When Your Child Doesn't Want To Go To School

06/04/2011 11:07 | Updated 22 May 2015

child doesn't want to go to schoolThe morning count-down to school can be stressful enough, but it becomes 10 times harder if your child doesn't want to go to school.

Not wanting to go to school is a stage most children go through at some stage; whether it's faking a tummy ache to have a day in bed or because they're sad after a playground argument.

My own daughter happily settled into primary school. But a few weeks later she said, 'I like school but how much longer do I need to go for?' as reality dawned that school could be for the long haul.

I know at that stage I fudged the issue somewhat by saying 'a few years longer' rather than admitting another 10 years -double her five-year-old lifetime.

The 'don't want to go to school' syndrome can hit at any stage, (and while in some cases it can be down to more serious issues like bullying), for most it's just like, 'that Monday morning feeling you get as an adult when you don't want to go to work', says Emma, mum to an eight year old.

Parenting author Antonia Chitty says young children 'don't have a strong sense of time and a week at school can seem like, 'always and forever'.

If your child has so far enjoyed school and just seems to be struggling to get going in the mornings or finding a five day week too much, Antonia suggests 'visual things like charts where they can tick off days of the week with something positive to focus on every day and on Friday make sure there's a treat say having a friend back for tea'.

Avoiding that school morning panic, when you're searching for lost PE kits and rummaging in the freezer for bread to make packed lunches, can go a long way to making children feel relaxed about the school routine.

Mum of two primary children, Katie, says her nightly routine saves morning stress. 'It's a struggle last thing at night but I always check the kids have clean clothes; get the breakfast bowls out and do as much as I can for the packed lunches, that way I get a head start and the kids get into a routine plus I'm not a screaming mad woman by the time we reach the school gates'.

Having a word with your child's teacher is important too, particularly if you feel the problem's caused by something at school. 'It's often a case of having a word informally and asking them to keep an eye on the situation' advises Antonia. She says it could be that your child is just daunted by the whole 'going into the playground' thing; particularly if they've just started their first or changed schools.

Help them feel relaxed and save them getting caught up in the rushing and pushing when the bell goes by working out with the teacher 'the best way to make that transition; maybe going in earlier so the teacher can help them get their coat on the peg and find someone to sit next to'.

But as parents we too can be guilty of 'prolonging' the upset when it comes to dragging out the 'goodbyes'; so 'firm and fast' is the key, advises Antonia. 'Don't hang on once you've left them with the teacher; no lurking outside, just hand them over with a big smile'.

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