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Apgh
Apgh asks:
Q:

6 yr old daughter refuses to go to school everyday. Its a  painful ritual every morning.

My daughter is a bright 6 yr old. There are no serious behavior issues apart from refusing to go to school. She is ahead in math and reading skills (2 languages). She complains about school not being very interesting, but am not sure this is enough for all the tears in the morning. The current school is new, but the last 3 months at Montessori were similar. Though she enjoyed Montessori before and liked going to school everyday.
Is this anxiety related? Thanks.
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Jun 29, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

It's great that you are looking into reasons other than academics or being bored as to why your daughter doesn't want to go to school. You sound like a very caring mother.  Anxiety certainly is a possibility. Your daughter could also be having a hard time adjusting socially to her new school. Did you move to a new city, or just a new school? If you moved to a new city there is a lot of adjusting your daughter could be going through and it could just be surfacing at school.

Since your daughter also stated that school isn't very interesting she could be excelling in her school work and simply getting bored. It sounds like your daughter also came from Montessori classroom style, and sometimes in that type of educational environment kids are more likely to get lots of one-on-one attention. It sounds like your child is now in a traditional type of classroom. Maybe she is having trouble adjusting to the loss of this one-on-one attention. It may be a good idea to talk to her teacher to ask for effective techniques that work during the school day to help keep your daughter calm.

It's always a good idea to sit down and talk to your daughter about any feelings she may be having. Ask her if any of the above mentioned issues are causing her to not want to go to school. She may be hesitant at first to talk about it. If that's the case ask again later that day or the next day. If several attempts are ineffective, ask the school counselor to speak with her about what's going on. Sometimes kids are afraid to talk to their parents because they think they will get in trouble, but are more willing to talk to a different trusted adult. If she doesn't want to talk to the school counselor is it possible to have a trusted relative speak to her such as an aunt or grandmother?

Please feel free to call our toll-free hotline if you want to talk to one of our crisis counselors regarding your daughter.

Best Wishes,
Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000

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Additional Answers (3)

kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hi Apgh,

Changing schools is pretty stressful for kids even at that young age and they don't always have the easiest time putting words around that stress. I think a good first step would be taking some time to talk to your daughter when nothing else is going on. Maybe in the car or at the breakfast table or something. You could just start by saying something like "It must be kind of hard to be at a new school with all new rules and new friends and new teachers. Can you talk to me about how things are going at your new school?" Or maybe "I've noticed that you're having a hard time going to school recently. That makes me sad because you used to love to go to school. Can you tell me why you're having a hard time so we can work together to make things better for you?" And then just listen.

I'd pair that conversation with a conference with her teacher. Maybe the teacher will have more insight into how she's adjusting to the new school and might have suggestions for how you could help support her (maybe through play dates with kids in her class or something like that). You might talk to the teacher about the fact that your daughter doesn't feel challenged in class. The teacher may be able to offer your daughter different assignments or activities that will be more interesting to her.

Hopefully time will help smooth this over and soon your daughter will be back to loving school.

Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
You mentioned  2 languages and her age is only 6. I think it may be a combination of this along with the stress of school. Montessori is also a very unique style of learning. Often, the teachers are just facilitators watching the children explore and learn. If she is at a new environment non-Montessori, then there is a good chance she is trying to adjust to the change. In a traditional school, the children are not allowed to move and learn as freely in comparison to the Montessori method. In addition, this is probably why she is so ahead in her skills. She could be very frustrated with the new school and its practices. Finally, take an honest look at your life. Are you stressed? Have you had any recent changes in your life? Children around this age are very frightened by monsters and they usually come on as a result of change. Good Luck :)
> 60 days ago

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socialworker
socialworker writes:
I think you need to identify what is behind the anxiety. It sounds like she is afraid of something. Try reading "Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows: Helping Children Adjust to Change" with your child.The story centers on Harry,a caterpillar that has a fantastic life full of games, friends, school and leaf eating. He is stunned when, one day at caterpillar school, he learns that he is expected to  build a chrysalis and become a butterfly. Harry vows to remain a caterpillar forever, as his friends build their chrysalises and move on.  Eventually, Harry  learns to accept change as a necessary part of life, and  joins his friends as a butterfly. There are tips in the back of the book to help parents and educators use the story as a vehicle to help kids talk about their feelings about change, and teach them coping strategies to manage their anxiety.
> 60 days ago

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