Hands in a heart shape holding an infinity rainbox. Underneath the words Sandra Bell ND Coach
#38 School Can’t: What you can do as the parent

As outlined in Post #36 (here) I believe the fundamental driver of School Can’t is the young person not feeling psychologically and/or physically safe at school. They often feel misunderstood, unsupported and disliked, not only by other students but also at times by their teachers. Given none of that has to do with you or the home environment, what can we as parents/carers do when our kids are experiencing School Can’t? 

The top 5 things we as parents/carers can do are: 

#1 Believe Them and Believe in Them

It is important to believe what your young person is telling you about not being able to go to school. Believe that they know what they are and are not capable of in that moment. Just as important, and related, is to believe in them that you know they really do want to become a successful adult but the current situation isn’t right for them in some way. 

By your young person knowing that you believe them and believe in them you can help mitigate some of the damage being done at school, which leads into the next thing you can do – being their safe space. 

#2 Be Their Safe Space/Person – co-regulate, vent… 

Being their safe space/person, you allow your child to use your calm to co-regulate, as covered in Post #19 (here) this isn’t always easy but your child will know you are trying.

Allowing your young person to vent, without offering any advice or solutions, gives them an outlet for all that is going on at school that they are struggling with. I used to even write down what my child was saying and ask follow up questions – can you tell me more about… to help them get it all out. I didn’t offer advice or tell them it was OK, instead I just listened (and believed them). And that leads onto the next thing you can do – help them advocate/collaborate.

#3 Help Them Advocate / Collaborate

Like the chant of the disability community (and other marginalised communities) – “Nothing about us without us”. This idea should also apply to any strategies that are put in place in your home or at school. Your young person needs to be involved as a collaborator in solutions, along the lines of Collaborate & Proactive Solutions (CPS) which was developed by Dr Ross Greene.  Not only does it mean the solutions are more likely to be effective, it also gives your child agency and knowledge that they are being believed and valued.

#4 Know That Education Doesn’t Equal School

This idea was such a breakthrough for me and my mental health when we were in the thick of my oldest’s intense bout of School Can’t. There are many ways and places that your young person can receive an education. If mainstream or even any type of school doesn’t work out, it is important to understand that education doesn’t equal school. There are many options out there that can still provide an education from homeschooling, distance or online, TAFE, and short courses to name a few. And part of embracing this is using the idea of radical acceptance (Post #10 – here).

#5 Take Care of Yourself – self care, self compassion

And just as important as all the rest is taking care of yourself through whatever form of self care you can do, as well as being kind to yourself (Post #25 – here).

Thanks for reading, and if you would like more in-depth coverage of these and/or how they can be directly applied to your situation please feel free to reach out and set up some email coaching. My email is sandra@sandrabellndcoach.com.au

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Please note all information and strategies shared as part of the blog are for information and educational purposes only and do not constitute advice for any particular individual or circumstances.