Your child does not want to go to school, no matter how much you encourage him to. If this describes more than an occasional morning at your house, you need to be asking yourself and your child one simple question: Why?
Why is your child so hesitant to go to school? What is it that he or she finds so traumatic about leaving home for the day?
There are numerous possible reasons for your child not wanting to go to school. Unfortunately, however, many of these reasons are troublesome — even serious — in nature and should be dealt with quickly and compassionately.
Why your child does not want to go to school
But let’s start with the ‘easy stuff’ — the things that lead to the occasional hesitance to go to school. These are relatively easy to deal with.
If your child wakes up complaining they don’t want to go to school when they are usually enthusiastic to do so, you may need to look for signs of illness. After all, there really is no place like home when you don’t feel well.
So check the basics: Does your child have a fever? Is her throat sore? Is he experiencing any body aches or pains? Does she have a stuffy nose and/or cough?
Of course, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t send your child to school if they are legitimately ill. A sick child cannot focus on the tasks at hand.
In fact, not feeling well can actually set a child back in their ability to comprehend functions and concepts. And besides, teachers don’t need to be dealing with your child when they are not feeling well — that’s not their job.
So if your child does not want to go to school because she isn’t feeling 100% OK, let her stay home.
Ask yourself these questions: Is your child getting enough rest? Is he getting a good night’s sleep?
The truth is, a tired child is a cranky child. Make it a priority to establish a positive bedtime routine that ensures 8 hours of sleep per night.
Looking at deeper reasons when your child does not want to go to school, think about this: Is your child afraid to go to school?
Usually, a child who formerly had no problem with going to school, but who begins to be resistant to the point of crying, isn’t doing so without reason. Your job is to find out what that reason is.
Are they being bullied? This is a tricky one. Many times a child will not admit they are being bullied because they feel weak or have been threatened by the bully to not tell anyone.
To find out if bullying is at the root of your child’s fear, ask indirect questions that will create opportunities for your child to share their experiences.
If you do find out that your child does not want to go to school because he is being bullied, let his teacher and principal know what is going on, and work side by side with them to make sure the bullying stops.
Your child’s fear of going to school may also stem from something that happened while she was there. This ‘something’ could be any of, but not limited to, the following incidents:
- another child getting hurt or experiencing a seizure or behavioural meltdown
- the school needing to be put on lockdown for safety’s sake
- a storm requiring them to take shelter
And so on. You need to help your child identify these experiences and deal with the fears associated with them.
Are you going crazy because your child does not want to go to school?
Sometimes, your child’s fear may come from his teacher. Let’s face it — some teachers just shouldn’t be in their position. I know this to be true because unfortunately two of my children were put in classrooms with some ‘terrible’ teachers.
If your child develops a fear of their teacher, once again, you need to be discreet in your detective work. Make general conversations about the teacher and then take your lead from your child’s response.
Putting the words ‘anxiety’ and ‘children’ in the same sentence just shouldn’t have to happen. But unfortunately, it does — the stress levels in some children’s lives actually bring them to the point of being emotionally affected.
When this happens, a child may feel that home is the only place safe to be. Leaving home is too frightening for them — they feel that if they do so, a home might not be there when they get back.
Situations that can give birth to anxiety in a child include divorce, the death of a parent, the military deployment of a parent, a natural disaster, an automobile accident or any other traumatic event.
In cases like these, time, patience, reassurance and encouraging your child to share their feelings will help. If the situation is very serious, professional counselling may be necessary.
One factor you may not have considered is this: Children who are bored because they aren’t being challenged at school may put up a fuss when it’s time to go to school.
We all like to think our child is the next Einstein, but if your child’s teacher confirms that your child is exceeding expectations, check into the possibility of higher placement or excellent learner’s classes. These classes are more challenging and move at a faster pace to keep the child’s attention.
On the flip side, children who are having difficulty hearing, seeing or focusing mentally will often become unhappy about going to school. They know something isn’t right, but they don’t know what to do about it.
Children who fall into this ‘category’ need to be attended to immediately. If your child has trouble paying attention or cries and pleads with you about not going to school, you might want to have him professionally evaluated.
If you don’t address these issues right away, you run the risk of having a child who sees school as their enemy — which may lead them to want to drop out as soon as possible.
6. The 3 C’s
If your child does not want to go to school, try to be the 3 C’s: Calm. Cool. Collected.
Once you have pinpointed a cause for their reluctance to go to school, take the necessary steps to rectify the situation. Once you have done so, your child will likely come around.
In the meantime, being the three ‘C’s will go a long way in helping you put your child at ease, and in helping you deal with whatever he is going through.
Also read: Tips on future-proofing your child