Date
23 July 2018
Children are sometimes unwilling to go to school for a variety of reasons. The important thing is that their parents are always there to support them. Photo: HKEJ
Children are sometimes unwilling to go to school for a variety of reasons. The important thing is that their parents are always there to support them. Photo: HKEJ

I don’t want to go to school!

Children can be emotional. It is not surprising if they sometimes are unwilling to go to school. In most cases, parents can cajole them to get on the school bus.

However, some kids will insist on skipping school. Most parents will take that as misbehavior but more often than not, they are not just being naughty.

One reason children are reluctant to go to school is anxiety. They may be anxious for a wide range of reasons, such as a huge workload, not performing well enough, having to participate in class recitation, being assigned to do a presentation, speaking up in group discussions and so on.

They fear if they make a mistake, they will be ridiculed by their classmates. And the more anxious they are, the less likely they can display their full potentials.

Another typical reason for children’s refusal to attend calsses is the fear of leaving their parents. Such anxiety can be reflected in their physical condition including ailments like stomach ache, diarrhea, and headache.

Emotional instability like depression can also be a factor. Depressed students are not just unhappy. They can be fatigued, jaded, insomniac and inattentive. As they are not feeling well, they lack the motivation to go to school.

Besides emotional problems, difficulty to adapt to changes may be another reason. Students who excel in primary school may not be able to reach the same level of performance once they enter secondary school.

Challenged by a totally new curriculum and learning modes, some students may feel frustrated and opt to skip school. If they encounter bullies or exceptionally demanding teachers, they may be discouraged to attend classes.

Students who have skipped school for a certain period of time will naturally face an accumulation of learning tasks and schoolwork, which can further deflate them.

That said, parents should be very sensitive to the emotional needs of their children, especially when they are reluctant to go to school. Talk to their teachers from time to time to learn how they are performing and behaving in class. 

Parents should also discuss with teachers any special arrangements that can be worked out to make it easier for their children to return to school.

Most importantly, they should have sincere and caring conversations with their kids, listen to their problems and anxieties, assure them of love and support, and walk them through the difficult stages in their young lives.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 27

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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FHKAM (Psychiatry)

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