What to do when your kids don’t want to go to school…

There are many “firsts” in a child’s life, but the first day of school is possibly one of the most significant. The idea of being away from mom and dad for hours at a time can be scary for your child, however this is normal after spending the first few years of their life at your side. But what do you do if they’re enjoying school and one day the words “I don’t want to go” come out of their mouths. These four little words can turn into much more if not addressed immediately.

Know Your Child

No one knows your child better than you do! Don’t panic when they don’t want to go to school, take a second to determine what’s wrong before demanding they have to go to school. If you’ve noticed they’ve been off the past few days, play detective. If their eyes look watery or they’re paler than normal, they could be getting sick and just need a day at home to battle their cold. In contrast, if they’ve been off school for a few days from an illness, they might have realized how fun it is to stay home and don’t want to go back. If that isn’t the case, ask them if anything (or anyone) has been bothering them at school. A big test that day or a problem with a friend at school may also be the cause of your kiddo’s woes.

Kind, but Firm Approach

Be encouraging and don’t let the morning turn more negative. Odds are something is already bothering them, and showing them you’re upset will only make it worse. Do not raise your voice, but remain calm and encouraging. “My husband is very good at selling the fun in whatever we are doing,” said Kasey Windels, advertising professor at the University of Florida and mom to her son Luke. “We talk about the positive aspects of what we are doing and talk in an excited tone.” Being on your child’s side to figure out what is best for them will be more beneficial than dragging them kicking and screaming into their classroom.

Find a Solution

Even if it’s temporary, find a solution for the day. It might be staying home if they’re not feeling well or giving them a reward for going to school. Windels said when encouraging her son to go somewhere he doesn’t want to go doesn’t work, they tell Luke they’ll do something he likes afterwards like play basketball or get some ice cream. Don’t get into the habit of giving your child a reward every time they refuse, but on occasion is OK!

Address the Problem

If you’ve tried everything you can think of and your child still doesn’t want to go to school, it might be time to set up a conference with their teacher or a school guidance counselor. They will also have insight of what goes on in the classroom and what is bothering your child. Be patient, the solution may not appear immediately, but ultimately you can figure out how to make your child love school!

by Morgan Hill