What you can do when your child doesn’t want to go to school.

Most children are reluctant to go to school at some time or other, but if your child is constantly unhappy about going to school you need to do something to change the situation.

First, let’s look at some of the reasons children do not want to go to school –

  • Is your child being bullied? How would you know?
  • Has there been changes in the family that are causing your child to be concerned?
  • Is your child depressed?
  • Has there been a falling out amongst friends?
  • Is the work too hard?
  • Does she hate her new teacher?
  • Is she genuinely ill?

These are some of the most obvious reasons why a child is reluctant to go to school, but there are probably many others.

Chances are that you have tried cajoling and reasoning and maybe even threatening to get your child to school. But this situation is making you and your child very unhappy and frustrated. You need to discover the cause of the problem and then work out the solution.

I suggest this three step plan –

 How to discover the cause of the problem.

It may be no good asking your child why she doesn’t want to go to school, she may not even be aware of the issues.

Start by thinking of all the reasons she might be unhappy about school. The list above should help. Then gently go through the list and ask her to comment on which of the reasons apply to her. You may get some reaction that helps you understand when you are on the right path. If this doesn’t help you discover the cause go to the next step.

Talk about your feelings about your schooling

Talk about a time when you were reluctant to go to school, make it up if you have to but try to keep it honest. If your child understands that she is not alone in her feelings she might be more ready to open up at talk about her concerns.

 If all else fails – talk to the teacher.

The teacher may be surprised when you explain what is happening with your child, she may not have noticed anything to be concerned about. But you could ask the teacher to keep an eye out for any instances that could be causing the problem, or you could ask the teacher to ask your child about her feelings. A word of warning here – only do this if you know the teacher well and trust her to support your child through this situation.

This process might take some time but it is worth it to discover exactly why your child is unhappy in school.

I worked with parents whose son was often ill in the morning and cried when he had to go to school. He was a bright boy, doing well in class, and his parents were at their wits end to know how to help him. I learned that he hated math, he felt that he couldn’t do the work he was given even though he was getting good grades.

His parents and I were not sure where this fear came from but we knew we had to do something about it.

I directed the parents to a tutor I knew who was very good at giving praise, and after having discussed the situation with her, the parents paid for a few math tutoring sessions for their son. It didn’t take long before he felt better about his math skills and the headaches and crying stopped. He became happy to go to school and, if the situation ever occurred again, his parents knew what to do about it.

Children should be happy to go to school. If your child is reluctant to go to school each morning you need to find out why. You need to treat the cause of the problem, not just try to treat the symptoms.






Patricia Porter

Dr. Patricia Porter is a Learning Skill Assessment Specialist & Speaker. Discover your Child's Learning Needs to Unlock their Full Potential.