Saturday, September 18, 2010

When your child doesn't want to go to school

When a child says she or he feels sick, has a headache, stomachache, or a sore throat right before it's time to leave for school, and does this frequently, this is likely a case of school phobia or school refusal. What parent hasn't faced this issue?

The reasons for this frustrating behavior can vary. Family problems may play a part, such as a recent move, a new baby in the house, separation, or illness of a parent. Bullying at school, homework that isn't finished and problems with school work are also common reasons that children don't want to go to school.

First, take your child to the doctor for a physical to make sure there are no true health problems. Have a talk with your child's teachers, ask if they know the cause of your child's behavior and if they have any helpful suggestions.

If your child still appears anxious about going to school or has been allowed to stay home because of school refusal, make sure your child knows you are there to support him and that you are available to talk. This will help your child to know that her problems are being taken seriously.

Involve your child in planning how to best overcome the issue. Ask, "You seem to have a tummy ache every morning, what do you think the real problem is?" or "Let's talk about your morning headache and try to figure out what we can do about it because you can't be missing school like this."

Missing a lot of school can be damaging and keeping your child out of school will usually make the problem worse. Once you have investigated the possible causes, and offered your support as a parent, you may have to "push" your child out to school.

When you do allow your child to stay home and believe that he or she is sincerely sick, don't make his or her day a fun day. If watching TV, eating cookies and playing all day becomes more rewarding than going to school, you'll never get your child into the classroom - at least not with the attitude he needs for learning.

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