Daughter Hates School

Dear Sara,

I am having a problem getting my eight-year-old daughter to go to school. She says she is sick but doesn’t have a fever or sign of illness. Often she will say she has a headache. What can I do to get her to go to school? She is missing two to three days a week.

Dear Misty,

I would recommend a visit to your pediatrician. Tell your doctor that you are having problems getting her to go to school and that you need some reassurance that she is well enough. You might also want to have her eyes checked out as well just to make sure she isn’t having headaches due to eye strain. If everything checks out then you will want to be firm with her. Give her an opportunity to talk about the reasons for not going to school and let her know that you empathize with her feelings but she still has to go to school. Usually, a child will want to stay home because there is some reward or benefit involved or something negative to be avoided. You might want to turn this around by making school more rewarding and staying home less comfortable.

Make sure that there is nothing going on at school like bullying. It’s important that she feels safe there. If your daughter stays home from school then the TV and games or other entertainment could be banned. Think of a special treat for school attendance. At this age, a star chart might work. If she gets a daily star for attendance then she will get something she wants at the end of the week. When she gets home in the afternoon encourage her to talk about her day in school and emphasize the positives that she tells you about. It could take some time but if you are consistent your daughter will eventually adjust.


  1. Joyce Davis says:

    I use to say I was sick to stay home because I was afraid of my 4th grade teacher. She was mean and she eventually got fired because she was a bad teacher.

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