Sign: Missing School
"Jennifer started having stomach aches in the morning, especially on Mondays. There was no getting her out of bed. I'd try all kinds of bribery, cut off her Internet access, wouldn't even let her watch TV, but it continued. She genuinely seemed to not feel well, and I started to wonder what she was doing on the weekend that was making her feel so lousy on Monday mornings. I called a couple of the other parents, and most of them were pretty hostile when I asked if they thought the kids were drinking on the weekends. In fact, that is what was going on. It truly frightened me when Jenn came home clearly drunk. She is only 14 years old! She insists "all the kids do it" and that means I should lay off. I have refused to write notes on Monday morning, have made it like prison if she stays home, and I make her call me every 2 hours when she is at a friend's house. I have told her that if I suspect she has been drinking, she will not visit any friends for 2 weeks."
Avoiding school may be a sign of a variety of issues, from depression to school phobias. Talk to your teen to find out why they don't want to school - don't stop at the answer "I feel sick." A healthy child cannot be sick every Monday morning. If you suspect your child is hung over and this is why he or she does not want to go to school, you should be particularly concerned.
It is important to communicate with your child's teachers. They are often the first to notice changes in your child's attendance. You want to keep in touch so your teen is not able to do things such as forge excuse notices or doctor notes that allow them to leave school early without your knowledge. By keeping in touch with your child's teachers, they will feel comfortable calling you to question changes in your child's attendance. Never make a teacher feel "afraid" to challenge you child's behavior - you always want teachers to feel comfortable calling you to discuss their concerns. If you are combative or defensive about these calls, they may stop trying to help or even become adversarial. You want teachers to be your allies!