Bach Flower Advice

What can you do if your kid doesn't want to go back to school?

What can you do if your kid doesn't want to go back to school

Are you in a situation where your child has a tantrum at the mere mention of school? Does your child comedown with a mysterious illness right before he or she is due at school? Are you dreading the start of the new term? If any of these apply to you then your child may have a case of what Americans call, ‘school refusal’.

School refusal is not the same thing as truancy. Children who truant are choosing to be wilfully disobedient and deceptive, they set out in the morning as though they are heading for school, but they never arrive. Children who express their anxiety about school through illness, crying or clinging to you, are generally well-behaved and more compliant. With a truant, a parent will not know where their child is, but with a child refusing school, the parent will know exactly where they are. More often than not, a child who is refusing to go to school has anxiety issues.

Why is your child refusing to go to school?

Your child may well be experiencing issues at school with loneliness or bullying, but equally they may be finding the work hard going. This is especially true at the start of each school year when the work suddenly becomes progressively more difficult. Obeying rules, learning new things, practicing new skills – it all takes a great deal of energy. If your child has just had a long holiday where they indulged their favourite pastimes, then they will definitely find school work hard!

In addition to this, they have been released from the security of being at home with their parents and siblings and are suddenly out in the big world with people who are new to them. This can be scary and make your child feel vulnerable. They may even worry that something will happen to you, or their pets or brothers and sisters, while they are away at school.

What can you do if your kid doesn't want to go back to school?

Rule out genuine illness. If your child is complaining of physical symptoms, take him or her seriously and take her to the doctor. Don’t assume there is nothing wrong and your child is acting up.

Have a rule in your house of what constitutes an illness that a child can stay away from school for. Fevers and flu etc., but not colds, headaches or stomach aches. If they are genuinely ill the school will quickly contact you to remove the child from the premises.

Make sure your child is getting enough sleep. Children between the ages of six and 12 need nine to 12 hours a night. Your child should be in bed with any electronics and gadgets off when you say, not when they choose.

Communicate. Talk to your child about what is bothering him or her and try and get to the bottom of any specific issues. You need to outline a plan that includes returning to school and be clear that this is what will happen, but at the same time pay close attention to what your child says. Remember that sometimes your child will not be able to articulate exactly what is wrong, but you need to support them as much as you can.

Look for clues as to what the problem is. This is especially important if your child can’t communicate with you clearly about what is wrong.

No lectures! There’s no point in having a lengthy argument. It’s just possible that your child is craving attention and if he or she gets it in this way, then there will be repeat occurrences of school refusal behaviour.

Talk to the teacher. Quite often teachers are the best placed to know what is going on with your child in school. You will also want to alert the school to the fact that there is a problem, and that as a concerned parent you want to get to the bottom of it.

The reverse of this is not to be too overbearing. Don’t make an assumption that it is the teacher or the school that is at fault. There may be instances of bullying that the school have not picked up on, but by working with them, you will highlight the issues and they should be grateful.

Being at home is not the answer. Let your child know that if they do stay away from school it will not be play time for them. If they are ill, they need to be in bed and resting, with no TV or games, and no extra attention from you. Staying away from school (outside of the holidays) should not be something that appeals to your child.

If the anxiety is so extreme that your child must stay away from school, create a learning environment at home. They will need to sit at a desk and work. If they are not ill, they should not be allowed to sleep. If you are a working parent, try enlisting a non-working or retired friend, neighbour or relative to help you with this.

Be calm, supportive and firm.

Created by Tom Vermeersch

Tom Vermeersch

Tom Vermeersch is a certified Psychologist and Bach flower expert with more than 30 years of experience.

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What can you do if your kid doesn't want to go back to school?

What can you do if your kid doesn't want to go back to school?
What can you do if your kid doesn't want to go back to school

Are you in a situation where your child has a tantrum at the mere mention of school? Does your child comedown with a mysterious illness right before he or she is due at school? Are you dreading the start of the new term? If any of these apply to you then your child may have a case of what Americans call, ‘school refusal’.

School refusal is not the same thing as truancy. Children who truant are choosing to be wilfully disobedient and deceptive, they set out in the morning as though they are heading for school, but they never arrive. Children who express their anxiety about school through illness, crying or clinging to you, are generally well-behaved and more compliant. With a truant, a parent will not know where their child is, but with a child refusing school, the parent will know exactly where they are. More often than not, a child who is refusing to go to school has anxiety issues.

Why is your child refusing to go to school?

Your child may well be experiencing issues at school with loneliness or bullying, but equally they may be finding the work hard going. This is especially true at the start of each school year when the work suddenly becomes progressively more difficult. Obeying rules, learning new things, practicing new skills – it all takes a great deal of energy. If your child has just had a long holiday where they indulged their favourite pastimes, then they will definitely find school work hard!

In addition to this, they have been released from the security of being at home with their parents and siblings and are suddenly out in the big world with people who are new to them. This can be scary and make your child feel vulnerable. They may even worry that something will happen to you, or their pets or brothers and sisters, while they are away at school.

What can you do if your kid doesn't want to go back to school?

Rule out genuine illness. If your child is complaining of physical symptoms, take him or her seriously and take her to the doctor. Don’t assume there is nothing wrong and your child is acting up.

Have a rule in your house of what constitutes an illness that a child can stay away from school for. Fevers and flu etc., but not colds, headaches or stomach aches. If they are genuinely ill the school will quickly contact you to remove the child from the premises.

Make sure your child is getting enough sleep. Children between the ages of six and 12 need nine to 12 hours a night. Your child should be in bed with any electronics and gadgets off when you say, not when they choose.

Communicate. Talk to your child about what is bothering him or her and try and get to the bottom of any specific issues. You need to outline a plan that includes returning to school and be clear that this is what will happen, but at the same time pay close attention to what your child says. Remember that sometimes your child will not be able to articulate exactly what is wrong, but you need to support them as much as you can.

Look for clues as to what the problem is. This is especially important if your child can’t communicate with you clearly about what is wrong.

No lectures! There’s no point in having a lengthy argument. It’s just possible that your child is craving attention and if he or she gets it in this way, then there will be repeat occurrences of school refusal behaviour.

Talk to the teacher. Quite often teachers are the best placed to know what is going on with your child in school. You will also want to alert the school to the fact that there is a problem, and that as a concerned parent you want to get to the bottom of it.

The reverse of this is not to be too overbearing. Don’t make an assumption that it is the teacher or the school that is at fault. There may be instances of bullying that the school have not picked up on, but by working with them, you will highlight the issues and they should be grateful.

Being at home is not the answer. Let your child know that if they do stay away from school it will not be play time for them. If they are ill, they need to be in bed and resting, with no TV or games, and no extra attention from you. Staying away from school (outside of the holidays) should not be something that appeals to your child.

If the anxiety is so extreme that your child must stay away from school, create a learning environment at home. They will need to sit at a desk and work. If they are not ill, they should not be allowed to sleep. If you are a working parent, try enlisting a non-working or retired friend, neighbour or relative to help you with this.

Be calm, supportive and firm.


Marie Pure

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Read the complete article

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Sometimes it’s hard to notice when we've become trapped in familiar routines. Take our quiz to find out if you’re stuck in a rut and what you can do about it.

Read the complete article

Hiding a depression find out if someone you know - or you yourself! - is doing this

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It's not always easy to tell if someone has depression. While some signs such as sadness, pessimism and withdrawal from social interaction are easy to recognise, other symptoms may be less obvious. And some people are very good at hiding their depression - even from themselves!

Read the complete article

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Children's imaginations know no limits and their dreams are a mix of hopes and fantasies, the real and the magical, the impossible and the achievable.

Read the complete article

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Irrational anxieties can seem overwhelming, affecting every aspect of your life. Learn how to beat your fears and worries and take back control.

Read the complete article

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Did you get stuck in the past?

Do you find yourself often thinking about your past? Do you wish you could turn back the clock to days gone by or things as they were before covid disrupted the world?

Read the complete article

How to be less judgemental of others (and yourself!)

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Do you feel you’re always criticising and judging everyone, yourself included? Do you feel bad about it afterwards? You’re certainly not alone! Read on to discover how you can judge less and start to accept things the way they are.

Read the complete article

Why you're not the best

Why you're not the best

What are your aims in life? Do you plan to be rich, to be a top footballer, to be a good parent, or to become Prime Minister? However efficiently you plan your life, sooner or later you are going to come up against obstacles to achieving your goals.

Read the complete article

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Choose for your happiness!

Being happy is something everybody strives for, but unfortunately there are a lot of people who go through life unhappily. A lot of people take life how it is.

Read the complete article

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Feeling blue?

Feeling blue? You're not alone! We all feel sad at times; it's a normal human emotion. Sometimes, it's clear to see what has triggered our depression. Common reasons for feeling sad include bereavement, the end of a relationship, losing your job or money problems. But it's not always so clearcut.

Read the complete article

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