When Your Child 'Hates' School

Most children complain about school once in a while. But about 5 percent of kids dislike school so much that they refuse to attend. You need to find out what's going on.

By Judy Molland

Thumbs Down on School“Mom! I don’t feel good!” your child yells from the bathroom, where she has closeted herself for the past 15 minutes. It’s 7 a.m., and you have to get yourself and your two children out the door by 7:20, or the day will be a disaster. Worse, it’s the third time this month your child has complained of a stomachache. What’s going on?

Most children complain about school once in a while. But about 5 percent of kids dislike school so much that they refuse to attend. Christopher Kearney, director of the Child School Refusal Clinic at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, says the most common incidence occurs among young children going to school for the first time.

Parents can do a lot to allay this fear, says Jerlean Daniel, deputy executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). First, Daniels suggests, consider whether you are inadvertently putting pressure on your child. Second, in the case of first-timers’ fears, it’s often helpful to take your child to school ahead of time. That way, he or she can get to know the building, the teachers and even the route to school. In most cases, first-timer’s fears subside within a few days.

But if your child continues to consistently express a dislike for school or refuses to attend, Kearney recommends taking the child to a doctor for a thorough checkup. A physician may be able to pinpoint other reasons for your child’s anxiety or determine if there’s a health problem involved.

Problems at School

While some kids are terrified of setting foot inside the school door, your child may be one of those who’s been there for a while, but announces one day, out of the blue, that she hates school. Here are some possible reasons for this outburst, along with strategies to help you and your child move forward in a positive way:

Learning Issues – When your child declares a hatred for school, it could be that she is having trouble learning. It’s also possible that she is bored at school, because she is underchallenged, or underachieving.

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