The age-old question parents’ deal with every year is why don’t my kids want to go back to school?
There are lots of reasons why kids cling to their parents when being dropped off in kindergarten or 1st grade or just “say” they don’t want to go to middle school or even get tearful when they head to college. What matters the most is what we teach our kids to do when these feelings of apprehension seem to overwhelm them. So here are some tips for those anxiety filled days!
#1 Lots of kids say they “Don’t want to go to school” and immediately that gets their parents to start talking about all the millions of reasons why they have to go to convince them that school is fun! Whether or not your kids go to school should never be a topic of discussion, because the reality is they are going to have to go. So tell your kids that in our family we don’t say we don’t want to go to school, but instead talk about HOW we’re going to make school fun and HOW TO deal with conflicts or disappointments at school.
#2 ‘Practice’ going to school, especially with elementary kids or if your child is going to a new school. Young kids need to ‘play’ school on off school hours so they can predict what to expect at school and learn how to behave at school. So put on a silly hat and pretend you’re their teacher inviting them to participate in the classroom!
#3 Agree on a ‘final’ drop-off ritual, so your kids will know exactly when your good-bye ends or you leave no matter what. Parents have a tendency to say good-bye a million times and then don’t leave if their child gets worried or tense or a younger child starts to cry. What this tells your child is that you’re not sure they can be left at school and maybe you’re unsure of the situation. So at home make an art project together for their room that says, “School Drop Off is Safe” so your kids know that school is a safe and secure place. Then practice your FINAL good-bye and that can be anything from a high five hand slap to a kiss on each cheek to saying have a great day or see you soon; whatever you decide stick to it absolutely every day.
Finally, understand that school is just like any new situation as it comes with a certain amount of stress because kids cannot possibly anticipate everything that might happen day to day. So even if they are going back to the same school, with all their friends in the same town the dynamics of school change everyday. Some days your child is in a ‘bad’ mood, tired or their best friend is sick that day so they are not in school or they have a substitute teacher or there is a fire drill or their group of friends starts to eat lunch without them or they get a test score back that disappoints them.
The answer is to teach your child HOW TO cope with the unpredictable school day!
Parents, as always I would love to hear how you feel and deal with this subject, Dr. Ann