You may have read the story of young Tom Sawyer, the famous child character of Mark Twain’s stories, feigning a toothache to avoid going to school. However, to his bad luck, his Aunty Polly knows that this is just another of Tom’s lame excuses to avoid school. So, she pulls out the bad tooth (And, what a way she employs to pull it out! A long twine to tie the tooth to the bed post and a pair of hot tongs that she holds close to his face perform the trick well.) and sends Tom to school.
While you may not need to act like Aunt Polly, you will surely need to know if your child is trying to avoid going to school. Knowledge of the common tactics children adopt to avoid going to school would help you see through your child’s ploy.
Here are a few signs that will help you understand that your child doesn’t enjoy school.
Sign 1. Displays bad moods in the morning: Usually an occurrence during weekdays, it can take the following forms -
(a) Crying for petty reasons
(b) Throwing up a tantrum
(c) Picking up a fight with siblings
Sign 2. Shows a lack of enthusiasm: When your child doesn’t feel excited about school, he shows it in the following ways -
(a) Bored expression when talking about school or studies
(b) Doesn’t perform well in class activities or tests
(c) Receives complaints from teacher of daydreaming and being inattentive in the classroom
Sign 3. Indulges in bad behaviour in school: While the child may do well in studies, teachers often report bad behaviour like -
(a) Being talkative in the class
(b) Disturbing the teachers by asking unnecessary questions
(c) Trying to act funny or giving irrelevant answers to questions asked
Sign 4. Leaves tasks assigned unfinished: Happens when the child doesn’t find the tasks interesting or challenging. As such, the child may -
(a) Not note down the homework
(b) Not do the homework
(c) Forget to do or complete the projects on time
Sign 5. Acts cranky and tired: The thought of having to spend a few hours in school can make the child act up the night before or in the morning. He can -
(a) Exhibit an irritated mood and be foul-mouthed
(b) Have restless sleep or be unwilling to wake up in the morning
(c) Fake signs of exhaustion
Sign 6. Complains about illnesses: Emotional stress can also manifest in the form of physical symptoms like -
(a) Stomach ache and headache
(b) Loss of appetite and upset stomach
(c) Feeling feverish or unwell
Sign 7. Come up with lame excuses: A child may try to gain his parents’ sympathy by making excuses such as -
(a) Teachers being very strict and disliking him
(b) Having ailments like toothache or leg pain
(c) Being bored and tired because of the monotonous routine and long hours
What you can do
If you notice your child showing one or more of the above signs, don’t scold your child or drag him by force to school. Empathise with him and try to set things right. Here are some things you can do to make him like going to school:
- Talk to your child’s teacher to try and come up with a solution.
- If your child is a loner, try to help him make friends in school.
- If he is weak in studies, get him all the help he needs to perform well.
- Talk to him and tell him about the things he can do in school to enjoy his time there.
- Share good experiences of your school life to motivate him.
- Check your child’s daily schedule. If it is too busy, try to lighten the burden.
- Encourage your child to involve himself in activities that interest him.
- Find out if he fears any teacher or student and address the issue. Physical or verbal abuse by a teacher or bullying by a peer may result in your child not wanting to go to school.
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