When a child announces that he or she hates school, it’s often because of a problem that has nothing to do with school work. Parenting expert and author Ann Pleshette Murphy has excellent advice for parents who need to know how to respond to a child who hates school.
KATRINA: I’m Katrina Szish for howdini.com, joining me is Ann Pleshette Murphy, parenting expert and the author of The 7 Stages of Motherhood. Nice to see you, Ann.
ANN: Good to be here.
KATRINA: School and learning can be a wonderful thing; it should be a wonderful thing, but sometimes kids just hate it.
ANN: Yes, and that’s really not something you want to hear when you’re rushing off to work: ‘I hate school, I don’t want to go.’ It does happen; when kids are little, it often happens because of something you think is really innocuous – they couldn’t get to the bathroom on time or the teacher was mean, or something happened that really made them step back and say, ‘hey, I don’t really want to do this again tomorrow.’ Start with the teacher; try to find out if something did happen, if your child isn’t telling you. And if it does involve maybe workload, or the kid feeling they don’t understand something, then you often can work with the teacher to have a little extra help provided for your child. If it’s a social situation, that’s also something teachers need to be aware of. It’s hard, if a teacher has a lot of kids in the classroom, for her to keep an eye, but if you’ve cued her into what’s going on at home, chances are, it can get better a lot quicker.
KATRINA: Now tell me a little bit about the difference between a kinder, kindergartener who hates school versus a high schooler who hates school. How do you manage those two different age groups?
ANN: Well the other age group where you really hear this is the pre-teen years, you know, the junior high, because most people remember seventh grade as hell.
KATRINA: Junior high was, yes, junior high was the worst.
ANN: Because it’s when a lot of the cliques and the bullying and the emotional bullying happens, and that can be really painful for kids. And so that’s something that parents, again, have to navigate very carefully, because a lot of teenagers will not want you to get involved. They certainly won’t want you to call the teacher and tell them you’re having a hard time. But bullying, you have to take very seriously because we know, again, from a lot of research that it can have a profoundly negative effect on kids. Not just on their schoolwork, on whether they want to go to school, but on the self-esteem, it can contribute to depression and suicide. So if you suspect that your child’s being bullied, and that’s often what’s behind a teenager or pre-teen’s refusal to go to school, then you get involved first with your kid, talking it through and telling them you’ve been through it, too, and then you do need to get the school’s administrators involved because this is something that most schools are taking seriously.
KATRINA: Ann Pleshette Murphy, thank you so much, excellent points.
ANN: You’re so welcome.
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