Dealing with school refusal is something many parents experience when their children are just starting school. Sometimes, kids will try to come up with various excuses from sudden stomachaches to headaches and toothaches to avoid going to school. Other times, they’ll start throwing tantrums which can cause some serious frustration within the household.
However, when this starts to happen more and more often, it’s usually a sign of a much deeper problem. Your job as a parent is to provide support and guidance in such situations and find effective ways to combat this behavior. To help you out, we’re listing six things you can do to deal with school refusal more effectively.
Take them seriously
There will be days when everything will go fine and dandy. There will also be days when it will take more effort to get your child to go to school. However, when this reluctance to go to school starts to occur more often, this is when the problem arises. If your child repeatedly refuses to go to school, it is important that you take them seriously and approach the situation delicately.
Some children will say that they don’t want to go to school because certain classes are boring to them. Other children, however, will consistently refuse to go to school for more serious reasons. They may be afraid that they’re going to get bullied by the classmates or that the teacher will be mean to them again. Those are completely different situations. Therefore, instead of dismissing their complaints, take their refusal to go to school seriously. There could be more going on than you know about.
Get your school involved
Getting teachers and the school that your child goes to involved is a great way to provide the support that your child needs and help them overcome school anxiety. After all, they are there to support you. When things get tough for your little one, it helps to know that they won’t be alone in their worries.
Talk to the teacher about your child’s problem and how it may affect their behavior in school. Then, try to come up with an effective solution that will ensure the best possible outcome. Inform the principal and vice-principal as well so that they can also provide the support your child needs. The school can even get students to join their forces and organize a school fundraising event where everyone feels included. Events like these help bring everyone together and make them feel like they’re part of something bigger. They’re also a fun way to get children to engage and work towards a common goal, and may even become the school’s tradition.
Listen to their concerns
The best way to help a child who is dealing with school anxiety is to make them feel heard. Talk to them about the problems they’re facing at school and listen to their concerns carefully. Sometimes, it will be something minor that you can easily solve together. The important thing is to have them sit down and talk to them when you have the time to really listen to them.
By listening to their concerns, you’ll be able to identify what’s causing the problem and whether they’re having issues with peers or teachers, or if they’re struggling in school, or if it’s something else.
Listening to your child is important, but you also want to make sure that you’re asking the right questions. Not all children will react the same to certain questions. For some, talking about their school refusal may come as a challenge.
This is why it’s important that you adjust the questions and ask them in a way they will respond to. Some children may find it easier to talk about their school anxiety when asked to rate different aspects of their school day. Some may prefer answering questions such as “What’s the one thing you’d change about your school if you could?”. Others, especially younger ones, may want to use smiley faces that they can point to and express how they feel. This is something you should definitely keep in mind when trying to identify the cause of the problem.
Remain calm and rational
Talking to a child who doesn’t want to go to school can easily turn into a battle full of tantrums, crying, yelling, and screaming. These situations can be disrupting not only for the entire household in the morning but also to parents’ and children’s entire days. To prevent these situations from happening in the first place, do your best to remain calm and rational.
Remember, arguing isn’t going to solve anything. Instead of engaging in arguments, make it clear that going to school is something you expect from your child. It’s not something that they can negotiate. Rather, it’s their duty and obligation. Talk to them in a way that leaves no room for “no”, relying on direct statements and a clear, calm tone.
Find ways to reduce separation anxiety
Sometimes, children will refuse to go to school because they’re feeling too anxious to leave their parents’ side. Their parents are there to provide a sense of security and safety. This is why they may want to stay close to them at all times. These children may take more time to adapt to new situations and people and become comfortable around them. This is why you want to make sure that you approach this situation in a delicate manner.
Pushing them into something new before they are ready could actually worsen their separation anxiety. On the other hand, holding on too tightly is not a good idea either. Instead, you should strive for balance, offering enough support and love that they feel safe while simultaneously introducing them to new situations that will help them gain independence. Remember to take it slow and create a goodbye ritual that will end on a positive note. You can also give them something they can bring with them such as a stuffed animal or a picture of you that they can rely on for a sense of comfort and security.
Combating school anxiety may seem daunting to parents, especially when they’re not certain about what’s causing this behavior. By putting an effort into understanding the cause of the school refusal, parents can help their children through these difficult times and learn how to handle these complex situations more effectively.