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Is school refusal a result of the way they’re parented?

Parenting styles can significantly influence a child’s likelihood of experiencing school refusal. Different parenting styles can either contribute to a child’s sense of security, well-being, and motivation to attend school, or they can inadvertently exacerbate anxieties and increase the risk of school refusal. Here are some connections between parenting styles and school refusal:

Authoritative parenting is one of the most positive styles of parenting

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting, characterised by high levels of warmth, responsiveness, and clear expectations, is associated with lower levels of school refusal. Parents who are authoritative provide emotional support, maintain open lines of communication, and set reasonable boundaries. They encourage independence, but also provide guidance and structure. This parenting style promotes a sense of security and fosters a positive attitude towards school, reducing the likelihood of school refusal.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting is characterised by low levels of control and discipline, and may contribute to school refusal. When parents are overly lenient and fail to set clear expectations and boundaries, children may lack the structure and guidance necessary for school attendance. Without clear rules and consistent consequences, children may perceive school as optional or face difficulties in coping with academic demands or social interactions, leading to school refusal.

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting involves high levels of control, strict rules, and low warmth, and may increase the risk of school refusal. When parents are excessively controlling and enforce strict rules without considering their child’s autonomy and emotional well-being, it can create a hostile or fearful environment. This parenting style may lead to high levels of stress, anxiety, and rebellion, which can manifest as school refusal as a means of asserting control over their own lives.

Parenting styles can impact a child’s self identity and desire to attend school

Neglectful Parenting

Neglectful parenting includes low levels of responsiveness and involvement which can contribute to a child’s school refusal. When parents are emotionally distant, uninvolved, or neglectful, children may feel unsupported and overlooked. The lack of emotional connection and guidance may contribute to a child’s anxiety, low self-identity, and disengagement from school, increasing the likelihood of school refusal.

Supportive Parenting

Supportive parenting, characterised by high levels of warmth, emotional support, and involvement, is associated with reduced school refusal. Supportive parents create an environment where children feel safe, valued, and encouraged. They provide emotional support, actively engage in their child’s academic life, and foster positive communication. This parenting style promotes a positive school experience, enhances self-confidence, and reduces the likelihood of school refusal.

School provides important opportunities for children to build positive life practices

It is important to note that parenting styles are not the sole determinants of school refusal. Individual factors such as temperament, experiences outside the home, and underlying mental health conditions also play significant roles. However, adopting an authoritative or supportive parenting style, characterised by warmth, clear expectations, and open communication, is generally associated with a lower risk of school refusal.

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