What to Do When your Child Hates School

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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All kids grumble about going to school at one time or another. This is perfectly normal, but what if your child truly hates school?

Statistics show that five to ten percent of school children hate attending. They fake illness, become severely depressed, go to the nurse's office to be sent home, refuse to talk about the school day and have meltdowns every morning before they go out the door. If you see your child in any of these scenarios you have reason to be very concerned.

At times problems with kids and school can be easily resolved. Such was the case when a teacher only communicated with the children closest to her. It was as if the children at the back of the room were invisible. When it was brought to her attention that she was ignoring the children at the back of the room, this first-year teacher changed her teaching style. It wasn't long until all of the children in her class were very enthusiastic about their lessons.

Often, resolving the problems isn't so easy. Pin-pointing the reason your child hates school can be very difficult and time consuming. However, there are some common reasons why kids hate school.

Loneliness

Some kids have a very difficult time making friends. If your child dislikes going on class trips or gives away favorite possessions in order to be liked, he is suffering from loneliness. Be sure he has appropriate social skills. He may be speaking too loud or too soft. Possibly he doesn't make eye contact when he speaks to his peers. Teach him to approach other children, introduce himself, ask them their name and invite them to play. Let him know that it's not the end of the world if they have previous arrangements to play with another child. Encourage him to try again another day.

Many kids who are lonely have low self-esteem. No one has ever pointed out his good qualities. Encourage your child to help others with subjects that he excels in. For instance, if he is a math whiz, encourage him to help a classmate who is struggling with the subject. This will help him to feel good about himself and build his self-esteem. In return, he will make friends more easily, which will further boost his self-esteem. This is a very positive circle. The more he feels good about himself, the more friends he will make.

Anxiety

Young children often dislike school because they suffer from separation anxiety. If your family is going through a time of crisis, older children and even teens may suffer a great deal of stress while away from you.

When little ones head off to kindergarten, be careful of the way you bid them farewell. Give them a hug, say "Have a great day," and assure them that you will see them when school lets out. If you work and someone else will be picking them up, assure them that Grandma or Aunt Jane will meet them after school. Often all young children need is a bit of reassurance.

Don't contribute to older children's anxiety by making them dependent on you. If your child is going to a new school, take him to meet his teacher and have her give him a tour of the school prior to his first day. This positive transition method will help him cope with the changes in his life and make the move with less anxiety and stress.

If your child dreads giving a presentation or speech in front of his classmates, have him practice at home. If a project is due at the end of the month, have him work on it in increments instead of doing it all at once. Always encourage him and assure him that he can accomplish anything. Use phrases such as, "You can do it," or "You're doing awesome," to encourage him in his efforts. Assure him that he's always a winner if puts forth his best effort.

Bullying

Kids can fear attending school if they are being bullied by their peers or a teacher. If your child has very few friends, complains about his teacher constantly yelling at him and seems to be afraid to go to school, he may be a victim of bullying. Many children will not tell if they are being bullied because they have been threatened.

Teach your child to be assertive, not aggressive. If your child is in elementary school and is being teased or harassed, advice him to tell the principal or his teacher. If you have to become involved in order to resolve the issue, arrange a meeting with the principal and teacher. Never approach the parents of another student. If the problem isn't resolved upon speaking to school authorities, contact the school board or the police.

Learning Problems

Some children hate school because they experience learning problems. These can be caused by a lack of good motor skills, difficulty communicating, problems with vision or hearing and a wide variety of other factors. Children who experience difficulty learning are often unable to finish assignments. This results in frustration and anxiety. If you suspect your child is experiencing problems learning, talk to his teacher about having him evaluated. Once a reason is found for the problems he is having, his school experience will be much more positive.

Personality Conflict

Sometimes a child and a teacher have a personality conflict for one reason or another. Your child may feel the teacher treats him unfairly. The teacher may not realize that he feels this way, so the more your child rebels, the more discipline the teacher doles out. Talk to your child's teacher about any complaints of unfairness. Arrange for them to sit down together and talk out their differences. If the issue still isn't resolved and your child and the teacher are constantly at odds with one another, request that your child be transferred to another class. However, use extreme caution. Be sure to listen to both your child's and the teacher's side of the story. Your child must learn to deal with all types of people and should only be transferred to another class if the situation is completely out of control. If necessary, bring the principal or a school counselor in to the situation in order that it can be resolved for all parties concerned.

Once you've identified the reason why your child hates school, take the proper steps to find a solution to the problem. It's imperative that your child's school experience be a positive one in order for him to get the best education possible. What happens during his school years will definitely have a great impact on his entire life.

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