What to do when your Child is Scared of School

Ah yes the “Mummy I have a tummy ache scenario”. Lots of kids are scared of school at first. Some kids are shy and need some time to settle in. Whilst others have a legitimate reason for being scared of school, such as a bully, a difficult teacher or when struggling with a subject.

The best advice is to sit down and talk to your child about their thoughts and feelings about school. Your child needs to know that they are not going to be in trouble for being honest and that you will not laugh or make fun of them. Parents need to treat this issue very seriously and be sensitive to your child’s feelings. Remember, it may sound silly to you, but your child is legitimately scared of something at school and it is very real for them.

Maybe there is something you can do to help eg. have a chat to the teacher or organize some tutoring for your child. Your child might be struggling with a particular subject, such as maths because they are in an advanced class, but would feel more comfortable in a standard maths class. That is what happened to me when I started high-school. The school assessed me as suitable for the top maths class for my year level, but I struggled in this class. I would have been happier, and more successful in the standard maths class.

Another reason why your child may be struggling at school and therefore scared of school may be because they are having difficulty reading the blackboard or hearing the teacher. It might be worth-wile getting your child’s hearing or eyesight checked out to eliminate these possibilities. They may need glasses, or maybe they just need to sit closer to the front of the class.

So what do you do about bullies at school? Well, that is a good question. Most bullies are kids who have self esteem issues themselves and it makes them feel better about themselves, when they put others down. Even though your child will probably beg you not to, it is important that the teacher know about bullies. Other children in the classroom may also be being bullied and the teacher may be able to offer some advice and solutions. Maybe the teacher can talk to the bully’s
parent(s). Or if it is more serious, e.g. physical aggression, the school Principle needs to get involved. Bullying is a serious situation in every school and it cannot be stopped unless it is reported to the school.

If your child is shy and finds it difficult to mix with other children, you may be able to encourage them to make friends with other shy kids at school. Or maybe you could get them involved in one or more group activities outside of school. Team sports often help kids to develop skills in working within a team and to practice communicating with other kids. Another suggestion is to encourage your child to get involved in dance, gymnastics, Scouts, or a church group. Sometimes a small church group can be less intimidating than sports or other activities that require lots of skill.

This brings me to another cause of kids being scared of school. Your child might not be good at sport or swimming; and the Sport’s day or Swimming carnival is coming up soon. I remember my P.E. teacher putting lots of pressure on the kids, especially the less confident ones, to get involved in sports activities. It may benefit your child to be involved in swimming lessons or sports practice out of school hours to build their confidence.

Remember: listen to your child’s concerns and empathize with them. It is important that they know you believe what they are telling you, and that you care what they have to say.