– Good morning, Tim! It’s time to get up! Time to go to school!
– I’m not feeling well… *very poor cough*
We might not remember anymore, but we were kids once too (the good old times…), and we didn’t always like going to school. But we always had our reasons. And those reasons really mattered to us. They kept us awake at night, took away our appetite, made us sad and anxious. And the worst part is that, most times, we didn’t know how to handle or express these emotions, so our parents didn’t really know if something was going on.
If you think your child might be trying to avoid going to school, keep reading, this post might come in handy!
When your child fakes being sick
Headache, stomach ache, a sore throat… You wake them up in the morning, they look at you teary-eyed, lying in bed, and whisper “I don’t think I can go to school today”.
Method actors might even start their Oscar-worthy interpretation the night before. A shy cough, a face of excruciating pain while sipping on their glass of water… little gestures that would make Meryl Streep proud. Let us clarify something, though; this doesn’t mean they don’t actually feel ill; headaches and stomach aches are common manifestations of anxiety.
Of course, they can actually be sick too; schools are the perfect environment for viruses and bacteria to spread. What we’re saying is that, if they do this a bit too often and never have a fever or any measurable symptoms, you should start to consider they might not be very happy about going to school.
You can check this post from Parents.com (written by a father and paediatrician) to see if your child is actually sick or might be faking.
What to do if your child doesn’t want to go to school
1. If there’s no fever, we can go to school
Getting up early to go to school –or to go to work in our case –is hard for everyone; so it’s normal that kids try to avoid getting out of their warm bed. If they say they are feeling ill, check their temperature. If there’s no fever, tell them they have to go to school and you can always go pick them up later.
In many cases, the reason why they don’t want to school is pure laziness.
2. Make staying home a bit boring
If every time they stay in, they spend the day watching movies, playing games and eating snacks, they will find staying home a lot more fun than going to school and will definitely try to do it more often.
To make sure they aren’t just staying in for this reason, reduce the fun to zero.
3. Guide them through their emotions
If the reason why they don’t want to go to school is more serious and you can see they are struggling; make them feel comfortable enough to share the reasons why they feel that way. They might worry about their grades, about issues with friends…
Understanding one’s emotions is hard even for an adult, let alone a child. So guide your child through them. If they say they have a stomach ache, tell them it happens to you too, specially in certain situations that make you unhappy. That might help them understand why their tummy hurts.
4. Talk to their teachers
They see your child every day and will definitely be able to spot whatever gives them anxiety. And if they haven’t spotted anything yet, they will start to pay more attention!
5. See a doctor
If you feel nothing helps, don’t discard seeking medical help. Your paediatrician can refer you to a therapist specialised in childhood anxiety. Going to therapy is nothing but positive!