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Residential Treatment Center for Boys Ages 14-18

 > School Issues  > Why is My Son Refusing School?
teenager refuses to go to school

Why is My Son Refusing School?

It’s common at some point in every teen’s life to tell their parents they don’t want to go to school, but in some cases, teens can outright refuse to go to school for extended periods of time. If your teen son has been demonstrating school refusal, it’s important to discover the reasons behind this refusal and how you can help.

Why your teen is refusing to go to school and how to help

When your teen is refusing to go to school, the first and most important step is determining the why behind this action. Is this refusal a reaction to academic overload? Peer pressure? A mental health disorder? Bullying? In many cases, children refusing school will fall into one of four categories: Bullying, struggling academics, behavior, or anxiety.

Students who are getting bullied or those who generally struggle to get along with their peers are among the most common to demonstrate school refusal. Avoiding school can be one of the first signs that your child is being bullied, so be sure to investigate this possibility as your teen may be too embarrassed to directly tell you this is happening.

School also becomes a negative experience for teens who are either struggling academically or who are gifted academically. Struggling teens may have developed a sense of hopelessness that no matter how hard they try they are still going to be behind. Gifted students often become bored with school due to a lack of intellectual stimulation and challenge and therefore withdraw from the academic environment.

If your child has had behavioral issues in the past, it is possible he is avoiding school because he is resisting the structure of school. These students typically have problems with authority and following the rules, and instead of getting in trouble all the time at school, they avoid school as a different avenue of acting out.

Finally, your child could be struggling with a mental health issue like depression or anxiety that is preventing him from thriving in an academic environment. If your son has anxiety, he may be avoiding school to prevent anxious episodes surrounding testing, social situations, or student/teacher interactions. If he’s struggling with depression, school avoidance may just be one piece of a larger picture of avoiding activity and is a sign to seek out a mental health professional.

If your child is refusing to go to school, there are many interventions you can try to help him through this period. Avoid engaging in a power struggle that could cause both you and your son stress. Validate how he is feeling so he feels understood and heard, and then create a plan that addresses a direct solution for his avoidance. If trying to solve school avoidance on your own hasn’t had the desired effects, a program like Equinox could provide substantive change for your son.

Equinox can help

Equinox RTC is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for young men ages 14-18 struggling with trauma and addictive behaviors. We have a strong emphasis on family therapy, adventure therapy, and physical fitness, as well as cutting-edge academics, addiction therapy, and psychiatric services.


Academic progress and success are a major focus at Equinox. Many of our boys arrive at Equinox struggling in school, and sometimes those struggles are due to a lack of motivation, success, attention, or learning style challenges. We have designed our academic approach to meet young men where they are at and help them develop an individualized academic plan to restore their good academic standing. For more information on how Equinox can help, please call us today at (828) 414-2968.