Dear Dr Gray,
My son has recently started saying that he doesn’t want to go to school. When we get to school he doesn’t want me to leave him and cries when I do. I have tried being nice to him, I have tried getting cross with him, nothing seems to work. He has always been quite anxious and not very confident. What should I do?
Dr Gray Replies……..
Most if not all children will at some point with go through a phase of not wanting to go to school, in fact it is quite normal for all of us to feel from time to time that we do not want to do the things that we have to do, particularly those things that we have to do on a daily basis. The first thing to do is to talk to your son about why he doesn’t want to go to school, but do this in the evening, when you have lots of time and when he is feeling calm, don’t wait until the morning when you are in a hurry and he is feeling anxious. Let him know that it is your job to help him to sort his problems out so that he doesn’t feel he has to deal with things on his own. Also speak to his teacher and enlist her help so when you leave him in the morning he will again feel that he has not been left on his own with whatever is making him anxious. Once you have identified what he is anxious about and helped him to deal with it, turn going to school into a good thing by using incentives or rewards. Finally make sure that you are calm and confident in yourself, our children learn by example. If at any point you feel out of your depth get some help from a professional therapist or counsellor who will be able to guide you in building your son’s confidence and reducing his anxiety.