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How to Respond When Your Child Wants to Drop Out of High School


My 15-year-old daughter refuses to attend school. I’ve taken her to a psychologist but she is uncooperative. She was always a good student, liked by her teachers and active in sports. That all changed when she started high school. I know changing schools can be challenging, especially for shy children, but I am at a loss as to how to help my daughter.



Your daughter's behaviors are unacceptable regardless of the reasons behind them. In many states, it is illegal to not provide your child with an education. If a youth misses school, the parent is contacted by the county attorney and a court hearing is scheduled.

Your daughter's status in life at this time is a full-time student. She should not be getting a message that she can "call the shots" in your family and can break the law without consequences. As a parent, you ​want her to grow up healthy, physically and emotionally, and to be happy in the world in which she lives. That’s not going to happen if she doesn't get back on track.

If she had a medical issue and refused to go in for treatment, would you allow that? If she is not willing to go to a counselor, perhaps you could have someone come to your home. Another suggestion is to make home a less fun place than school. Require her to get up and begin working on her studies at the same time school is in session. During a break, she should complete chores. There should be no TV, computer, video games or other fun activities.

Your goal must be to help her control herself and go back to school. Your attempt to schedule follow-up therapy is exactly what needs to occur to help her make that decision if she can't get there without help.