It’s normal for kids to make excuses to avoid going to school sometimes. But how do you know when it starts to become a problem? School phobia usually results from anxiety or fear about school.
In Parenting Decoded: Disciplining kids in the digital age, educational psychologist Ken Resnick says parents should look out for the following signs:
- They often feel ‘sick’ and complain about a sore tummy, sore throat or headache. If they’re allowed to stay home, they’ll feel better during the day. However, the symptoms will return the following morning when it’s time for school again.
- Some children will cry excessively or throw tantrums when it’s time for school.
- Avoiding school on days when they’re having a test, speech or physical education class.
- Frequent trips to sick bay during school hours.
- Requesting to go home or call a parent regularly while at school.
There could be many reasons why kids don’t want to go to school, including being victims of teasing or bullying, learning difficulties (for example they have to read out in class but struggle to read fluently), anxiety caused by starting at a new school, or even separation anxiety from the parent.
What can parents do?
- First, find out what the problem is. If it’s bullying or teasing, ask the teacher to set up a meeting between the children and parents, to resolve the matter.
- If it’s a learning difficulty, and depending on the severity, speak to the teacher or an educational therapist to determine where the problem lies.
- If your child has started at a new school, watch to see whether they’ve made new friends or not. If they haven’t, ask the teacher who she has seen your child chatting to, and try organising a play-date with that child’s parents.
- If you have tried the above tips or suspect your child may have separation anxiety, arrange to speak to a child therapist who will be able to help with calming your child and making them comfortable with attending school.
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