Helping Your Child Deal with the Fear of Going to School
If you have kids, you have probably dealt with this scenario before. You get your child up for school and 10 minutes before the school bus arrives they tell you that their stomach hurts. You begin to feel bad for them so you let them stay home sick. Suddenly, an hour later they are magically feeling better. While your child may have just pulled a fast one on you because they wanted a day off, there is a percentage of school kids that have a real fear of going to school. Refusing to go to school is much more than just wanting a day off from school.
Recognizing the signs- Children that are afraid to go to school will complain of physical symptoms shortly before they have to leave for school. If they do go to school, they will repeatedly visit the school nurse. You will notice that if they are allowed to stay home, their mysterious symptoms will quickly disappear. Common physical symptoms include upset stomach, diarrhea, headache or nausea.
Discover the reasons- There may be several reasons that your child is afraid to go to school such as starting a new school, divorce between parents or loss of a close family member. Your child may also believe that something bad will happen to one of their parents while they are at school or they may be afraid of someone at school.
What you can do to help- If your child has a real fear of going to school, you will need to have a comprehensive evaluation done by a mental health professional. This evaluation will help determine why your child has such a fear and will also help figure out the best course of treatment. However, it is important that you ensure your child stays in school since keeping them home will only reinforce their anxiety instead of alleviating it. There are other things you can do as a parent as well to help them. Be sure you are there for your child so they can talk to you about their feelings and fears. Also, you want to meet with your child’s teacher and school guidance counselor for extra support.