What should you do if your child doesn’t want to go to school?

Surely many parents are familiar with the situation when a child refuses to go to school and asks to stay home. Here are some tips to help you understand the reasons for this behavior.

Several years ago, I came to see a young woman whose daughter refused to go to school and read https://telegram-store.com/catalog/product-category/channels/childcare, throwing a real tantrum. The girl’s mother could not understand why the child acted this way – it seemed that her daughter loved her teacher, her school friends and she loved being in first grade. On family council after long debate, it was decided that since they could not cope with the problem independently, and the child still does not want to go to school, it is necessary to get advice from a qualified psychologist.

After a long conversation and careful questioning I found out that the girl had recently caught a cold and did not go to lessons. During her illness her mother paid more attention and care to the child than usual, and besides, the girl was allowed to watch TV as much as she wanted. When it was time to go back to school, my daughter started throwing tantrums – she realized that she would have more fun if she stayed home! Thus, my main task at the first stage was to find out the real reasons why the child did not want to go to school.

Trying to avoid school by any means – pretending to be sick, crying and clinging to you, refusing to take off her pajamas – is very typical for elementary school children. Often this is just a small step back in children’s natural desire for independence, but sometimes this behavior still causes serious concern to parents. Regardless of any possible causes, there are many ways to deal with the problem and achieve the cherished goal of getting your child back to school with gusto.  

Try to find out what your child is afraid of

From an adult’s point of view, going to kindergarten or junior high school is easy and fun. In reality, going to school is hard work for children! Following certain rules and learning new skills takes a lot of energy and effort from the child. And finally, the long-awaited winter vacations are coming, when the child can play for a long time, eat his favorite food and cuddle with his parents all morning. But even staying home because of illness, children will always find something more entertaining than lessons at school. Now you can see why your child prefers to stay home rather than go to school, where they will have to work hard.

Another fact to consider is that from the age of 5 years, children have a dramatic increase in anxiety due to the understanding that adults are not all-powerful. No matter how stable children’s lives are, they may always have fears about death, trauma, or parents leaving the family – especially if they see something scary in the news. At school, a child may worry that something bad will happen to their parents or to themselves, at which point they will not be together to protect each other from danger. As a rule, children at this age enjoy a new sense of independence, but they also fear it.

Keep home entertainment to a minimum

As we have found, sometimes children don’t want to go to school simply because they are better off at home. In other words, they want to stay home because they are bored at school! So when your child complains of a headache in the morning, find out if this is the case. If there is no fever, vomiting, or other serious symptoms, try to send your child to school after all. You can say, “Let’s just try. I can always come get you.” If you manage to get your child out the door, consider that half the battle has already been won. On those days when the sick child stays home, you should of course take care of him, but watching TV and eating sweets will have to be forbidden. When children will understand that during the illness they won’t be able to entertain themselves all day, they may want to go back to school sooner.

Handle the situation

Your child may be bothered by something specific, from a ride on the school bus to actual tyrants in class, but sometimes he’s unable to clearly explain or understand what problem he’d like to get rid of. If he says he doesn’t want to go to school because his stomach hurts, try to help him connect the dots by explaining, for example, “You know, my stomach hurts sometimes when I’m worried about being late, too. But if I find a way to solve the problem, my stomach usually stops hurting. What’s bothering you?” This way, you can get a better idea of what’s bothering your child: he may be worried about being mistreated in class; or he may be afraid that something scary (like what he saw on TV) will happen to him. If he can’t say what’s wrong, try talking to his teacher.    

Once the cause is clear, discuss the problem and how to fix it with the teacher (or school counselor), especially if the child is being bullied or intimidated in class. Sometimes a little more attention from the teacher to the child (e.g., reading or talking to the student if he comes to school early) can work wonders. Keeping an angel mascot or family photo in your child’s school pencil case or locker can also help.

Little 7 years old boy going to school with his mother

Eliminate more serious problems

If you consistently notice your child behaving unusually – going to school, being so upset that he won’t stop crying; or showing other signs of anxiety (like nightmares or fear of being alone), then you should ask your pediatrician to recommend a child anxiety psychologist. A friend of mine realized something was wrong with her daughter when she was in first grade. The girl had been anxious before, afraid to say or do something wrong, but still managed to cope with the problem, thanks to the help of the teacher. But when she started first grade, her anxiety became so strong that every time at breakfast she would purposely try to pour hot tea, hoping that she wouldn’t have to go to school because of her soiled and wet clothes. Now, after a year of sessions with a psychologist, the girl is making considerable progress and is making good progress at school.

Don’t forget that each new step is an important step in a child’s life, and often even a step back can be accompanied by a leap in development. Encourage your child and tell him, “You may be a little scared, but you can handle it!” Knowing that you are able to overcome challenges is probably one of the most important lessons a child learns in or out of school.