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If there’s one worst nightmare come true, it’s hearing your kid scream that they don’t want to attend school because they hate it.
Well, maybe not scream, but rather just flat out tell you that they don’t want to go to school anymore. Ever. End of discussion.
Whew. Okay. Take a deep breath, mom.
Here you are, trying your best just to get your ‘mom life’ together (while juggling your work in between kiddie tantrums), and THIS happens. Surely, you’ve found yourself asking, “What should I do if my kid hates school?”
You’re probably feeling like flying off the handle at this point, but as the sweet momma that you are (bless your heart), you kept things cool and tried Googling your way through the situation instead.
And guess what, you found the right page!
Because let’s be honest here. Spitting fire and bloody murder on your kid for saying they don’t want to go to school anymore wouldn’t have done much except scare them to tears.
Plus give you another splitting headache.
Are you done with the deep breaths? Good. Now let’s talk about the WHYs behind your kid’s sudden, if not startling, confession.
Here’s Why Your Child Hates School
You might be asking yourself, “Is it normal that my kid hates school?” Not liking school is perfectly normal, especially for young kids who are just starting school. There are always reasons why kids react to something new and different.
However, that is not the case for every kid out there. While some children will tell you they dislike school, others will not — particularly young children, as they may have difficulty explaining their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Instead, their stress will manifest in physical ways.
So if your kid has been very vocal about not going to school anymore, then you need to get to the bottom of this situation, Mom. Time to figure out what’s goin’ on!
Most schools are highly sensitive toward bullying and will not tolerate these actions. If the reason your child hates school is due to the stress of being overburdened with work, not getting enough sleep, or too many after-school activities, try to identify the things you can change.
For example, your child hating school may come from being bullied.
There are some kids who have confessed that they hate school because of bullying. And it’s more likely to happen if your child is shy or introverted, so pay close attention to the signs of them being picked on at school.
Above all, your child hates school because they are scared. Educate them on what causes other kids to bully and how not to be the victim. Make sure they are playing with the right type of kids.
Fears of attending school can be as simple as a forgotten locker combination and as large as a reaction to racial injustice, lack of school diversity, and bullying. It’s always best to gently ask your child what’s wrong when these things happen, but if they’re not ready to talk about things yet, no worries!
We’ve compiled five common reasons why kids hate school, so you can at least try to guess what the real deal is.
Culprit # 1: Anxiety
More often than not, kids hate school simply because going there stresses them out. Much like how you feel about going to work sometimes, right?
Sure, your kid doesn’t have a mean boss or work colleagues to deal with. But have you ever thought about how tough it must be for your kid to be away from you for too long?
Or if your kid is going to school for the first time (or going to a new school), then it could be they have all these worst-case scenarios playing in their head.
If your child is struggling and hates school, it is vital to recognize that you are not alone. If your kid’s reason for hating school is anxiety, your job becomes more difficult.
Whatever the case, how you respond to their anxiety can greatly impact how they’ll handle future similar situations. One fear that keeps children from enjoying school is separation anxiety. Elementary school children could be having similar feelings of separation anxiety as well.
One thing you can do is give them the extra boost of confidence they need to build their self-esteem. Assure them that they can handle whatever it is that’s making them feel anxious.
You can even try to rehearse things at home so your kid would know exactly how to handle tough situations at school. And if it’s the bunch of homework that makes your kid extra anxious, help them break down the tasks into small ones so they don’t feel overwhelming.
Culprit # 2: Loneliness
Ever been through this I’m-in-a-crowd-but-I-feel-alone kind of situation? Yeah? Then you definitely know how tough it can be trying to deal with that.
Children hate school when they feel alone. So, the next time your child acts up or makes a fuss about going to school, or maybe pretends they’re sick just so they don’t have to go to class, try to check how they’re coping with their classmates.
Not all children are natural “social butterflies” and sometimes not being able to find a friend or someone to play with at recess can really turn a child’s positive attitude into feeling like he isn’t loved or has no friends – regardless of how well they get along with their classmates.
Chances are your kid doesn’t feel wanted in class, thus the I-don’t-want-to-go-to-school attitude.
Culprit # 3: Bullying
Ah. The mean kids. There’ll always be that one group of kids who’ll make every other kid’s life miserable. Come to think of it. Children can be really mean when they want. (Much like the grown-ups, too, but let’s leave that for another post.).
If the child has anxiety associated with school, missing school will essentially feed their anxiety and allow it to grow bigger. Don’t fan the flames. Stay positive when you express your opinions about school and their teachers.
Maybe your kid is a straight-A student, but now they are failing subjects because of bullying in school.
Bullying in schools is the major cause of kids not wanting to go to school. Unfortunately, the effects of bullying can cause many mental health issues for the victims.
Very often children do not want to admit they are being bullied. Very important for parents to take immediate action if they believe their child is being bullied at school.
Set up a conference with the teachers and school administrators to discuss this issue. You have to be proactive and have the school authorities investigate the matter.
Although it’s hard for both the students and the parents, use it as a valuable learning lesson for your child.
So if your kid hates school, it probably isn’t because of the school itself. It’s most likely because of the environment in school (a.k.a. bullies).
If your kid is a victim of bullying, what can you do?
While it may be tempting to confront the bully’s parents about the problem, the wisest course of action is to inform either your child’s teacher or the school principal. This will save your child from more bullying in the future.
Culprit # 4: Learning problems
Every child learns differently and no one teaching style will suit every single child – whether that be public school, private school, or homeschooled! This issue might seem like an isolated case, but it actually is a common concern among kids. Remember those days when you hated math just because it took forever to figure out how to get the X and Ys?
For some kids, it’s enough to just regularly complain about difficult subjects. Other kids, however, get so discouraged by the fact that they can’t catch up or perform as well as the rest of the class that they ultimately feel like giving up on school altogether.
However, in more serious cases, a kid may be suffering from a learning disability that keeps them from performing well like the average student.
Hopefully, this is not the case for your child, but you can always ask your kid’s teacher to tell you about his performance in school. That way, you can both come up with a way to deal with the issue at hand.
For example, if your child has poor eyesight or has a hard time hearing others, make sure that he is seated so that he can easily see and hear what is being discussed in class.
Or, if you suspect that your child is suffering from a learning disability, you can ask the school psychologist to examine your child as early as possible so you can immediately address the problem.
Culprit # 5: Teacher issues
Ever heard about kids telling their parents ‘horror stories about their teachers at school? Or, has your child ever told you something similar?
If your kid is constantly complaining about his or her teacher, then it might be for the better to have your child switch classes. Of course, that depends on how serious the situation is.
BUT do not jump to conclusions simply because of what your child said. Because let’s be honest, sometimes the truth can get stretched a little bit too far, y’know. So if you’ve been hearing a lot of negative reports about a particular teacher, the next thing you should do is verify the story so you can take proper action.
Culprit # 6: They Don't Know How to Communicate With Others
Perhaps you’ve noticed that your kid is not socially adept. Maybe they seem to struggle in engaging other children or talking with someone their age during recess.
Or, maybe your child doesn’t know how to interact with others because they’re used to keeping to themselves at home (even though it’s against school rules).
Well, the best thing for when someone attempts to bully your kid, you should teach them how to properly communicate with others (and even be a role model for this!).
For example, if your child is being bullied during physical activities at school you can suggest that he or she participates in a different activity next time – one that doesn’t involve the bullies.
Culprit # 7: Homework overload
Little Billy gets 5 hours of sleep every night and then has to worry about doing all his homework after school, perhaps on top of studying for some other testing?
Of course, he’s gonna get angry at the world!
If your child is staying up very late to complete his or her assignments, it might be time to re-evaluate?
Just like adults, children need to get enough sleep. Getting 8 hours of sleep is crucial for learning and memory retention! Talk with the teacher, principal or guidance counselor. Once you identify why your child hates school, you can almost always find a solution.
If your child isn’t getting enough sleep, the following morning could be extremely frustrating.
Parents can help their children by limiting their after-school homework to no more than 1 hour per grade level, to make sure homework doesn’t take away from the quality of your child’s sleep.
In addition, make sure they are getting enough exercise during the day to help them fall asleep without too much trouble!
Culprit # 8: Not eating breakfast
About 40% of children in the US do not eat breakfast on a daily basis.
This one is pretty obvious, and we all know it.
If you don’t eat breakfast, you’re going to be angry and unable to concentrate! It can even lead to behavioral problems such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and depression.
You know you’re hungry, and the only thing that will help is some food! If your child hasn’t eaten breakfast yet, try to fix them a healthy meal before school starts, or send one with them along!
Of course, not all of us have time for this. If you are too busy, try to have your child eat a healthy snack and some water early in the morning!
This can help them enjoy school and have a productive day.
Healthy snacks suggestions for your kids:
Culprit # 9: Feeling like they are not in the 'in-crowd'
Does your child sometimes feel like he or she doesn’t fit in and that is why they hate school?
If so, it can make them act out in school which results in them getting angry with teachers and possibly getting into fights!
Sometimes kids don’t feel like they belong at their school because of bullying or because they think they were born “too late.”
It’s important to help your child understand that school is for everyone and you can find friends in unexpected places!
Your child should feel welcome at school no matter what gender, ethnicity, etc. they are.
If things don’t improve after talking to your child, maybe you should look into changing schools.
Culprit # 10: Feeling like they don't fit in the family
Sometimes, children act out because their parents are divorced, separated or the kids live with someone other than their mother/father (step-parents).
This can be a very difficult time for children and they may have anger issues. That may one reason why you child can hate school as well. Family has a huge impact on children.
Sometimes they don’t want to go to school because they feel like a burden on their family.
It’s important that your children understand that no matter what the circumstances, you will always love them and support them.
In addition, if they have anger issues at home, getting some help from a therapist could be extremely helpful!
Culprit # 11: Too Much TV
TV is a great way to relax, but kids shouldn’t spend their whole day in front of the tube. This can lead them to spend more time in front of the TV and hate school time.
Studies have shown that too much TV can lower a child’s grades and make them feel isolated from society! Television, especially violent TV shows, lowers serotonin levels which may cause children to become angrier.
Try to limit your child’s TV time to no more than 1 or 2 hours per day, and make sure they are watching educational programs!
In addition, make sure the shows they watch have a laugh track. This will help them understand that what is happening on screen is comical and fictional!
So, what next?
No matter what the issue may be for your kid, one thing stays the same: There’s no quick fix to any of these problems.
Whether your kid is dealing with anxiety, loneliness, bullies, learning problems, or teacher issues, you’ll have to go through a process to try and resolve these concerns.
Don’t give up, though!
You’re not the only momma out there going through such things. And getting yourself a great support system can be a good way to ease the stress that comes with issues like this!
This, too, shall pass. And with patience and the right strategies, you (and your kid) will come out of this better and stronger than before.
Enjoyed this article? Share it with the other mommas out there too! And don’t forget to check out our other posts on the blog.