maybe it’s their mental health. There are high rates of depression and anxiety among teens today. Maybe it is time to have them meet with a mental health expert to rule out a mental health disorder.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad or hopeless most of the time.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Changes in eating habits result in sudden weight gain or loss.
- Fatigued, listless.
- Loss of interest in usual hobbies or activities.
- Irritable; has angry outbursts
- Withdraws from friends and family.
- Low self-esteem.
- Sensitive to peer rejection or being criticized.
- Trouble paying attention in school.
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches.
- Talks about death, suicidal thoughts.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Irrational fear that is out of proportion to the trigger.
- Trembling or shaking.
- Constant sense of dread.
- Muscle tension.
- Excessive sweating.
- Dry mouth.
- Blushing easily.
- Irritability, agitation.
- Shortness of breath.
- Brain fog.
- Self-harming behaviors.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Sense of panic.
- Stomach pain, nausea, or diarrhea.
- Very self-conscious.
What Can Parents do when their Teen is Skipping School?
When your teen is skipping school on a regular basis, parents are faced with some decisions to make. The parent has authority over the teen, and must act in his or her best interests. Some solutions include:
- Access school resources. Districts offer various resources to assist students who are not attending school. A school counselor can help them sort out what is troubling them and offer some guidance. Also, the school may set up an IEP study program for the teen to home school for a period.
- See a mental health professional. It may turn out your teen is dealing with a mental health challenge. Mental health resources for teens include either outpatient or residential treatment programs. These treatment programs provide more intensive therapies than a local therapy session would offer.
If your teenager is skipping school often, it is time to intervene. Reach out for help today.
BNI Treatment Centers Mental Health Treatment for Teens
BNI Treatment Centers is a trusted source of mental health support for teens. Offering both outpatient and residential treatment, BNI Treatment Centers can provide the targeted help your teen needs to get back on track. Reach out to us today at (888) 522-1504.