It is the rare child that wakes up every morning excited to attend school. Most of us have heard our kids say at one time or another, “I don’t want to go to school today!” Some infrequent, short-lived dislike of the school experience is normal, but what do you do when your child is suddenly and consistently upset about going to school? A few simple interventions could help you send your kid off with a smile on his face.
Become a Detective
If your child is going through a stage and she doesn’t want to attend school, the first thing you as a parent must do is ask leading questions about her school experience. Very often a child resists going to school because she is attempting to avoid a painful experience. For example, perhaps another child is picking on her or she is anticipating a confrontation with a substitute teacher. Start with general questions such as, “What’s going on? Why don’t you want to go to school today?” then move to more specific questions like, “Is someone bothering you?” The combination of a listening ear and a little detective work can help you get to the bottom of the problem. Once you figure out what’s going on, you’ll be better equipped to help your child.
Promote Healthy Rituals
Oftentimes our kids don’t want to go to school because they are not adequately prepared to face the day. For instance, if your child is consistently whiny or irritable on school mornings, it may be that he is not getting enough sleep. Most kids need 8-10 hours of sleep per night depending on their age and personal needs. Having a set bed time (and sticking to it!) can go a long way in helping your child feel good about going to school the next day. A morning ritual can also help your little one be ready for school. When your kid knows what is expected of him in the mornings and has plenty of time to accomplish it, it is bound to improve his outlook. After all, no one enjoys feeling rushed. A chart or some other creative tool may be needed to keep your little guy on track in the mornings. Also remember the importance of a full tummy! Make sure your child has had plenty to eat before heading off each day. By implementing healthy rituals, we increase the likelihood that our kiddos will go to school each day with a pleasant attitude.
Employ Coping Strategies
It may be that your child has a disposition that doesn’t lend itself well to being away from her caregiver for extended periods of time. If this is the case, using a transitional object of some kind may be helpful. For example, you can give your little one a small object to keep in her pocket throughout the day. At the end of each day, she can bring it home and exchange it for 30 minutes of cuddle time with mom! Or, how about letting your child pick her own snack to take to school? Having something special to look forward to can help your kid have a brighter outlook on her day.
Remember, there is no one right answer for every kid, but by listening, incorporating healthy rituals, and thinking creatively, we can begin the process of helping our children enjoy their school experience!