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Tymeister
Tymeister asks:
Q:

When a 5-6 year old refuses to go to school, by throwing a fit every day, what does a parent do?

My Grandson throws a fit every day, and wont have anything to do with going to school. He was removed from Kindergarten last year because of his actions not want to get on the bus or go to school. Please help.
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Aug 30, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Just as children have different personalities, they also develop differently, depending on their unique internal genetic clocks and the environment they are in.  The main types of development are physical, cognitive (mental), social and emotional.  All of these are equally important but some are more noticeable such as physical.  

How a child relates to others and gets along in the world is social and emotional development.  These may include feelings of well-being, attachment, and independence.  Just because a child is 5-6 does not mean that he is developed at the same level as other 5-6 year olds.  Remember they all develop differently.

If your child does not relate to the other students or teachers, or feel safe and able to function away from a parent, this may be the cause of his unwillingness to go to school happily.

There is one powerful and simple answer to helping your child develop and that is to spend time with him.  Playing school at home on the weekends will help him feel more comfortable in that environment.  Give instructions like his teacher would give.  Require him to stand in line and walk to another part of the house with hands to himself, just as he would in the school setting.  Make sure he knows his colors, numbers, letters and shapes.  Take a break and play outside for a certain amount of time.  At the end of that time, blow a whistle or ring a bell indicating "recess" is over.  Have him line up, go into the house and wash his hands before the next game.  You could even go to the school grounds and practice getting on a bus and sitting down in a seat.  Talk about what you see on the way to school.  Get him to play along, make it fun.  Play on the playground at school to put him at ease in that setting also.

Going to school is like his "job".  He needs some training to feel prepared to do the job.  

We always suggest consulting with his pediatrician if the behavior continues.  They typically have vast experience with all kinds of "kid problems".

This can be a pleasant experience for him and for the parent.  

Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000

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Additional Answers (10)

kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hi Tymeister,

I'm sure this is a really frustrating (and heartbreaking!) situation to be part of. Hopefully someone with more expertise will also answer. I'm sure there are specific things to think about (like if he had a traumatic experience at school that he's still upset about) or if maybe he has a social, emotional, or academic issue that are not being addressed well at school which are making him feel frustrated or scared. I think sometimes kids behave in this way to try to tell us about something that's going on in their lives that they can't express in words.

We went through something similar with our four year old in preschool last year. He was completely fine and then all of a sudden he started to act a little sad at drop off and by the end of a week he was coming completely undone in the morning and his teachers said he would cry hysterically for more than 30 minutes after I left! In working with his teachers, we ended up realizing that he was just in school too much and his way of telling me that was to get upset when I left him there. At that time, he was in full day preschool (9-3) four days a week. We switched him to half days (9-12:30) and he got MUCH happier.

We still had to do a little work with him to make drop off smoother (we made a chart that he got to leave in his cubby at school. Every day that he went through drop off without crying he earned a sticker and when he got five stickers on his chart he got to go out to lunch with me after school). In that way we addressed the root problem and the resulting symptoms. After two weeks he was right back to his normal happy self at drop off and we could stop using the chart (and stop worrying so much about him!).

So I think you (or your grandson's parents) should probably meet with his teacher to see if something has happened or is going on with him at school. Then once you address that issue, you can start to work on how to get him happy and excited about school again.

Good Luck!
> 60 days ago

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B!lly
B!lly , Parent writes:
0. Reserve: find a quiet time and place when he's at his most alert and rested.
1. Acknowledge: Ask him to tell you about it, in his own words.  Just listen.  Don't say anything for at least 15 seconds after he stops.  When he's done, be clear that you understand he doesn't want to go to school, and that it must be difficult for him. Tell him you are glad that he knows he can always talk to you about anything that bothers him.
2. Commiserate: relate a story about when you didn't want to go to school. Confirm he understand that nearly all kids have a time when they don't want to go to school.
3. Identify:  is the underlying cause grounded in discipline/motivation or something else? make as few assumptions as possible, but ask some opening questions and then follow where the answers go.  For example:
- first, ask him why he thinks he needs to go to school
- when did you first start feeling this way?
- did anyone say or do something that really bothered/hurt you?
- do you think you are missing out on something when you are at school (e.g., the younger brother gets to play with toys and go on trips when he's at school)?
- etc.
4. Affirm: Change the tone to the positive.  Example: ask him what are the 5 things he likes best about school, and talk and ask questions about those too.
5. Plan: make a plan to talk about school with him again at a future time, to see if things are improving.
6. Teacher: talk with the teacher to get a fuller view
> 60 days ago

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starstuff
starstuff writes:
Hi
My own son has this problem and myself, the teahers and psychologist who is working with us are all quite stumped as to what the problem is (hence me searching online for help!).
I gave up my job a few months back to be at home with him more and have more time to spend with him which has calmed his aggression down quite a bit but it's flaring up again now (obviously the novelty has worn off now!)
I have found that being quite firm and working closely with the teachers helps even if it's just the support I feel myself. I also use stickers and little notes to reward him when he has done something good - he then gets to stick the little note into a notebook. I try to get him to challenge himself to do tasks at home and have printed off worksheets to work on with him which I hope shows him that learning is fun and gives him a sense of achievement.
He has no learning difficulties and is really very bright but seems to struggle with social activities and his peers (which is made worse everytime his friends see him kicking and screaming and refusing to go into school). We have had the occasional day where he has been really keen and wanted to be the first in line at school so I'm going to try and focus on that aspect a bit more to see if it helps.
I hope your grandson comes through this and if I discover any other tactics which work for us I'll be sure to post them - I'm at the stage where i'll really try anything out!
I have included a link to the website where I got the little notes - if you look in the free scrabook journals section, there are loads of really cute images which my son loves - especially the Koalas.
Good luck
> 60 days ago

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Nicole780
Nicole780 writes:
What you do is talk to his teacher .Talk to your grandson and just be like ; if you go i got something special for you after school and before he gets home go buy him a good toy . Tell him if he goes then he will fill good after he comes home.
> 60 days ago

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Lokijar
Lokijar writes:
My mother had this problem with my younger brother. She listened to why he did not want to attend school. Turns out he missed her during the day. She pasted a picture in his lunch box and started a weekly award system. She purchased him his very own calendar and each school day that he got dressed and ready for school and didn't make a fuss, she let him paste one of those shiny star stickers on that date. Every week where he got straight stars, she put a dollar in his bank. At the end of the month she let him take the money and go to the dollar store to pick something out for himself.
> 60 days ago

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lynellen
lynellen writes:
Some children have difficulties dealing with the sensory aspects of an activity or their environment.  They may be overly sensitive to other people bumping into them, the texture of their clothes and even of the food they eat.  Noise and bright lights may bother them excessively. Their nervous system seems to have difficulty balancing what is o.k. and what is not during the day.  This causes them to be in a constant state of alarm.  They can either "withdraw" or become aggressive to protect themselves.  Kindergarten classes have alot of things to look at, unfamiliar children, unfamiiar routines that can result in increased anxiety with children who have these issues (sensory processing disorder).  You may want to have your pediatrician or an occupational therapist check your grandson to insure he does not have sensory issues.  You can see more info at www.spdfoundation.com.
Resources:
> 60 days ago

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HeatherPeterson124
HeatherPete... writes:
Why not enroll your child into a online school? Your kid is not required to wear uniform everyday. She can wear whatever outfit she wants. Online education is more convenient and more efficient.

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t3lemberger6
t3lemberger6 writes:
Either one, your grandson is seeking needed attention; or two, if you know it isn't the first, tell him "if you continue throwing a fit, I will call the liason officer and they will pick you up and take you to school in a police car." Stay firm and follow through.
> 60 days ago

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ahollister
ahollister writes:
You have to talk to your child. What is it about school that the child does not like. Maybe he or she has had an experience that was negative or frightening to the child.  If you are unable to find out you should have someone else talk to your child. Remember you are the parent and have to help your child be successful.
> 60 days ago

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avidal
avidal writes:
CONSIDER HOMESCHOOL FOR K. A YEAR OF LEARNING AT HOME MAY MAKE CHILD READY FOR LEARNING OUTSIDE THE HOME.THERE ARE SO MANY WONDERFUL HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUMS.
> 60 days ago

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