Sunday, 22 April 2012

Help! My child doesn't want to go to school!

Late on Sunday evening, the night before school was due to start a new term after the Easter break, my friend's five year old daughter took a tube of toothpaste, squeezed out three or four large gloops, and rubbed it all into her dry hair like shampoo.  All over. 

Her mother, understandably, was fairly upset.  It took four actual shampoos and rinses to get the bulk of it out of her hair.  Bedtime was somewhat delayed.

You'll obviously have worked out that this child wasn't keen on school.  It's nothing new; she's been coming up with excuses to avoid going to school for the whole 18 months she's been in attendance.  Luckily, her mum, being the sensible woman she is, hasn't let her daughter win this battle of wills.  Attending school is not a debating matter.  But, the daughter has obviously inherited her mother's fighting spirit and stubbornness, so it's a battle of wills that continues to rage.

Excuses have included;
  • I can only go to school when it's sunny.  
  • I've broken my leg. (she obviously hadn't).  
  • I can't find any socks (she'd hidden them all)
  • I can't find my shoes (she'd hidden those too)
There's no doubting she's got a brilliant imagination.  But mum has had mornings where she has had to take her into school in her pyjamas, uniform in bag, and carry her to the door kicking and screaming.

Ironically, once at school, all reports suggest that she enjoys it.  She is super bright; reading texts far beyond her years; but appears to socialise happily in the school environment.

Her mother, though, is starting to wonder if she'll ever go to school without fuss.

Can anyone help? 

Is this something that she will eventually grow out of?  Or is it a habit that she'll find hard to break?  Is there anything more mum can do?

What inventive things has your child done to avoid school?


  1. its soo hard when you have a child who is refusing to go to school happily I think the best thing to do is just keep up with the routine like your friend is doing, make sure obviously there are no under lying issues which mean she is unhappy at school but if all is fine once there its just a matter of keeping up with the process until she gives in and goes happily xx

    1. Thank you for commenting. I will pass on your advice. It is such a tricky one isn't it?

      Thanks again


  2. I had the same situation with my daughter. She cried every night and every morning for many months. I finally decided to tell the teacher because I could not "fix it" on my own. It was reported that she was fine socially and academically and that she may be trying for attention. However, having been a teacher, I wasn't satisfied with the answer. I think that most children are unhappy with school from time to time and yes, that is natural, but not consistently over a long period of time. In my situation, I think that the teacher had a lot on her plate and, to her, it was typical for a child to complain. After a few more attempts, I finally gave up on trying to work with the teacher to rectify the situation ( who could not be bothered) and went to the deputy head, who was brilliant, she put older children in the play areas to act like buddies and teach the children how to play "nice." My daughter was also given a strategy to use when in a difficult social situation. Within the week, the problem was resolved and one year later she still loves school. There is the occasional whinge but she has skills to solve the problems now. I would definitely tell your friend to investigate this further and if necessary, write it in a letter, so there is no confusion about the situation.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My friend's school has luckily been great and has set up a similar buddy systen with older children that seems to work well in school.

      I wonder whether it is all about getting attention from mum rather than a problem with school?

      I will ask her to ensure she keeps checking at school though, just in case we are missing something.

      Thanks again. I appreciate it.

  3. Does your friend have any other children? It could be that she's worried she'll miss some fun or attention. Have your friend try having some special 1-1 mummy and daughter time, even if it's just for half an hour, just spending time together alone doing fun things. Sometimes a little 1-1 attention can make a lot of difference, especially if it's regular and guarenteed!

    Also check that there isn't an underlying cause. My nephew went from a happy little boy who loved school to a 4yr old who would fake tummy ache every morning so he wouldn't have to go. The school had diagnosed him with ADHD when he started at 3 1/2 and only let him go a couple of days a week. Then when he started fulltime his teacher didn't have the patience or understanding to deal with him and he got blamed for everything. My mum went to pick him up one day and when his teacher walked in hid under the table!!! In the end my brother changed his school and on the 2nd day there he sang and skipped to school and loved school once again.

    Does she have any friends? Is she shy? Sometimes that can make it hard for them and if that is the case, maybe helping her to build a friendship with another girl in her class could help.

    Hope she gets this sorted, but she's doing the right thing by sticking to a routine and making sure she goes to school


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