When kids are asked, “How was school today?” or “How was your day today?” some kids don’t answer at all or gratuitously give a shrug. Other kids gaily mention at least one thing they did which they enjoyed. What do we do with the kids with the shrug? Are they just non-communicative because they are ready to go out and play or are they unhappy about going back to school?
Five Clues That Your Child Feels Avoidant About School.
1. It is a hard transition from summer to school as kids adjust to getting up earlier. But if by October they are still really dragging about getting up and dressed, maybe they’re not too keen about school.
2. Is your child not cheerful when eating breakfast or does he not want to really eat at all? He may be troubled about going to school.
3. Does your child linger when it’s time to go to the bus?
4. When your child gets home from school, does she throw her back pack to the side with no intentions of showing you what’s inside? Does she seem irritated as she does it?
5. Is your child reluctant to do homework even after a snack and some play time?
Tips on Helping the Avoidant School Child
1. Try not to push your child to be too independent at first about getting things done before school. Help them pick out their clothes and chat happily about their routine, so they know exactly what to expect each day. This adds a sense of safety and security.
2. Plan together the night before their favorite breakfast foods. Even bake together if that’s their thing so delicious muffins are waiting for them at the breakfast table.
3. If they tend to be clingy, put some pictures in their back pack of you and your child in case they miss you. Or, a picture of their pet.
4. If your child is anxious about separating from home, pack a small toy that they love in their back pack. Tell them they probably can’t take it out in school but they’ll know their little friend is there.
5. Walk with your child to the bus if they want even if they’re old enough to go on their own. Then give them a cheerful hug or wave as they go off.
6. If your child pushes back hard about going out to the bus, let the school teacher or social worker know, so someone he can get to know and connect with can greet him when he arrives at school.
Tips on Helping with Homework
1. Kids who are reluctant to go to school are usually reluctant to get their homework done. There’s no age too old to offer parental help. Sometimes just sitting by your child while she works is enough. Sometimes, actively helping with the work is needed.
2. Is your child organized? Sometimes homework seems overwhelming beginning in second and third grade because it’s really been amped up since kindergarten and first grade. Help your child pick a regular place and time to do their work and then prioritize with them the order of the assignments. If you do this daily in a month or so, they will get the hang of it and do it themselves.
3. Begin to identify which subjects are harder and easier. Discuss with your child if they like doing their hard or easy work first. Let them make the choice and then hang around if assistance is needed.
4. Avoid lecturing and being judgmental. Just ascertain if your child likes playtime before homework or is better off getting it done and then relaxing and having the rest of the afternoon and evening for themselves.
5. Try not to overload your child with scheduled activities as they are getting accustomed to getting homework done. Keep things simple, adding some pleasurable activities as the school year progresses.
It’s essential that your child not miss too much school because they will become accustomed to staying home and even ask for tutors. This can lead to a school phobia. Even if you have to drive them to and from school because they are anxious about being away from you, do so until they become acclimated.
Assisting your child and praising their specific efforts (rather than grades) goes a long way to securing the parent- child bond.
Do you have an avoidant child? Do you have any more suggestions? Do you need more ideas? Comment below!
Laurie Hollman, is a psychoanalyst with a new book coming out Oct. 13, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior. Pre-sale discounts on print and kindle books now available on Amazon.