Kids Refusing to Go to School

All parents have experienced this at one time or another—where a child just refuses to go to school without really explaining the reasons. Here, Dr. Nakita O’Leary, Clinical Psychologist offers solutions.

Protect some time to talk: Children often express their reluctance go to school in the morning. This time of day is busy for most families and might not be the best time to have a conversation about it. Spend time together doing something she enjoys. Thiswill allow her to relax and feel comfortable talking to you.

Connect: Your child may be nervous to tell you about what is bothering them at school. Children often worry that their parents will not believe them or take their problems seriously. They alsoworry about whether what they have to say will get them into trouble. Towards the end of your fun evening together, sit down with your daughter and address the issue.

Make suggestions: When children find it difficult to talk about something, it can be easier for them to simply shake or nod their head in response to suggestions. If she says no to everything you suggest, believe her, it may be something else. In which case you could ask her to write the problem down or draw it for you.

Action plan together: Once you know what the problem is, decide together how you will solve it. Often children do not tell their parents about challenges at school as parents’ actions, while appearing to deal with the problem, can make things worse for the child amongst their peers. Set aside another time to sit down together and list all of the possible solutions to the problem, include unrealistic or make-believe solutions, to make the task more fun and engaging for her. Then together decide on the most realistic, effectiveand comfortable course of action for you both. This is likely to include talking to the school. Be honest about this with her.

Debrief: After you have addressed the problem together, debrief with your daughter about whether it helped or not. If it has not helped, you can try another solution from your list of possibilities. If it did help, you can reinforce how good it was that she shared the problem with you, as that allowed you to overcome it together.