What to do when your child hates school!
When your child tells you that he hates going to school – take him seriously! Don’t offer platitudes such as , “Oh, it will be OK next week”, or ” Things will get better” because your child is pretty sure they wont. “I hate school”, is a cry for help. A serious cry for help. A cry that cannot be ignored or brushed off. A cry that needs care and attention the moment the words come out of the child’s mouth.
So what do you do when your child tells you that she ‘hates school’ or ‘hates her teacher’ or ‘hates homework’?
Work through these seven steps to find out how to solve the situation.
1. Take your child’s comments seriously
Don’t ignore, or brush off, your child’s comments even if you think that your child is just going through ‘a phase’. Hate is an emotional word and one that most children only use when they have nowhere else to turn. Your child might think that he or she hates school but in reality there is something else that your child hates, something that he or she finds hard to think about let alone talk about.
2. Get past the words
Your child doesn’t hate school. He or she hates something about their experience in school and they only way they can express their feelings is by using strong statements. Don’t tell your child that he or she doesn’t hate school – keep that to yourself – or you risk losing their trust. Go along with your child’s statement until you can discover what caused it.
3. Ask the right questions
Now to the tricky part. You have accepted that your child has strong feelings about school/their teacher/their work but now you need to discover why he or she has these feelings. You need to get to the truth behind your child’s statement. This has to be done carefully by asking the type of questions that will help your child understand his feelings and you understand what is causing them. Start by saying how sorry you are that your child feels that way and perhaps it would help if he talked about it. Had anything happened that annoyed him? Did he get into trouble at school? Is he being bullied? Is he struggling to do the work? What has the teacher done to make him feel that way? Ask questions that provide you with information
4. Don’t judge
Don’t comment on any of the answers. Accept what your child is telling you without judging the right or wrong of the situation. You can use questions to gently help your child better understand what has happened to cause this outburst but do not judge any of your child’s actions or those of others. Listen and try to make sense of what has taken place.
5. Discuss options
When you know why your child is upset you can start to move towards solutions. These solutions should come from a discussion with your child about what might be possible. At this stage your child might dismiss these options as unworkable but persevere and offer several options until you can both agree on what needs doing. This step may take some time and you may not be happy with the result. You may end up having to do something that you really don’t want to do. Measure your discomfort against that of your child’s and make the best choices.
6. Follow through
Now that you have a possible solution, one that you have discussed with your child and that you have both agreed to, it is time to follow through. If you do not take action your child will lose trust in you and in your ability to provide the support he needs. Don’t wait. Start providing the support your child needs as soon as possible. And set a date to review progress, to check if the problem has been adequately solved. No one gets everything right on the first try so be prepared to…
7. …re assess the situation
Has what you tried worked? Has the problem been completely solved? or is there something more that needs doing? Now is the time to evaluate your success. Whatever happens do not give up on your child. He or she has cried out for help – make sure that help is forthcoming!