School can sometimes be very stressful. It acts as a miniature society where all children spend a lot of time together between four walls. Education is not the only thing your little one is learning in school... they are also learning how to live in society! A day in school holds its fair share of changes and adjustments, which can sometimes be stressful for your child. Remember, it is your responsibility, as a parent, to keep your eyes wide open and notice when your child is feeling negative stress about school. If this is the case, you must intervene in order to prevent your child from truly developing school phobia!
Manifestations of stress or anxiety
- Crying every morning;
- Your child starts feeling pain before it is time to leave for school and stretches time in order to avoid leaving;
- Wetting the bed or having trouble falling asleep;
- Your child checks their backpack thirty-six times;
- Demonstrates a general lack of interest towards school;
- Makes up excuses or reasons not to go to school;
- Refuses to do homework
- Holds a very negative point of view on going to school.
Identify the source of the problem
As a parent, it is your job to figure out what is making your child uncomfortable at school. Are they being bullied? Were they recently involved in an unsettling event at school or at home? Is your child going through an uneasy situation (illness of another child, parents separating, new father-in-law, a new baby, etc.)?
Try to get an overall picture of what your child is going through at the moment. Afterward, try to validate changes that you have noticed in your little one. By knowing the cause of the problem, you can start working on finding solutions to fix the situation.
Questions to ask yourself
- Is your child going through the same anxiety as every other child?
- Is your child able to explain what they are feeling?
- When did this situation begin?
Your child may find it difficult to blend in with their new classroom or they could be going through a student-teacher conflict. If your child has been psychologically assaulted, it is important to contact the school and collaborate with them to react without delay. Try figuring out the source of the problem. Be very observant of your child and have an honest and open conversation with them but make sure that your questions do not sound like an interrogatory. If your child feels attacked, they will avoid the subject.
The importance of putting feelings into words...
Not feeling like going to school is normal. Most adults do not feel like going to work every single morning. However, it is important that your child is able to tag their emotions and to calmly speak about these feelings.
“I often speak to my daughter about the way I felt when I went to school. I talk to her about the anxiety I felt before an exam or the friends I had and even the arguments I went through with them. By doing so, I am letting her know that school makes us go through a whole range of emotions. As a result, my daughter feels like she is allowed to sometimes feel anxious or to find some schooldays less interesting, but she is also able to identify what she loves about school.” Patricia, mother of Flavie, 8 years old.