As we are all settling in to the school routine, it is common to have some difficulty acclimating to the new school year schedule. Morning struggles to get to school can be frustrating and even agonizing for parents and children alike. As the school year progresses, most children settle into a comfortable routine with school. However, what do you do when going to school is just not getting any better? Here are some strategies to use when your child just does not like school:
Don’t make assumptions.
As parents, we know our children and their personalities. As such, sometimes we make assumptions about the cause of a child’s behavior. Don’t assume that your child is making mountains out of molehills or that they are “just that way in the morning.” While this is true of some children, if getting to school or school attendance are daily problems, this issue deserves more investigation.
Talk about the problem.
Sit down when you can give your child undivided attention and have a talk about school. Ask him why he doesn’t want to go to school, and really take the time to listen to his answer. If your child just shrugs her shoulders or says, “I don’t know”, ask the question is a different way. For example, “If you were the principal, what would you change so that all kids liked to go to school?” or, “Why do you think that some kids just don’t like to go to school?”
Meet with the teacher.
Children can display very different parts of themselves at school than they do at home. So ask to have a conference with your child’s teacher and find out what behaviors are happening at school. Does your child smile, raise his hand, complete his work, play with others and ask for help?
Build your team.
Often, you need to reach out to people to find solutions to the problem. Common reasons that children don’t want to go school include bullying, difficulty with school work, difficulty getting along with peers and worries about the school day. As you begin to find the reason that your child does not want to attend school, reach out to others who can help you such as your school psychologist, guidance counselor, school social worker, pediatrician, family members, previous teachers and local mom groups.
Reward positive choices.
We all want our children to feel internal satisfaction for good choices, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. If you have ruled out other causes of poor school attendance, try a reward system with incentives for your child. Change up the rewards to include small tokens, larger rewards and extra privileges. Celebrate even the smallest successes!
Let failure be a guide.
If things are just not working out and school attendance continues to be a challenge, go back to the beginning and talk again with your child. If you weren’t able to get to the root of the problem, then school will continue to be a struggle. If your child has a hard time expressing her concerns, consider having her talk with someone at the school, a community-based counselor or a trusted family member. Each time things are difficult and getting to school fails to improve, we are learning more information about what will work in the long run.
Allow time for changes.
Change takes time and sometimes it can feel like things are moving backwards. Breathe and stick with your program. Change is hard.