Raise your hand if you have a child who struggles to get out the door for school in the morning and almost always has an excuse for why they need to stay at home instead? While we've all been there, and there are many different reasons for why children might do this, a new study has revealed that we might need to look a little bit closer to these issues.
The study, done by the University of Exeter and published in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, concludes that anxiety can be a huge factor for absences in school with children and young adults alike. This major breakthrough shows that there is a profound link here, especially when the absences are excused. And lastly, it is also demonstrating how much we are lacking in this area of study. There is truly a lot to be learned here.
This study was done through analyzing research that had already been done on the subject. However, out of 4,930 studies already done in the area, only 11 met the criteria which meant they could be included in this analysis. They were conducted in countries across North America, Europe and Asia.
The team doing the study broke the data down to four different categories: absenteeism (i.e. total absences); excused/medical absences; unexcused absences/truancy; and school refusal, which happens when the child struggles to attend school because of emotional distress, even if there is an awareness from parents and teachers.
Eight studies showed an association between truancy and anxiety and the expected link between anxiety and school refusal.
The lead author of the study, Katie Finning, shared how anxiety is truly a major issue to conquer now, as it can lead to worse academic, social and economic outcomes throughout life. "It's important that we pick up the warning signs and support our young people as early as possible. Our research has identified a gap of high-quality studies in this area, and we urgently need to address this gap so that we best understand how to give our young people the best start in life," she says.
Overall, anxiety can often be overlooked in children or written off, feeling like they might be too emotional or stressing the fact that school attendance is mandatory unless excused. It's important sometimes to stop and really look at the bigger picture to get clues as to what our kids might be feeling. School should be a welcoming place where kids are feeling welcome and if something there is causing anxiety or they are just experiencing anxiety in general, it's worth looking into.