You’re rushing through the morning preparations for school when your little girl complains, “My tummy hurts, mommy. I can’t go to school today.” You allow her to stay at home. An hour barely passes when you notice your little girl happily romping around the room. When you ask if she’s feeling better, she sheepishly admits, “My tummy really wasn’t hurting, Mommy. I just didn’t want to go to school.”
There are various reasons why a child might fake being sick in order to avoid school. The challenge is to find the reason in order to determine the best way to help him love school again. Michele Santos-Alignay, an associate counselor at the Love Institute, suggests asking your child specific questions. Your child may find it difficult to express himself so by providing specific questions, you’ll be able to help him spill out the true cause. If your child doesn’t open up, you can ask the people around him – his siblings, teachers, friends, even the bus driver. It’s important to lend a listening ear and remain patient as he shares with you the real reason.
Reason # 1: School bullies
One of the most common reasons is a scary bully a child wants to avoid at all costs. A bully is someone who embarrasses him or hurts him physically or emotionally. When a child cannot stand up to a bully, he can develop low self-esteem, depression and other problems.
What to do: Intervention may be necessary. Talk to your teacher or your school’s principal. Learn about your school’s policies on bullying. Explain to your child that bullies thrive on attention and it’s always best to try to act indifferent and walk away.
Reason # 2: Fear of teachers
Strict teachers can scare some kids because of their demanding tone and no-nonsense attitude. Children do not find the freedom to express themselves when teachers are too strict so they choose to stay at home instead where it’s safe to speak out. Kids with incomplete homework also want to avoid facing the wrath of their teachers.
What to do: Get your child to share the reasons why she considers her teacher to be scary. Perhaps he scolded her in front of her classmates? If the teacher seems to be truly unfair, schedule a meeting so you can discuss the situation with him. Make sure you prepare by having specific examples ready. Most often, the teacher doesn’t realize the effect of his strict approach until someone brings it to his attention. Just ensure that you remain calm and positive throughout the discussion.