How to respond to “I don’t like school”

As parents, we’ve all been there – our child comes home from school, drops their backpack on the floor, and declares, I don’t like school! Our instinctive response might be to jump into problem-solving mode, offering solutions or trying to fix the issue on the spot. But what if we took a step back and really listened to our child? What if we acknowledged their feelings and validated their emotions?

The goal is to create a safe space for our child to express themselves, and for us to respond in a way that encourages them to open up. Here are some strategies and example responses to help you navigate this common conundrum:

Acknowledge their feelings

When your child expresses their discontent with school, start by acknowledging their emotions. This lets them know you’re taking their feelings seriously and creates a sense of empathy.

I can see why you’d feel that way. It sounds frustrating/tough/disappointing.

That can be really tough. I’m sorry you’re feeling that way.

I can imagine why you wouldn’t like that. That sounds really hard.

Ask open-ended questions

Encourage your child to share more by asking open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. This helps you understand the root of the issue and can lead to some valuable insights.

What’s been the hardest part of school for you lately?

Can you tell me more about what’s not feeling right at school?

What do you wish was different about your school experience?

Reflect their words

Reflective listening is a powerful tool in any conversation, including with your child. Repeat back what you’ve heard them say, in your own words, to ensure you understand their perspective.

So, it sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed with homework and that’s making school not fun for you.

I hear you saying that you don’t like your teacher and that’s making you not want to go to school.

You’re feeling like you’re not making friends easily and that’s making school feel lonely.

Explore solutions together

Once you’ve listened and acknowledged their feelings, you can start exploring solutions together. This is where you can offer guidance and support without taking over or fixing the problem for them.

What do you think might make school more enjoyable for you? Let’s brainstorm some ideas.

How about we look into getting you a tutor for that tough subject? Would that help?

Why don’t we set up a meeting with your teacher to talk about what’s not working and see if we can find a solution together?

Set boundaries and offer reassurance

As a parent, it’s essential to set boundaries and reassure your child that they can get through this. You can acknowledge their feelings while also encouraging them to persevere.

I know it’s tough, but school is an important part of your education and development. Let’s find ways to make it more enjoyable for you.

I’m here to support you, and I know you can get through this. We’ll figure it out together.

Remember, it’s okay to not love every subject or every day, but we can work together to make it more manageable.

When your child says, I don’t like school, remember that it’s not about fixing the problem instantly; it’s about creating a safe space for them to express themselves. By acknowledging their feelings, asking open-ended questions, reflecting their words, exploring solutions together, and setting boundaries, you’ll be well on your way to helping your child navigate this challenging time.

In the end, it’s not about making the problem disappear; it’s about empowering your child with the skills and confidence to tackle whatever comes their way. So, take a deep breath, listen attentively, and respond with empathy and understanding. Your child will thank you for it.

Be kind ❤

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