Guest post by Cindi Reynolds
“Help! My child doesn’t want to go to school. I don’t know what to do.”
As an elementary school counselor, I often get calls or emails from parents who are concerned when their child doesn’t want to go to school. Here are nine tips that I’ve found are helpful for parents trying to help their child reduce anxieties about school.
- First of all, listen and ask questions. Try to determine why she doesn’t want to go to school. Is there some big concern or underlying anxiety related to school?
- Let your child know about times that you were anxious and what you did to overcome it.
- Help your child build her own life history and mental strength by reminding her of other times she was anxious and she got through it.
- Listen to the concerns, but help her avoid getting “stuck” there. Coach her to focus on the positives. Rather than tell her yourself, ask her to list the positives. If she can not come up with any, you may need to prod her by asking, “Who did you enjoy spending time with today?” or “What was something funny / interesting that happened today?”
- If this is a back-to-school concern, take her for a visit to the school playground before the school year starts. See if there is an opportunity to meet the teacher or visit the classroom.
- Help your child connect socially outside of school. This can be as simple as inviting a friend over to your home. Be intentional about helping your child build friendships with children in her class.
- Pray with your child. Remind her that being brave doesn’t mean never being afraid—it means doing what you need to do even when you are afraid. Remind her that God is with her.
- Monitor your own anxiety and don’t let it rub off on your child. I see this often in a school setting. Many times the parents are more anxious than the child but the child sees this and it increases her anxiety as well.
- Keep in contact with your child’s teacher or school counselor. It helps them to know what is going on so they can be of support to your child, and they can often reassure you too.
It’s normal for children to feel occasional anxiety about going to school. As a parent, you play an important part in helping your child feel a sense of confidence about handling the challenges school life hands out. These tips will help you start the conversation and build empowerment for your child.
About the author: Cindi Reynolds is currently an elementary school counselor working with children grades K- 6 in Grand Rapids, MI. She is an experienced elementary teacher having taught in San Antonio, TX, Lake Forest, IL, Plano, TX, Las Vegas, NV and Grand Rapids, MI. She and her husband have one teenage daughter. Cindi loves helping children learn to be strong, kind, and respectful people.