I Don’t Want to Go to School, Mama

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Sounds familiar? I’m sure you may have heard this objection before, either from your own child or from your distraught friends who may have shared their woes and blues about their problem – their child’s refusal to go back to school.

You may be wondering why children utter the unwelcome infamous line “Mama, I don’t want to go to school,” don’t you?

Well, in a child’s preschool life, there will always be a point in time when he’ll cry, “Mama, I don’t want to go to school!” either during the early part, middle or towards the end of the school year. I know that this strong reaction from preschoolers is most dreaded by all moms. Since this means – more clinging around your legs, sudden stomach or head ache, moodiness, non-compliance and temper tantrums become your everyday struggle.

no school mama

Not to mention that this also purports that you kiss your self-pampering days, coffee meetings with friends, doing household chores goodbye. What a nightmare!

But if you come to think of it, why do children really refuse to go back to school?

As a Child Developmentalist for 23 years, here’s my two cents worth.

A child who exhibits any of the behaviors mentioned, is showing stress signals caused by a period of anxiety – a stage considered normal for preschoolers entering kindergarten schools. However, a child in crisis at this phase must not be ignored but be well attended to. Moms and Dads should look into the following possible reasons why these behaviors occur.

  • Spending time at home longer than necessary: When the child is ill, of course, it’s inevitable to keep your child at home until he feels much better. However, prolonged staying at home has its downside too. Your child adapts to new routine and gets comfortable with doing activities with mom at home. Naturally, your child will refuse to go back to school as he got used to his daily home routine. By the same token, refusal to go to school also manifests during long school breaks such as Christmas and Spring Holiday due to the same reason.
  • Longing for Feeling of Belongingness: During the beginning of school year, meeting new faces can be intimidating for a young child. This can elicit reasonable fear to be in the midst of children whom your child does not even know. Developing friendship and connection with other children in class takes time and is a gradual process. When your child has not reached that stage yet, he may feel alienated and refuse to go to school. However, let me give you a word of caveat, once your child gains friendship and camaraderie among his peers, you will be confronted with questions like how come there’s no school during weekends – now, that’s a different story!
  • Changes in family dynamics: Your child may exhibit some kind of maladjustment behavior when there are changes in your family set up such as moving to a new place, travelling to a far place for a long period of time, divorce, death of a family member or a sick member. Considering all these, he may show signs of distress but it should definitively be temporary.
  • Child’s physical condition: When your child is sick with the slightest fever or just coming down with a flu, colds and coughs, these factors are a good yardstick why your child cries without any apparent reason or hesitant to go to school.
  • Remember that preschool children cannot articulate how they feel exactly. Don’t expect them to say “Mom, I think I’m coming down with a flu, can’t go to school today. Can you please give me a paracetamol?” Try to check him out before he gets out of the car or better yet, you may ask your child’s teacher to do that as well.

    To beat the “Mama I don’t want to go to school” syndrome, here are a few tips that could make you live your life easier, stress and worry free when dealing with your preschool child.

  • Don’t keep your child at home longer than necessary. The longer your child stays at home, the harder it is for him to return back to school.
  • Check your child from time to time. Symptoms like runny nose, congested nose and slight increase of temperature, watery eyes, diarrhea, weakness can make your child lose interest in going to school.
  • Collaborate with your child’s school teacher. Present your situation with the school professionals. They can evaluate your situation objectively and give you some helpful advice on how to resolve the problem. Don’t forget that it will benefit you more if you do not withhold any vital information about your current family set-up.
  • Inquire about some potential bullying problems. Bullying not only in the form of aggression but includes teasing, humiliation, intimidation or name calling, and may result in a socially withdrawn, anxious and depressed child. A child experiencing bullying would not find school appealing.
  • Every parent beset with the challenge of a preschool child refusing to go to school undergoes a nerve-wracking experience that makes you feel highly agitated, scared and on the brink of losing your mind. If a refusal to go to school situation arises at any point, remember to stay calm and assess the situation thoroughly. Investigate the real cause of the behavior. More importantly, never give up school just because your child doesn’t want to go. If you concede, your child wins the battle over you. Be patient and determined and keep on trying. To make yourself convince your child go to school, always remember what Peter Kline, an American Professor said, “School is the best party in town.”

    If you don’t go, you’ll miss the fun.

    Joy Filipovic is a non-fiction book writer who has a passion for reading and writing, and teaches English to preschoolers.