When Your Kid Doesn’t Want To Go To School

concept shot of Japanese bullied school girl

School mornings can be tough! Along with dealing with my own kids in the mornings, I have been a school employee for many years. I have seen a little bit of everything. I work the car rider line every school morning, opening car doors for students transported to school by their parents and welcoming kids to school. Most kids get out of the car and do what they are supposed to do, but I don’t always know what may have taken place at home and in the car in order to get them there. While I do see the occasional kid who is still asleep when I open the car door, or the one who refuses to exit the vehicle and even a fighter every now and then, I think most of the morning action happens before they ever roll into the parking lot.

Taking pupil after school. Girl getting in car

  1. Remind your child often of the importance of school. Make sure that they realize that everything they have to learn has a purpose. Explain that they must prepare for the next grade, and the grade after that, until finally, they are prepared for adulthood and a career of their own some day. Make sure that they understand that school is mandatory, with laws in place to make sure all children get an education. Kids are smart, and even young children can understand rules when you talk with them.
  2. Enforce early bed times. Kids often need more sleep than we realize. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that preschoolers through 5 years old get 10-13 hours of sleep. Children between the ages 6 and 13 need 9-11 hours. Teenagers 14-17 should get 8-10 hours of sleep. When kids are not getting adequate amounts of rest, mornings are rough for everyone. For more on stress-free mornings, and adequate sleep, see “Making The Most Of Mornings” at http://www.mouchkainthemaking.com/making-the-most-of-mornings/ Turn off the t.v. during sleep hours. Even when the volume is turned down the t.v. screen, with constantly changing light and dark patterns can interrupt sound sleep.cute sleepy young girl waking up in bed looking surprised at alarm clock
  3. Build down-time into your schedule. Kids need some time to just be at home without any structured activity. This may include cutting out some good, but non-essential activities, but it can reduce stress levels and also give you an opportunity for some good quality time with your child.
  4. Get into a routine, try your best to stick with it. Wake your child up in time for him to get ready without having to rush. Kids get stressed out when they start the morning off having to hurry, and their coping mechanism may be to shut down. If they eat breakfast at home, they need enough time to enjoy the meal without scarfing it down, as well as adequate time to wash, brush their teeth, go to the bathroom, dress and get their shoes on.
  5. Try not to lose your cool with a child who drags her feet in the morning. If necessary, set a timer for each morning activity. Tell her she has 15 minutes to each, 10 to dress, etc. Let her know your expectations and give consequences when she doesn’t do what she is supposed to do. Natural consequences are sometimes best, such as not being allowed to finish eating if she goes past 15 minutes. Other times, loss of privileges might be necessary.
  6. Don’t share too much information. Especially if your child already has a hard time going to school. Don’t tell them about any “fun” things you plan to do during the day while they are in school. (I had one student who hated to miss grocery shopping with mom, so grocery days were rough!) Don’t discuss grown-up issues or problems that don’t concern them. Also, don’t share information about your job or any other situation that could cause them to worry about you. A child who is worried about a parent will often not want to come to school. Sometimes it’s best not to tell your child you will miss him while he’s at school either. This can escalate his missing you!
  7. Encourage a positive view of school. Emphasize the fun things they do or how much they are learning, and help him discover the things he enjoys about the school day, even if it’s only lunch and recess! Refrain from making negative comments about teachers, administration or other children.
  8. Many schools give parents the option to purchase a planner, which is a good tool to increase communication between parent and teacher. If your school doesn’t off planners, you can still purchase a small day planner and ask the teacher to write in it when there is a need. Planners are a great way to stay on top of your child’s conduct and to know about any special events that are coming up. This way, you are not down to the last-minute with anything, causing stress for you or your child.
  9. When you talk with your child about her day, listen for clues if you think something may be amiss. Coach her on how to handle problems with friends and remind her that if there is bullying going on, she needs to tell a grown-up. Let her know that it’s okay to be assertive, and speak up for herself with her peers, and give her strategies for handling a situation if someone teases her. Make sure she knows that if someone is being hurt or something dangerous is happening, a grown-up must be told.Portrait of sad boy siting in the chair
  10. Remember that most kids are fine once they get to their classroom. If you have a clinging, tearful kindergartener, who doesn’t want to turn loose of you in the mornings, just know that more times than not, tears are dried and they are fine once they get to their classroom.

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