Class, Dismissed: When Kids Hate School

More Tips to Tackle Classroom Complaints

What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School
What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School

Fix it Fast
Once you've figured out why your kid is reluctant to go to school, you can move on to finding a solution. If it's a friendship issue, empathize with his feelings, and share one of your own elementary-school experiences. But don't be judgmental, and resist calling the friend's parents. "Sometimes it just helps for children to confide in someone," says Dr. Kearney. If bullies are to blame, insist that your child alert his teacher, and follow up with the teacher or the principal to let her know what's going on.

You should also involve the teacher if you suspect that academics are dampening your child's enthusiasm. A learning delay -- an inability to grasp certain subjects quite as quickly as other kids do -- may be to blame for many academic problems at this age. Kids pick up reading and math at different speeds, and tutoring or remedial work can often close the gap, says Dr. Branstetter.

In a situation where you feel the teacher is part of the problem, mention your child's feelings about school. But explain that you're not being critical; you just want to make sure things are okay, suggests Rachel Klein, Ph.D., director of the Anita Saltz Institute for Anxiety and Mood Disorders at New York University's Child Study Center. Dr. Klein also recommends talking to classmates' parents to see whether other children have similar issues. If talking with the teacher doesn't produce results, involve the principal.

Call the Pros
If you've ruled out social, academic, and classroom concerns but your child still resists going, talk to a counselor. Plenty of kids come down with "school stinks" syndrome, Dr. Kearney says, "but if it lasts more than two weeks or starts to seriously disrupt your day-to-day life, that's when you know you need help." A school counselor or another mental-health professional (your child's school or pediatrician can often direct you to one) can determine if anxiety or depression could be a factor.

Originally published in the April 2012 issue of Parents magazine.

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