They are supposed to be the best days of your child’s life – but how do you cope if your child doesn’t want to go to school – or even hates school?
Many children will be starting school of the first time next week. Most children of four and five find the transition to full-time school quite demanding.
And there are few things more distressing for a parent than dragging a crying child into the classroom each day. Or coping with a mysterious ‘tummy ache’ that only ever seems to happen on school day mornings…
Peter, (Mr Twizzle) says:
“However stressful if may be for you as a parent, it’s worth remembering children take their cue from you. If you are anxious your child will instinctively know there is something to be fearful of. So its best to be relaxed – and to help them relax play some simple fun games on the way to school to distract them. Making them laugh as they walk through the school gates will help to send them happily on their way.”
Some schools run welcome parties which are a great way to get new kids excited about starting school and are brilliant for helping the children to get to know each other through fun and games.
If you child appears unhappy at school what should you do?
First of all, you need to establish whether your child really is unhappy at school, or whether it’s just a well-staged protest. Have a chat with your child’s teacher. Chances are, your child, along with others in the class, just needs a little time to settle in to the school routine.
Help your child adapt to school
You can help your child cope by:
But what do you do if the problem continues or if your child is older and has previously enjoyed school?
It’s good to talk
You need to talk with your child. Ask questions like: Who did you play with? What did you do today? What was the best/worst part of the day? Don’t make it the Spanish Inquisition – be relaxed or your child will clam up.
Sometimes role-play works well with younger children – use toys and dolls to ‘act out’ scenes from school. Your child’s responses should give you a good idea as to what she likes/dislikes about school.
Older children tend to be monosyllabic straight after school – they’ve had a busy day! Pick a time when you are both relaxed, then start chatting to your child about a problem that you have. Sharing confidences is infectious and chances are, before long, your child will open up to you.
A problem shared is a problem halved
Whether you find out what’s wrong or not, empathise with your child. Say: ‘you must be upset, let’s try and sort something out. ‘ Your child will start to feel more confident about tackling a tricky situation.
Discuss with your child different ways of coping with situations. For instance, if your child is shy and finds it hard to make friends, set an example by chatting to a friendly mum at the school gate. Invite her over for tea with your child’s classmate.
Make an appointment with your child’s teacher to discuss the problem. After all, it is in both your interests to sort it out.
If you think your child is being bullied
When a child who previously enjoyed school starts making excuses about not going to school or becomes withdrawn and anxious, but won’t talk about it, you need to consider whether he or she is being bullied.
If your child is a bully
Bullies usually suffer from low self-esteem.
You can find out more tools to help your child on the BBC web-site.
If there is an issue with bullying at your child’s school – talk to the teachers. They can help and support, they may even run workshops on how to deal with bullies.