Talking about the more serious and less generic reasons of children not wanting to attend school…

Sometimes, the reason behind a child not wanting to go to school could be far more serious than we realize. This holds especially true when the child in question is going to great lengths to avoid school, to the point of causing himself emotional or physical stress, trauma and even harm. Listen to your child, s/he may be trying to say something to you with his or her actions…

Bargain – would your child like you to change anything?

You really want your child to go to school. Strike a deal with them – s/he may really want to change something about you – quit drinking, start exercising, or stop with the nagging – I am sure the list would be endless. If s/he goes to school regularly, promise to do that one thing s/he really wants you to do – and stick to it. It is an effort for sure, but no one said that parenting was a one way street. You are going to have to learn to give in to your child, especially when s/he has a valid point. Make a deal: s/he becomes regular at school and you do something to better yourself in return (this does not mean s/he gets to skip chores, though!)

Ease off on grade pressure – every child is different

Again, emphasizing the same – not all children are intellectually gifted. Pressure to get good grades may be working as a culprit for your child not wanting to get to school. Try easing off – if your child attends school yet slips from As to Cs – relax, it could just be a phase. Schools are about education, yes, but education itself is not limited to books and grades. Your child is learning amazing new things every day – from art to sports, morality to a sense of justice, and also learning to be a happy human being. Forcing them to study and asking them to achieve higher and higher grades may put too much pressure on him or her – forcing them to hate and skip school. Ease off and let your child be, at least for some time.

Try making a big picture list – aspiration and inspiration

Motivation is not just material – make a list of aspirational and inspirational things too. Regular school would mean better grades, which can lead to a better chance of college. An overall better life is the big picture here. Children are all about short term rewards and benefits – the long term big picture eludes them – so it is up to you to point it out to them and paint it in rosy hues for them to follow.

Separation anxiety – more time with children

Children of all ages can be victims of separation anxiety – being away from the security of home and parents is one of the primary reasons that younger children shy away from school. The best way to tackle this is to spend more time with your child when they get home from school. However, even older children can fall prey to this – the best way to deal with children with separation anxiety is to listen to them and alleviate their fears instead of just brushing their emotions aside. You want your child to be regular at school, but more importantly, you also want him to be a happy and content child. Simply shrugging off their fears is not an answer – for them, the anxiety is very real and can turn crippling if not dealt with by the parent.

Get the teacher involved

The class teacher, the principal and the school counselor – think of them as your allies. Involve them, talk to them and brainstorm with them to think of a solution to get your kids to like school. These are the people who may know the reason why your child hates school in the first place, too. The reasons could be something as bad as being bullied by the popular kids or as simple as getting some extra tuition to clear basic confusions in subjects like math or science. Most teachers would reach out to the parents themselves – remember to take everything they say with an open mind. They are not there to bad mouth your child, but perhaps help you as much they can get him or her to attend and like school.

Is it about peer pressure / bullying at school?

The adage “with friends like these, who needs enemies…” is never truer than in school. Peer pressure can really bog down a child and shake their self-confidence – keep the lines of communication wide open with your children to get to the bottom of it all. It’s difficult for a child to come home to his or her parent and admit to being bullied – with a shaky self-confidence, the child is fearful of a negative reaction from you, the parent. What s/he needs for you to do is to lean a non-judgmental ear and then probably work out a solution with you – this will help them regain a sense of control – the very first thing that bullying strips away. Listen, understand and then discuss the same with your child before you react.

A serious issue – can the school be changed?

While the topic itself is commonplace, and faced by every parent – sometimes there could be serious underlying issues of getting abused, verbally or physically, by an authority figure at school. Listen to your child and try and get to the bottom of it all. Bullying can take far more serious faces and turn into abuse if not stopped in time. And it’s not just peers or older kids who bully – sadly, sometimes it could be the teachers and coaches who are perpetrators of mental, physical and sexual abuse. Your child may be too scared to talk about it, or too fearful of a backlash – but gentle and consistent prodding is the only answer to such a serious issue. Take action and ensure you change the school if need be. 

An underlying issue - is a psychologist needed?

Finally, if all else fails – chin up and get a child psychologist involved. As parents you do know your child inside out, but sometimes an expert is needed to peel off the layers and get to the core of the issue. It could be something as small as separation anxiety or something as big as abuse. What you as parents aren’t able to achieve, sometimes a third party with specialized training can. And this does not mean that you have failed as parents – rather that by seeking help, you should be applauded for being a responsible parent unafraid to reach out if the need arises. The end game has to be the child and their happiness – everything else is just background noise and should be relegated as unimportant.

So that was our take on how parents can deal with back to school blues. Have any experiences to share with us? Write to us in the comments sections below…

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