When your young child doesn’t want to go to school it can cause stress for the whole family. Here are our top tips of things to try when drop off times get emotional.
1) Talk to them
Sounds simply right. We don’t mean ‘whats the matter’ and ‘why don’t you want to go in’ These questions are too big for an already confused child to answer. Nothing effective is ever a quick fix in parenting, these things may take some time to come out. Ask them some seemingly random questions like ‘who did you sit next to at lunch today’, ‘ who made you laugh today’ ‘ who is the loudest in your class’, or ‘ who is the child the teacher is always asking to sit still’.
Get a really good feel for how THEY feel their day is going. Once you build the dialogue and trust you can find out all sorts of stuff about what is happening.
2) Buy your child some ‘worry dolls’
If they are finding it hard to open up to you about starting school then perhaps they will talk to their worry dolls. The idea is they tell the dolls their worries and it helps them disappear. Or they could choose a small toy or doll themselves, they maybe able to take it into school in case they have a wobble during the day or they can just keep it under their pillow at home.
3) Don’t get emotional
By all means sob your heart out around the corner, but if a child picks up that you are scared or anxious they sometimes feel that too. Project confidence. You could say things like ‘ The teachers are here to look after you, if there is anything you want to talk about during the day, tell your teacher’
4) Talk to the teacher
Teachers will hopefully be empathetic that some children are finding it hard. They should have plenty of strategies to try for new children starting school; fruit monitor, register helper, a buddy to sit with etc. This is your child, ensure you get the support you both need from the school.
5) Love bomb
If your child is unhappy about going to school due to the separation from you, this can often show at other times too. for example if you go out before their bedtime or leave them at the weekends they might become extra clingy. Perhaps your child is missing you. It is hard fitting everything into our lives and Love Bombing is a great thing to try. It is all about spending quality 1-1 time with your child, on their terms, really making them know how much you love them, unconditionally.
6) Take time at bedtime to connect
Linking in some of the points above, children often won’t open up to you until they feel connected to you. If you rush home from work, asking them 50 questions about their day then they probably won’t tell you. How many times have you heard ‘don’t know’ and ‘can’t remember’ when you ask how their day has been. Bedtime is a great time to open up. Talk about other stuff over dinner, let them have a relaxing bathtime, stories, then allow an additional 15 mins or so to chat.
Obviously don’t force anything, but at the least you can just gently say ‘ you know, you can tell me anything, you can trust me, I love you’.
Give it time and repeat all of the above frequently. It WILL happen and one day they will be going into school without the struggle (most of the time anyway :-0 )