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Behavioral and Emotional Wellness

Why Is My Child Anxious About Going to School?

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For the past few weeks, my 5-year-old daughter has been extremely anxious each day when it's time to go to school. Until recently she was doing well at school, but now she's hesitant to go and cries every morning. How can I help her?
- Susan

Because she initially adjusted well to school and her reluctance to go is recent, something new might be going on, like bullying or trouble with the other kids. Talk to your daughter about how school is going — ask about what she does each day, what she's learning, and what scares her or makes her nervous about school.

Also, ask her teacher about what might be going on. Is your child having difficulty with new tasks in school? Is she having trouble seeing or hearing adequately? You'll also want to observe how she interacts with the other kids and adults and whether her behavior has changed in any other way.

Sometimes the reason kids are reluctant to go to school actually has nothing to do with the school. Kids sometimes don't want to go to school when something big has changed in their lives, like moving, the birth of a new sibling, or a divorce. They may feel they're needed at home because a parent is stressed or because of something else affecting the family. If that's the case, the answer involves addressing the family issue.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: March 2010

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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