Understanding School Phobia (Phobia)

Okul Korkusu (Fobisi) Nedir

School phobia is defined as the reluctance of school-age children to attend school, refusing to go, and experiencing emotional difficulties related to going to school. School phobia is commonly observed in children starting preschool or entering primary school.

Children with School Phobia:

Children with school phobia tend to prefer staying at home and not going to school. When forced to go to school, they experience anxiety and may exhibit various physical reactions such as stomachaches and nausea due to this anxiety and stress. Additionally, children with school phobia may show behavioral problems on the days they go to school, such as crying fits or temper tantrums.

Underlying Causes of School Phobia:

The origin of school phobia is thought to be rooted in the attachment pattern between the mother and the baby. The mother’s ability to reduce the child’s fears, supporting a secure attachment between the mother and the child, enables the child to separate more easily from the mother when entering school age. In cases where the mother lacks the ability to reduce the child’s fears, school phobia may occur.

Separation anxiety may be at the core of school phobia, emerging in children between the ages of 2-7. This fear and anxiety are often linked to the mother’s actions and statements. Statements and behaviors that make the child feel missed and worried about when they are at school can lead to separation anxiety. If the mother doesn’t want to be separated from the child, the child may develop separation anxiety, not wanting to leave the safe home environment.

School phobia can also stem from fear or shyness about relationships with the social environment, as well as fears of failure, teacher anger, or various other reasons.

Factors Leading to School Phobia:

Various family-related factors can contribute to the development of school phobia, such as:

  • Overprotective parental attitudes,
  • The mother and/or father being anxious,
  • Family disputes, fights, and tensions between parents,
  • The arrival of a new sibling.

In some cases, there may be no problems in the child’s family life. However, certain situations at school can lead to the sudden onset of school phobia.

  • Change of country/city/school/teacher,
  • Disturbing or anxiety-inducing situations at school,
  • Problems in friendships,
  • Issues in the teacher-child relationship,
  • Exposure to sexual or physical abuse.

 

Understanding a Child with School Phobia:

It is essential for parents to understand and empathize with the child’s anxiety and fears. Children with school phobia should not be made to feel guilty, humiliated, or judged for their feelings. A careful observation is necessary to understand the source of the child’s school phobia. It is crucial to analyze whether school phobia is caused by familial reasons or school experiences. Seeking professional support to understand and address the child’s fears is important to prevent the problems from escalating.

Preventing School Phobia Requires a Positive Parental Attitude:

  • Parents should not project their anxieties about school onto their children and must make them feel safe and secure.
  • Being well-informed about school, meeting teachers, and staying in communication with them is crucial.
  • Children should feel that their parents trust them, the school, and their teachers.
  • Parents should maintain a calm attitude about all school-related matters.
  • Addressing and resolving family problems and creating a peaceful family environment is important.
  • When choosing a school for children with different developmental characteristics, developmental features should be taken into account.
  • Seeking the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist for unresolved issues in the child’s school life is essential.

References:

  • Sevimli, M. (2010) Evaluation of school phobia from the perspective of mothers. (Unpublished master’s thesis) Inonu University Institute of Educational Sciences, Department of Psychological and Guidance Sciences, Malatya.

 

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