What to do when your Child is Scared of School

This rather depends on whether your child is scared because they are going to school for the first time, or whether they have been attending for some time and only just become scared to go. In the first case, the key is to prepare the child as much as possible. Read them stories about children going to school on their first day, explain what school is for, and help your child to imagine a day at school. Make it re-assuring, but avoid going over the top and setting the child up for a massive disappointment! Above all NEVER look apprehensive yourself! Kids pick up on the feelings of their parents really quickly, and if you look like you are scared when they go to school, any sensible child will think school must be a really scary place.
If your child has suddenly become scared of school, when they were happy enough before, you really need to find out the reason. Don’t jump to conclusions – it might be bullying, or it might be that there is now a big dog in the garden next to the school that wasn’t there before. Children are often scared by things we don’t even notice. So question your child, but don’t suggest the answers you expect i.e. don’t say “Why are you unhappy – is someone bullying you?” because you may get a “yes” that isn’t actually the case. Instead, ask “Are you unhappy with school? What is it about school that you don’t like?” Often the problem will be easy to sort out. You can ask the teacher to keep an eye out if there is bullying, or you can help your child if they are stuck with their school work. NEVER just try to brush the problem off – if your child is unhappy, it won’t go away unless you help them, but don’t take over either. If another child is the problem, suggest ways your child can cope – I’ve even supplied kids with insults they can throw back! Don’t suggest that they actually fight though, as this can get way out of hand very quickly and should not be the first way to sort out a problem anyway.
Above all, you must make sure your child keeps on attending. If they start to have days at home, the problems only increase.