Back to School Blues


Does your child not want to go back to school? If so, we have the same problem in our house at the end of every school holiday! I can almost predict the first time my son will say, “I don’t want to go to school tomorrow” the day before school starts and will then repeat on and off for the following 12-24 hours. If your children are also like this it can be quite worrying. What I know now, is that this is normal for my son. He doesn’t like change, has bad first reactions to things and worries about everything. In other words, he is a spirited child. Many children are spirited, and not necessarily in the same ways as my son, but it can often mean that, for one reason or another, they don’t want to go back to school on the first day of term.

So, what can we do about it? The first step is to stay calm (in fact, this is the holy grail of all parenting, and is far easier said than done). If you see red when your child says something like this, pause for a moment and say to them, I just need time to think about the best way to help you; then, if you can, take 10 deep breaths to calm yourself down. If you are too wound up, then remove yourself from the room while you take your deep breaths as a change of scene also helps, and if you can get to some fresh air to take your deep breaths that is an added bonus. Once you are calm, you really can help your child and be supportive.

The most important thing to do - is something not to do – which is, not to dismiss how your child is feeling. It is all too easy, when they say ‘I don’t want to go to school tomorrow’, to reply ‘Don’t be silly, you enjoy school’ – even if you know they do! Instead, it is really important to listen to what they are saying and acknowledge their feelings. So, you could say something like, ‘I hear how sad you might be about going back to school and I completely understand that it is much more fun to stay at home and play with your Lego and be with Mummy and your sister than it is to go back to school. In fact, I bet you wish you could have holidays all year round don’t you’. In this way you are being respectful of your child’s feelings which will leave him or her feeling loved and understood, and even if they still repeat that they don’t want to go back to school, if you stay compassionate towards them, unless there is a more serious problem underlying the back to school, day one blues, you will get them to school. And very often, small steps help as well. Try saying, let’s not dwell on tomorrow; just think about what we’re doing now, so we’re going to bed now and then when the morning comes we will take things step by step as we get ready and each little step will help us achieve what we need to do. Breaking things down into small steps is a very good way to gently help children do what they need to do.

If your child’s problem with going to school is more serious than day 1 blues, please do get in touch with me at assured parenting and I will happily see what I can do to help you.

Image credit: ansel edwards photography

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