My child does not want to go to school. What should I do?

Kid at school

For a child, starting school is as important as starting to walk, teething, or talking. A child who has reached the age required to start school and has reached mental maturity must be ready to go to school.

When the school period comes, children start a new life away from their mothers’ safe embrace and their familiar homes. For some children, this beginning can be very painful psychologically.

Reluctance to go to school is a normal situation that many children experience in their educational life. Because the child will experience many anxieties about starting a new environment. Families should be patient during this process. As in every adaptation process, the problem of starting school can be overcome in a certain period.

What needs to be considered is how long this reluctance lasts and how the child reacts. In other words, if the state of reluctance to go to school starts to take the form of physiological symptoms (nausea, headache-abdominal pain, etc.) seen together with the child’s long-term absenteeism or anxiety and even refusal to go to school, then it is school phobia, not reluctance.

It is very important for families and teachers to notice early when the behavior of not wanting to go to school starts to appear so that the degree of this reluctance does not progress further.

These children need someone to reassure them so that they can adapt to this new environment they enter and feel safe. The person who can best give your child this confidence at school is their teacher. The teacher is powerful and important in his/her eyes.

By working collaboratively with your child’s teacher beforehand, introduce your child before they start school and help them have a positive dialogue. It depends on the warm relationship between you and the teacher. Never criticize the teacher in front of your child.

Kid at school
It is very important for families and teachers to notice early when the behavior of not wanting to go to school starts to appear so that the degree of this reluctance does not progress further. Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash

What could be the reasons why your child does not want to go to school?

  • Children who develop school phobia are generally successful, well-behaved, compliant, and over-approved children. A factor that pulls the trigger in children with these personality traits initiates fear (illness in the family, a socioeconomic crisis in the family, birth of a sibling, migration, loss, school or teacher change, etc.).
  • The basis of school fear is the child’s excessive dependence on the parents, mostly the mother, and the fear of separation from the parents.
  • The child may be afraid that something will happen to her or her parents when her parents are not with her/him.
  • The child feels insecure alone.
  • As a result of the parents reflecting on the child the worries and anxieties they show when the child starts school, the child may begin to have school phobia. Therefore, the family’s view of the school should not be emotional, but cold-blooded.

Our Suggestions

  • If possible, show him/her your own school pictures and tell her/him about your memories.
  • Avoid negative talk about school.
  • Prepare your child for school life. Tell him/her stories of a happy boy/girl going to school, Inform him/her about the school and help him/her to clear all the doubts in his/her mind.
  • Do not give up on sending the child to school right away. “Yes, you are afraid, you are sad that you are leaving us and that is why you do not want to go to school. I miss you too, but just like me when I was your age and all your friends who are your age now, you have to go to school. Besides, I’m very curious about what you’re doing at school.” You can have conversations like that.
  • Listen and acknowledge your child’s concerns. Make him/her feel understood.
  • Be sure to tell him/her who will greet him when school is over. Uncertainty increases anxiety.
  • Tell them what you will do when s/he is not at home. Children are very curious about this.
  • Provide environments for your children to be with their friends outside of school.
  • When you leave school, chat with your child and do some entertaining activities.
  • Do not turn the days when your child does not go to school due to illness, etc., into a fun celebration at home.


  • “Is it time for school? About school maturity” on
  • “When Your Child Doesn’t Want to Go to School” on
Ceren Bayraktar
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