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What To Say When Your Child Doesn’t Want To Go To School

School refusal is a common parenting challenge. Young children go through a range of emotions when starting school. These emotions can leave the child feeling overwhelmed or unprepared to go to school.

You may end up hearing the, “I don’t want to go to school” statement every morning making it harder to complete your morning school routine.

How can we manage such resistance and what can be done as parents to support our child’s transition back to school?

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Let’s find out today.

child doesn't want to go to school


Find out the real reason behind the “I don’t want to go to school” statement.

  1. Is the child scared?
  2. Is the child feeling anxious?
  3. Does the child miss you?
  4. Does the child want to continue playing at home?
  5. The child does not like the school environment and rules.

It can take a few tries of thoughtful questioning to get to the bottom of the problem, but knowing exactly what is troubling the child will help you support your child better.

Acknowledge the child’s feelings.

Feeling seen is the first step to opening up about our problems. Accept all emotions and let the child know you are there for him. You can say,

  • This is hard for you.
  • You are upset.
  • I know it’s hard to go to school on some days.

Depending on the situation use the following phrases.

On some days the child may need more counsel on other days they need to be motivated to get ready. Depending on the situation use the following phrases,

When the child needs the motivation to get on with the morning routine, you can say, 

  • Do you need help getting dressed?
  • What can I help you with next?

When the child has bigger issues like school-related anxiety, you can say,

Let’s talk about what is difficult for you, I can help you with a plan to make it better.

  • Do you need a hug?
  • Is something troubling you?

Wait for a response. Once the child opens up formulate a plan together.


You found out the real reason behind school refusal, but, what to say to a child who doesn’t want to go to school?

Use these phrases to help you support your child through school anxiety and refusal.

If your child is anxious about going to school, being proactive and helping the child prepare in advance gives them the coping strategies they need.

Anxious children do well with the information given ahead of time,

At the school gate, you can say/do the following things based on your unique situation,

  1. I will be waiting for you. I love you.
  2. I miss you too. We will see each other again at——
  3. When you come back l have a —snack/activity— prepared for you.
  4. I know you can do this.
  5. Today in art class you will— (give them something to look forward to in the day)
  6. Do you want to hold your friend’s hand and go inside? (If the child has a friend it helps to team up at the school gate.)
  7. What book do you think you will read in the library today?
  8. Give them a lovey/love keepsake to carry in their bag as a reminder of your love.
  9. Talk to the teacher about your child’s anxieties so they are better prepared to handle the situation on their end too.

Having gone through school refusal I know from experience that an empathetic parent who is tuned in to the child’s needs works better, in the long run, compared to one who scares the child or shames the child into going to school.

I know as parents sometimes such anxieties and fears our children hold scare us about how they will cope in the big world outside. This makes us push them harder, sometimes trampling their feelings along the way as we want to see them succeed rather than fall behind.

Related reading : How to ease your toddler’s fears

Know that holding space for your child to have feelings about leaving you and going to a setup with rules and structure reassures the child that no matter what you are their safe space to vent and be themself.

In time the child settles into this knowing and automatically comes up with coping strategies to deal with their own stress and fears. I have seen this happen and heard my son say the same words I once said to himself as he pushed through his fear.

I hope this post gives you the hope to continue through the stressful period you are going through right now with your child. Stay strong and continue being there for your child as they figure out a way to cope with their school anxieties.

Share these tips with other parents who may find this useful.

How do you support your child when they say, “I don’t want to go to school”?

1 thought on “What To Say When Your Child Doesn’t Want To Go To School”

  1. I completely understand the challenges when a child doesn’t want to go to school. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy and open communication. Try to find out the underlying reasons for their reluctance and address them accordingly. Creating a supportive and understanding environment can help ease their concerns and encourage them to engage in a positive school experience.


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