When your child is scared to go to school, parents often feel overwhelmed on how to handle the situation. You want to encourage your child to overcome fear and join peers in the classroom, but you don’t want to force or push a situation on your child that could be harmful. The good news is that you are not alone. Fear of going to school is more common in kids than you might think. We have parent-tested advice from other caregivers who have solved their scared child situation.
My Scared Child
Yes, my child is scared to go to school … still. One month into the school year, we drove our van into the preschool drop-off line. The same preschool drop-off line that we have been driving to since school started, and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday since then.
We inch closer and closer to the building. Her big brother is so excited to go! He can’t wait to play with his friends. But not our daughter. Then the tears begin…
It has happened to us before, with her older brothers (she has three of them), but that doesn’t make it any easier. Every time that she gets teary-eyed, I try to remind myself that she is just scared for the moment and I try to calm her fears. I have to remind myself of this every day… because it hurts my heart as much as it hurts hers.
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How to Help When Kids are Afraid to Go to School
Here are a few things to remember when your child is scared to go to school (no matter what grade they are in):
1. Don’t overreact
I knew that she was nervous about being away from me. I am going to be completely honest and tell you that I hate being away from her, too (from all of my kids, for that matter). I like the time to get things done, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss them. No matter what they are going to be facing, they don’t want to face it without you. It is going to be hard, but you need to try to keep your cool. Try not to overreact. It will only make them more nervous. Be strong FOR them. Our children watch us and they see how they need to act from the way that we act.
2. Talk about her fears
Talk to your child about her fears. Let her know that you understand and you get scared, too. I asked her to tell me what scares her about school… why she didn’t want to go. “What are you scared of? Why do you cry when it is time to walk into preschool?” Her answer was simple, “I miss you and I don’t know when you will be back.” I told her that I would always be there to pick her up. I would always be one of the first mommy’s in the pickup line, waiting for her to come out. I also let her know that her teacher’s had my phone number and could call me anytime!
3. Find your inner superhero
Yes, it is scary to feel alone or nervous, but we need to teach our children to find their inner superhero. Think of a time when your child showed true braveness. “Do you remember when you were scared to meet your teacher at Sunday School and then you did and you really liked her?” or “Do you remember when you were scared to go on the ride at the park, but then you did?” Remind her what it feels like to be brave.
4. Talk to her teacher about it WITH her
The best thing that we did was to talk to the teacher with our daughter. I asked her to tell her teacher how she was feeling and why she didn’t want to come to school. She was nervous to do this, of course, but we did it together. It opened the teacher’s eyes to what was going on and it made our daughter to feel better, knowing that she had someone at school that was ‘on her side.’
5. Let her know that she is not alone
You are thinking about her when she is at school and you are proud of her for going. Try to resist the urge to bribe your child “If you go to school today, I will…” because this will be a very long road to travel.
Instead, try to give your child the tools to learn to be happy at school. I tell my kids, from a very young age, that happiness is what they make of it. Anyone can be happy if they choose to be. Make the most of your circumstances.
The most important thing is to remind your child that you are with them and they aren’t facing this fear alone. Even when we can’t physically be there, we are thinking of them.
Tell them about the fun science activity that you will do with them after school and make the most of that time together. Send her to school with a fun thought of what is to come.
6. Books that Help Kids Talk about Emotions
Bedtime and story time are great opportunities. You can use these times to remind your children of their strength and courage and any other things you love about them. Using story books gives you both something to focus on and relate to, together.
- I Am So Brave! – Celebrate growth, big and small! Whether it’s petting a dog or waving good-bye to a parent, read along with the wins of growing just a little bit braver. You will revel in the encouraging text and the vintage screen-print-style illustrations.
- The Day You Begin – This beautiful book touches on the discomfort that comes with walking into a new and unfamiliar place, as well as not fitting in. These feelings are normal and can be overcome, because your child is special and wonderful.
- The Invisible String – A #1 Best Seller about a mother’s love connecting her to her children with an invisible string. Truly heartwarming.
Check Out These Fun Crafts To Do With Your Child To Help Relieve Their Anxiety:
- Have fun together with these foam farm animal cups.
- Get creative with these cardboard crafts.
- Enjoy some family time with these dreamworks games, crafts and more.
- Here are some cool things to do with toilet paper rolls.
- Your child will enjoy these simple tissue paper crafts.
- Learn your colors with these rainbow crafts for toddlers.
- Keep your little one busy with this rainbow printable.
- Get messy with these awesome papermache crafts.
- Tempt your sweet tooth with these cake crafts.
- Check out these adorable my little pony crafts.
- Make crafting easier with these simple craft hacks.
- Go back in time with these dinosaur crafts.
- Have a magical time with these disney crafts.
- All hands on deck! Your little swashbuckler will love this pirate craft!
- These homemade science toys are a great way to get your child excited for school.
- We have beautiful zentangles for kids that are great for stress relief.
Do you have any advice for parents and caregivers going through kids being afraid of going to school?