Wouldn’t you know it, my child did not go to school on the first day of school.
Now before I say any more, he legitimately had pink-eye the first day, so he couldn’t go to school, even though I really tried to convince the doctor that he could. 😉
But I can honestly say, that if there is a way for my son to get out of going to school, he will find it. So I am convinced, that somehow, he found someone with pink-eye and licked that kid’s face. (J/K!)
My son has hated school since day one when we “tried” to drop him off at 3-year-old preschool. To this day, I remember how he screamed like someone was trying to kill him and the teachers literally had to pry him off my husband.
You know, they tell you to just drop them off in line with the teacher and walk back out the door as soon as you can. But that is NOT easy to do when you know your child is scared to death!
I think my husband and I both cried a little that day.
And guess what, this was not the first child we ever dropped off at school. But it was the first child we ever experienced school anxiety with.
So how do you deal with a child who has school anxiety and never wants to go?
1// Talk to your child.
Finding out what your child is afraid of can be the easiest way to help your child. So talk to them and ask questions instead of b
Ask questions like…Is there someone at school that is scaring you? Is there a mean child in the class? Are you afraid mom and dad will not come back for you? Is the work too hard? Is the work too easy and you are bored?
For my son, it has always been separation anxiety. He is a true homebody and does not ever want to be away from mom and dad. And while he has gotten a lot better since
The way we deal with my son is to remind him that I will always be here to get him off the bus. We also remind him that we love him and are not going anywhere. And we remind him that school is safe and we trust the teachers and the principal to take care of him.
We also use a lot of hugs and cuddling with him when he is home. When we express our love for him in this way, it seems to calm him down and ease his mind.
2// Don’t use scare tactics
Despite how frustrated you may be by this situation, try not to use fear to get your child back to school.
I know it can be upsetting when you are missing work or you had plans for the day that are now ruined because your child is home. But getting angry at your child will only make things worse.
They are already afraid and anxious about school, don’t make them afraid and anxious about you and your feelings for them.
I know you want them to be tough and be able to handle what life is throwing at them, but try to remember that they cannot help the way they are feeling.
It is just the mind’s way of dealing with fear and until you have taught your child how to deal with that fear, they cannot and will not get past it.
3// Talk to the teachers
Sometimes your child cannot express what they are feeling and why they are feeling it. It may be because they are too young or it may be because they are not sure how to tell you about it because they don’t understand it themselves.
This is when you can try talking to your child’s teacher. Your child’s teacher is with your child for a long time during the hours of school. They see a lot and they know a lot.
Send a quick email to your child’s teacher asking them if they have noticed anything going on in the classroom either with your child or the other children in the class. The teacher may not understand what is happening specifically to your child, but she may be able to give you details about the day that help you to realize what is happening in your child’s mind.
Not only will this help you, but it will also give the teacher the ability to watch your child a little closer. Maybe she will notice something going on that is causing the problem of not wanting to go to school.
4// Analyze and explain situations to your child
I remember when my daughter was in third grade. She was scared to death to go to a certain teacher’s classroom. This teacher only taught one subject, but my daughter still had to go to the class every
I asked her why she was afraid of that teacher… she said the teacher was REALLY MEAN. (well that didn’t help much, that could mean anything)
I asked her why she thought this teacher was so mean. My daughter told me that this teacher yells at her friend (we will call her Sally) all the time.
Well, guess what, I had met Sally a few times and knew that she was very loud and outspoken.
So I asked my daughter if Sally was getting in trouble for talking in class. My daughter said yes.
Then I asked if her friend Sally was raising her hand or if she was talking over the teacher.
My daughter said she was not raising her hand and she was talking while the teacher was talking.
In my daughter’s eyes, the teacher was being mean by yelling at her friend. So I had to explain to her that the teacher’s job was to teach all of the students in the class about English and Language Arts. Therefore, if Sally is talking all the time, then the other kids cannot hear the teacher and the teacher cannot do her job.
My daughter never had another problem with that teacher. It just took me clarifying that she was not actually a scary monster who yelled at kids all the time, but just a person trying to teach.
n’t make your kids too comfortable
When my kids are truly sick, of course, I will make them comfortable by getting them anything they need, letting them watch TV, and giving them plenty of cuddles and hugs when they don’t feel well.
But if they are “faking it” to get out of going to school, the comfort all goes away.
The electronics must stay off the whole day. They have to do school work like math and reading. There is no “I’ll get you whatever food you want”. They are not allowed to go to any after school functions or sports. And they are not allowed to play with their friends when they get home from school.
Unfortunately, sometimes I think that I treat them so well when they are sick, that my son especially, thinks he will get that same treatment at home even when he isn’t sick.
So I make it blatantly clear that they WILL NOT have any fun at home if they are faking being sick.
5// Stop Volunteering at the School
When my daughter was in school, I would volunteer all the time. I loved doing it because it helped the teachers out, I got to know the other kids, and I got to see my daughter throughout the day.
When my son started school I had to stop volunteering. He would see me and he would cry and want to come home with me. It would make him so anxious that I just had to stop going into the school.
Instead, I started emailing the teachers and telling them that I could help from home. They were completely understanding and most of the things I help with now are crafts for parties. I make them at home and send them in with my son.
6// Talk to a Therapist
A child therapist or psychologist can help your child express their anxiety and put it into perspective.
The therapist will use games, drawings, stories, and role-play to help your child express what they are feeling, why they are feeling it, and how to deal with the situations that are making them nervous.
When a child goes into a situation that is scary with a way to deal with the scariness, it makes all the difference.
7// Get your child out of the house
Make sure that you child is not just sitting in front of their electronics all day. Get them outside experiencing new things.
The more they have to encounter new experiences in a safe environment (with you) the more they will be able to deal with new experiences when they are not with you.
Every time your child has a new experience, it is a chance for you to teach them how to deal with new and different things. And how to see the wonderful side of doing something new.
8// Don’t be afraid yourself
Our kids learn from our example. If you are afraid of something, then your child will be too. It is okay to express your fears to them as long as you are telling them how you overcome them as well.
But if you are so afraid that you are overprotective of your child, then they are not going to be able to get out and explore the way a child needs to in order to adapt to new situations. So make sure that you are allowing your child to explore and experience new things.
9// Go Zen
Teaching your kids how to relax is super important if they have anxiety. There are many ways you can teach them to channel the energy that their anxiety is causing them to have. You can also teach them to calm their mind or distract it from the problem.
Three things I have done with my own children are stretching, breathing and counting, and distraction.
Different techniques will work for different children, but the more they practice the techniques, the better your child will get at them. Check out this site for more ideas about going Zen.
I hope these tips help you get your anxious child back to school and feeling better about going.