July 02, 2015

Q: My 5 year old started school two weeks ago and cries everyday before going to school and says she doesn't want to go and her tummy hurts. She stays in school for a full day and sometimes cries there too. How can I help her to learn that she must go to school and she will be okay?

A: "I hate kindergarten!" Is a common complaint at this time of year. Your 5-year-old really isn't a "big kid" yet -- just more of a glorified preschooler, developmentally speaking. So a full day of school is a lot to ask of our kiddos. But she must adjust -- and you can help her. Explain that she needs to go to school -- don't entertain her staying home regularly -- but do give her a day or afternoon off, when you can. And make sure she has enough sleep (most need at least 10 hours at this age) -- and a healthy diet to give her energy at school. Ask her pediatrician about the tummy troubles -- perhaps she could get up a bit earlier to have enough time to go potty before she leaves for school? And finally, stay in daily contact with her teacher to find what works to keep your daughter supported in making this big adjustment. Teachers have lots of ideas -- but need to know you care and are willing to work together. Good luck!

Answered by Dr. Heather Wittenberg


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