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When Kids Don't Want to Go to School


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When a child refuses to go to school, it can be a mystery for parents. Are there problems at school? Is your child tired or merely being obstinate? Trying to solve this mystery can be frustrating and create power struggles. Take a look at some suggestions below to see if maybe the puzzle is easier to solve than you think!






Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep. It's less common for younger children to have difficulty getting out of bed. Usually, parents find the opposite true. They can't keep their kids in bed long enough! Older children, especially preteens and teens, tend to fall asleep later, and may have a tougher time getting up in the morning.  It's recommended that a child between the ages of six and thirteen have 9-11 hours of sleep per day, although 7-8 hours may be appropriate. Teenagers should have 8-10 hours per day, though 7-11 hours may be appropriate.

Assess the school situation. How is school going for your child? Is there any reason why she would not want to go to school? How are her peer relations at school? How is she doing in class? Do some investigating to rule out any reasons why your child may not want to go to school. Check in with teachers to verify information reported by your child. If there is a school related issue that's disrupting her behavior, you may want to check in with a school or family counselor.

If everything is going well at school, and your child just isn't a morning person, here are a few tips:

The night before school, get as much ready as possible. You can incorporate this into your child's nighttime routine. Get his backpack ready and any papers signed that need to go back to school. Then, help him pick out clothes for the next day and lay them out. Or if he wears a uniform, place his uniform in a convenient spot that he can access. Try to follow the same routine every night, incorporating some rituals such as reading or taking a bath/shower. Use a daily routine chart as a guide.

Keep a consistent bedtime. To make sure that your child has enough sleep every night, try to keep that bedtime as consistent as possible.

Use a behavior chart/daily routine chart. Set up a behavior chart to motivate her in the morning. You can explain to your child that this includes getting out of bed promptly. Or, you can break down the morning into a few behaviors such as get out of bed, get clothes on, etc. Check out our Morning Routine Charts for some ideas of morning expectations. Use rewards or incentives based on your child's age. Provide a daily or a weekly reward. Maybe she can have a friend over or do a special activity with a family member.

Stick to routines. Keep your child's nighttime routine and morning routine as consistent as possible. Even during the weekend, have some type of weekend routine. When you keep kids on a schedule, it will make the trasition to the school week smoother.

And don't forget to give your child lots of positive reinforcement when he does a great job. Catch him being good!




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