Tears & Tantrums: Please help; my child does not want to go to school!


l Back l Feedback l


Background: The parents are faced with the challenge of addressing their Grade 1 daughter's sudden refusal to attend school despite having already been enrolled for two months. The daughter, aged six, exhibits distressing behaviours such as crying herself to sleep at night and experiencing physical symptoms of illness in the morning, indicating a significant emotional and psychological struggle with attending school. Therefore, the problem at hand is to determine effective strategies and interventions that parents can implement to alleviate their daughter's school-related anxieties and facilitate her successful transition back to a positive school experience.

Recommendations: When a young child suddenly exhibits signs of distress and reluctance to attend school, it's crucial for parents to approach the situation with empathy, patience, and understanding. Here are some steps parents can take to address the issue:

Address nighttime anxieties:

  • Calming bedtime routine: Create a relaxing bedtime routine that includes a bath, reading stories, and quiet cuddles. This routine signals to your daughter that it's time to wind down and feel safe.

  • Talk about worries: Before bed, gently ask your daughter if there's anything bothering her at school. Listen patiently and offer reassurance. Validate her feelings and remind her that it's okay to feel scared or nervous.

  • Comfort objects: Allow your daughter to have a favourite stuffed animal or blanket for comfort at night.

Morning routine:

  • Extra time in the morning: If mornings are rushed, try waking up a little earlier to avoid extra stress.

  • Positive reinforcement: Praise your daughter for getting ready for school, even small steps.

  • Address physical symptoms: If she complains of stomach aches or headaches, take her temperature and rule out any illness.

Talk to the teacher:

  • Schedule a meeting: Discuss your daughter's anxieties with her teacher. They may have insights into what's happening at school and can offer additional support.

  • Monitor progress: Stay in touch with the teacher and keep them updated on your daughter's progress at home.

Additional tips:

  • Make school fun: Talk about the positive aspects of school, like playtime, learning new things, and seeing friends. Read books about starting school together.

  • Playdates: Arrange playdates with classmates outside of school to help your daughter feel more comfortable with them.

  • Seek professional help: If the anxieties persist, consider talking to a child therapist who can help your daughter develop coping mechanisms.

It's important to be patient and understanding. Adjusting to a new grade can be challenging for some children. By addressing nighttime anxieties, creating a calm morning routine, and working with the teacher, you can help your daughter feel more secure, safe and happy.


Additional Reading: The Best Way to Respond When Your Child Refuses to Go to School 
Picture: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/small-schoolgirl-covering-face-crying-portrait-1451173913