Last year I received a call from a mother of a 15 year old daughter who hadn’t gone to school for 3 ½ years. Interestingly enough, the daughter couldn’t say why she wouldn’t get out of her mother’s car while being dropped off at the beginning of the school day. All she did know was that she felt terrible anxiety knowing that she just couldn’t go through with the normal school day.
This young woman is articulate, attractive and was involved in soccer. That was until she couldn’t get herself to enter the school building. She had many friends and she really didn’t have an issue with the school work per se. She really had no idea why it was impossible for her to go to school like “normal” kids. She had a tutor who came to her home to teach her the necessary material as well as being forced by the school system to see a psychologist. The only problem was that as time wore on the therapy she was receiving was making her more irritable unable to break through to find out what was at the cause of her inability to attend school.
There are many kids out there that will not attend school and there are several reasons why they are demonstrating this behavior. Here are some of the reasons for this behavior for you to better understand what may be going on with your child.
1. A parent being ill (school refusal can begin even after the parent recovers).
2. Parents separating, having marital problems with frequent arguments.
3. A death of someone close to the child.
4. Moving to a different area during the first years of elementary school
5. Jealousy of a new sibling.
6. Parents being overly concerned with the child for some reason, for
example, poor health.
7. Bullying by another kid at school.
Signs to look for if the child is being bullied:
- Unexplained nightmares.
- Lost of damaged clothes, books, or other possessions.
- Lost of interest in school work resulting in lower grades.
- Will complain of aches and pains, feeling sick.
- Will skip meals or binge eat – maybe indicating lunch isn’t being eaten at school.
- Nightmares or trouble sleeping.
- Sudden loss of friends or uninterested in social engagement.
- Decline in self-esteem demonstrated sometimes in feeling helpless.
- Begins self-destructive behaviors such as: running away, hurting self or threatenin suicide.
The effects of being bullied for the victim include:
- Increased risk of depression
- Increased risk of anxiety
- Drop in grades and academic achievement
- May retaliate against others.
- Doesn’t have any friends.
My client came to see me because she realized that she was unable to get to the bottom of her problem even with the help of the psychologist. She was smart enough to come up with the idea on her own, that the cause of her not being able to step inside the school building was stuck inside her unconscious mind. So, she asked her mother to help find her a hypnotist to help her to free herself of this problem so she could get back to school and her beloved soccer.
At the first session I asked my young client if she would like her mother to stay or leave. She answered that she wanted her mother to stay. Then I asked her if she would like her mother to go into trance with her or if she should stay in her normal waking state. My client thought it would be more helpful for her mother to go into trance with her. I had already asked her mother if this was okay, she agreeing to do whatever her daughter felt she needed to heal this school anxiety.
So, I put them both into trance and a miraculous thing happened during that first session. My client’s father had gotten ill with a brain tumor which was cancerous when my client was only 4 years old. She had given much joy to her father despite all the tubes and medical apparatus which “spooked” some of the rest of the family who were a bit older, better understanding what this equipment meant. Her mother helped her to understand what had happened way back then, as she told her daughter many stories of how her presence lighted up her father with her unconditional love while bringing out the best in him. My client sat in the trance chair crying as she was told all these really special attributes of her much younger self, things that she had zero memory of and yet, it was obvious that this was source of her problem. It was an interesting case in that the father passed away when my client was 6 years old, yet she only stopped going to school when she was 13 years old. It seems that when she was 13 years old there were some friends of hers who treated her rather poorly, which bothered the mother more than the daughter, at least from their individual reportage of the events. The daughter had enough self-esteem to no longer let these friends in too close, as a protection for herself, though she wasn’t ready to cut them off because she did enjoy many of the activities that they did together. Though, it was also at this same time that she stopped going to school. The loss of the trust in these friends seemed to reinvigerate the loss of her father, on the unconscious level.
So, if your child is giving you a hard time about going to school, there may be a very good reason for it. If your child really doesn’t have any idea what the issue may be, please do as my client’s mother did, and allow your child the leeway needed to feel supported and loved as you go about resolving the deeper issues that may be involved. If conscious talk therapy isn’t working, realize that in one session my client cleared herself of her problem. By the second session, she had come up with her very one creative treatment plan of going to one class the first day, two classes the second day and three classes the third day, until she had gone to a whole day’s worth of school. After that she was going to continue attending school normally. She did indeed set this plan into action however, by the third day she didn’t continue, though a few days later she was back on track. She finished out the year going to school daily and getting involved with her soccer once again. She ended the year with very good grades no longer being full of anxiety about going to school.
The unconscious mind’s most important purpose is to protect our conscious mind from the content that our conscious mind is unable to handle. It is for this reason that when a thought or behavior continues to go on, without the ability of the person to stop it, the person is given the indicator that this is perhaps “unconscious” material that needs to be unearthed before the thoughts and behaviors can be changed to more constructive use for the individual.
My young client was so sick of her problem running her life that she thought “outside the box” desiring to get the help she needed to move on with her life. She is doing great now, a reminder of what can be altered for the better in a very short period of time sometimes, so long as the cause is understood allowing the client to move on to a more fun and productive life.
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