Parenting Tips: When Your Child Is Afraid of School

It is not uncommon for parents to notice at some point during their child’s life when he or she is afraid of school. Fear is a very strong and real emotion arising from a perceived threat in the school environment. This should not be thought of by parents as an excuse by their child to stop going to school because they are lazy. Far from it. If you look deeper, you will discover that there are circumstances that justify your child’s fear of school.

Your child usually manifests two types of behaviors when he or she is afraid of school. Indirectly, he or she may procrastinate in their preparations for school in the morning or they may go so far as to feign illness. Directly, the child may cry, tell you frankly, be defiant or go into an outright tantrum against going to school. These are very clear signs that your child is afraid of something in the school.

Rather than order your child to school, it is vital that you get to the root cause of the matter. You need to find the reason for his or her fear and then come up with a solution so that he or she will be encouraged to go return to school again.

Here are some tips that you can follow based on the age of the child…

Pre-School, Kindergarten or First Grade Kids

One possible cause of fear of school in this age group is separation anxiety. You can ask your child questions such as “Why are you feeling like this?” and “Do you miss me when you are in school?” If the answer to these questions is yes, the next thing you should ask is “How can I help you?” In these cases, it may be necessary for you to monitor your child in school for a couple of weeks. You can sit in the classroom and then slip out and wave goodbye once you see your child growing accustomed to his or her surroundings.

Children of Any Age who Show Great Resistance to Going to School

If your child who used to go to school without any problems suddenly exhibits very strong resistance, it is very important to ask questions like “Is something going on in school that makes you afraid?”, “Are you afraid of someone in school?”, or “You used to love school before. What made you change your mind?”

Usually, the child may be threatened by a bully, their peers or a teacher. Such acts should never be permitted. With the current worldwide outcry against bullying, it is now not acceptable for parents to just sit back and let their child handle their own battles. Instead, support your child. It is vital that you hold a parent-teacher meeting and inform them of the bullying. If it is a mean teacher, report them to the principal. Make sure that you are calm and civil in your discussions. Inform your child of your plans and actions that you are going to take, and to inform you of any retaliation to such actions. For older aged kids, you and your child can come up with effective strategies and solutions to the problem.

Children of Any Age who Show Mild Resistance to Going to School

There will occasions when the child will mildly resist going to school or will refuse to go on one day or another. In these cases, the problem usually lies in their academics. If your child is having problems with his or her studies, ask the teacher or guidance counselor to update you on his or her grades and any study difficulties. It may be necessary to help them with their homework or get the services of a tutor to help your child catch up. If your child’s problem is related to his or her failing to do their homework or study for a snap quiz, express your dissatisfaction at their irresponsibility and let them face the consequences of their behavior. They will soon come to realize that they need to study in order to make the grade.

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