What to Do when Your Child Doesn’t Want to Go to School

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Child doesn't want to go to schoolSchool is supposed to be an exciting change. Making new friends, going to a new campus, being a “big kid.” Or so you thought.

It’s been a few weeks, and still your child doesn’t want to go to school. She cries every morning wanting to stay home or to go back to her old school. Even her cool new backpack isn’t convincing her to go willingly.

You can’t seem to figure it out. Sure, she cried at her old school and daycare, but settled in after a few days. And it doesn’t help when other kids are also crying at school, sending a ripple effect of anxiety on everyone.

1. Give clear and calm expectations

Some kids are outgoing, others more hesitant. Not everyone will take to school the same way. Sometimes we pump school up for a child who may be more bashful or apprehensive about it. In an attempt to make school exciting, we might make it seem more overwhelming.

2. Keep goodbyes brief and confident

Some of the hardest goodbyes I see at school are from parents who linger. And who wouldn’t? Especially when our kids feel upset, tug at our shirts and plead with us, “Don’t go…”

3. Talk about your days

Ask your child about school, and not just, “How was school?”

Without pestering, dive into what he did at school. Who did he see? What projects did he work on? What was his favorite part? How was lunch?

4. Allow your child to grieve her former school

It’s easy to focus so much on what’s ahead. We forget that just as our kids are adjusting to a new school, so too are they saying goodbye to an old one.

5. Talk to the teacher

If you sense that your child’s attitude isn’t improving, talk to her teacher. Let her know your child doesn’t want to go to school and what she recommends. See if she observes the same resistance during class, or if your child is only more vocal about it at home.


For many kids entering kindergarten, this signals a huge change in their lives. They’re not singing nursery rhymes or taking midday naps. Instead, they’re in the same territory as kids much older than them.

Other times, the challenge is the desire to be with you all day. Maybe your child got used to your company during the holidays and can’t understand why she has to be apart from you now.

As with many changes in children’s lives, this will likely peter out, even if it takes a while. Continue to paint an optimistic picture of school while keeping expectations real and calm. And if need be, discuss your concerns with her teacher and recruit an ally in her.

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