At some point in time, most parents will hear the words “I don’t WANT to go to school!” come from their child. So what do you do when it happens? First and foremost – stay calm. Before you over-react, take a deep breath and look at the situation for some clues. Consider these points:

  • Is this a new development?
  • Has your child missed school for illness and could be anxious about being behind in their work?
  • Does your child feel comfortable with their teacher/s?
  • Have any new children recently joined the class?
  • Can you narrow down the part of the day the child is concerned about? Recess? A lunchroom issue? Gym class?
  • If your child rides a bus or is in a carpool, is that a concern to them?
  • Are they struggling with any particular subjects in school?
  • Are they anxious about being away from you?
  • Do they have incomplete homework or projects that are due?
  • Have they ever expressed fear about school violence?
  • Have they ever expressed concerns about being targeted by bullies?
  • Has the school contacted you about problems they have seen?
  • Does your child have other anxieties or worries?

Establishing frequent and open communication with your child early on will help them be more likely to confide in you when difficulties arise. After you collect the information that you can, you will be better able to plan a course of action. You may be able to resolve the issue yourself or you may need to work with school personnel to learn more or to determine the best way to address things. And finally – don’t rule out that they might just be having “one of those days.”