What to do if your child says they do not want to go to school

Not wanting to go to school is a very common problem for parents – particularly in September after the long summer holidays.

The reasons for school refusal can vary greatly from being worried about a test, not having homework done to not being able to cope with school rules or finding it difficult to make friends.

These things can generate worry or anxiety in children and make them panic at the thought of having to go into the classroom every day.

It’s important to help your child understand their feelings, to get to the root of the worry and address it.

There are some things you can do to work on the problem together:

  • Encourage your child to look at their worries about school and find alternative positive solutions to help them. For example, they might be worried about not having friends in school to spend break times with. Brainstorm with your child things that they could do that might help them join in with others at break time. Or alternative things they can do on their break time by themselves.

  • Talk with your child about what their day in school looks like, how they would like to feel and come up with a plan around how they could try to achieve this with your support.

  • Arrange a meeting with your child’s school to see how they can support you and your child. Make the teacher aware of your child’s worries and anxieties; get them to support your child while they’re in school. So, for a child who is finding it hard to get in the school gate in the morning, the principal or class teacher could help with your child’s arrival to school.

  • Use tools like mindfulness and breathing exercises to show your child how they can relax when they feel worried or anxious.

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