Help! My Child Doesn’t Want to go to School

Three to four year old

Some children become very anxious or scared about going to childcare or school. This is especially common in September, or when your child starts in a new setting, but it can happen at any time. The typical signs are complaints about feeling sick, crankiness, tantrums, saying they can’t find things or refusing to get dressed or get in the car. This can be very stressful and frustrating. It is usually difficult to tell whether your child is really coming down with an illness, or whether they are anxious and developing physical symptoms that look like illness.

As a general rule, it is good to send a child along to daycare or school, unless they have signs of illness such as a fever or a sore throat.

  • The longer children stay home when they are not sick, the harder it is to return to school. So it is better to send them, even if they are upset.
  • Teachers and caregivers are very accustomed to dealing with this type of anxiety. And by all means, alert the school or daycare provider to what is happening, and ask them to monitor your child’s health.

However, if you and your child have had a bad morning where he has become very upset about not wanting to go to school, find a time when you and your child are both calm to try to find out what went wrong.

  • Talk with your child about his school fears and worries. Explain that there is no choice about going to school, but that you appreciate how he feels and will try to help.
  • Then talk to your child’s caregiver or teacher and ask for help and advice.

Sometimes anxiety can be eased by something as simple as the teacher changing your child’s seat in the classroom.

  • Or you or your child’s teacher may notice that he is having difficulty making new friends. You can help in this situation by inviting these other children to play in your home.

If you are feeling guilty about leaving your child, she may pick up on these feelings and become anxious herself.

  • Therefore, it’s very important to show confidence that you know your child and your child’s teacher or caregiver will have a good day when you leave them.