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My child refuses to go back to school, what to do?

3 min


If you’re looking forward to having a little bit of a break knowing your child at school, your child seems less outgoing. Cry, tears, arguments … Hard to broach the subject. He categorically refuses to return to class. How to talk to him? Psy’s tips.

Back to school is approaching, yet your dear blonde head refuses to broach the subject. It’s decided (or rather Leo decided): he will not go back to school. Caprice or real anxiety? We take stock with Jean Epstein, psycho-sociologist and Alain Sotto psychopedagogy practitioner and author of the book What’s going on in the mind of your child (Ixelles editions).

Why does my child not want to go back to school?

There are various reasons that can explain an animosity towards the school. In some cases, it is a misunderstanding. Your toddler tells you that he has been to school the day before so he does not need to go back again.

He understood that he had to go to school “that day”, the first day of school, which you talked to so much about. For him, it is a fait accompli. The latter may not have managed to find his place and get used to school. He retains only constraints and does not feel familiar with these days so different from those he has known. He may have felt lost by the many schoolchildren or intimidated by the teacher. Your child prefers to stay at home, concluded Alain Sotto.

In other cases, your child was not against the idea of going to class. Only, that’s it, the first day of school was a fiasco. This case is the most common. The child could not bear the separation from his mother, even for a day. He feels a sense of abandonment.

The specialists recommend several attitudes to adopt, depending on the situation of your child.

Do not carry a negative image of the school

According to the specialist, parents must be careful not to convey a negative image of the school and what it represents. This will lead the child to apprehend, well before setting foot. One thinks in particular of certain threatening speeches already heard from parents: “If you are bad, we take you to school …! “. These kinds of threats will destabilize the child.

Jean Epstein advises to avoid denigrating the teacher in front of your child: the latter is a model and a reference for your little one. If your child refuses to return to class after a bad first contact with a teacher, do not hesitate to go to meet him. Make an appointment with your teacher and have your child attend. It will be about restoring confidence.

On the contrary, it is also useless to hold a praiseworthy speech about the school and its stake for the future of your child. In kindergarten, schoolchildren are too young to understand and this will only accentuate their refusal.

Offer him a program he likes for school

If there has been a misunderstanding, your child will not understand that the school will be his everyday life. He thought it must be a day only. On the second day of school, take your little one for a walk in a park (or other places where you usually meet children). Make him notice that the other children are not there: “Here, there is nobody in the square except babies. Nobody on the slide and nobody on the swing … But where are they? “. Wait for recess time to get closer to school. Your child will hear the happy screams of school children. “That’s where they are all! You will exclaim. And if you joined them this afternoon? After that, I’ll go get you and we’ll go to Grandma’s. ” By providing an activity or program that your child likes for his or her outing, he or she may have more desire.

Daddy to the rescue!

If your child feels abandoned, it may be because you, Mom, have trouble separating from him. Your child feels your sadness and will be sad too. It’s time for Dad to get into action! In this case, specialists recommend that the child take the child himself to class on the second day. The dad can, in agreement with the teacher, stay a little while in the class so that the child feels at ease. Once he’s immersed in an activity, daddy can leave. Just before leaving, do not hesitate to congratulate or encourage him, just with a look, a smile or a little word. You will meet him at the end of the day.

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Do not waste time

Despite everything that happened on this first day of school, the child must return. In the same way that after a fall on horseback where it is necessary to go up immediately, your child does not have to crystallize the refusal. Waiting before bringing him back to class would only accentuate anxiety. Talk to the teacher and ask if he or she has noticed anything special about the behavior of your little schoolboy. Perhaps he is withdrawn? Maybe another child was hostile towards him? At this age, children do not tell what they think is “past”. A child may also have forgotten the very cause of their fear. He then retains only the feeling of uneasiness and will associate with school, hence his refusal to return.


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