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koproducts
koproducts asks:
Q:

My 6 year old cries when she has to go to school.

In the recent month my 6 year old daughter has thrown tantrums when its time to go to school. She cries and refuses to go. The only change she has had is a seat change. The teacher thought it would be better to set her with the other kids on the other side of the room because they were falling behind and my daughter is very smart in the class. It has bothered her so much that now she has stopped eating her lunch. I don't think this is normal. do you thing something traumatic happened at school?
In Topics: School and Academics, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Nov 19, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Dear Koproducts,

Thanks for posting your question to this forum. There are so many parents who struggle with children who are refusing to go to school, and I know that they will benefit from seeing your question and the responses posted to it.

You didn't mention any prior history of troubles with your daughter and school attendance, so I am assuming that the tantrums are a pretty new behavior. If so, it sounds as though a recent change or event has unsettled your daughter to the extent that she is feeling uncomfortable at school. Many children who are overwhelmed emotionally will go into "lock down", freezing up, refusing certain things, such as school when they cannot manage. For young children, something as small as a seat change could disrupt them so that they feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. So, it may not be a "traumatic" event that precipitated the tantrums; she may just be struggling with a change that she doesn't feel able to handle.

I suggest that you make time after school or on the weekend (when school is not a charged emotional issue) to check in with your daughter. Ask her about what she is thinking and feeling in relation to going to school in the morning. Say something like, "I was thinking about how mornings before school have been kind of hard for us, and I really want to understand what is happening, so we can help each other to make things go more smoothly." You might add that she seemed to enjoy going to school before and it seems that something has changed and you hope that the two of you solve this puzzle together. Keep your tone inquisitive and thoughtful. With more information about what is going through her head, you can make some plans together to ease the stress.

If, for some reason, she  does not want to speak with you about it, invite her to talk with the school counselor. Let her know that it isn't an option to miss school, so it is important to work with someone to problem solve this dilemma.
 
If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

L. Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Child Psychologist

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