She Hates School

Posted on Jan 28, 2013

I describe Bella as a ‘perfect middle child’. She goes with the flow, she adapts easily, change doesn’t bother her. She’s happy-go-lucky and as sweet as they come.
Because of this, when she does get upset, it throws our lives completely off it’s axis.

The one thing that she has never really handled well, is going to school. The preschool teachers had to peel her off me every day from September until Christmas break. Until she met some friends. Or a friend. She always has had just one or two good friends.
Kindergarten went well, and I’m not sure why. The 2 classes did a lot of stuff together, and she had the same teacher that her sister had, and she really liked him.  Along with knowing a couple girls from preschool, she made 2 really good friends, who were both in the other class.

On the 1st day of grade one, she was put in a class with none of her besties. She knew a couple girls, but was not happy. She was the only kid crying that morning, standing against the brick wall, lined up waiting to go inside. My heart broke. Oh and her teacher was pregnant. So I knew she’d be leaving during the school year.

I did nothing.


I figured it would be good for Bella. This would force her to make new friends. And the teacher leaving at Christmas break would be okay – since Bella knew it was happening.

Now, it’s the end of January. She’s cried walking out the door almost every single day. The teacher even noticed she seemed ‘sensitive’ one day. Abby found Bella crying in the bathroom once. She’s had more sick days this month than in December, when we had the plague. She coughs, says she doesn’t want to go to school, my heart breaks, and I let her stay home.

Today, the tears turned to full blown sobs.

We sent her out the door. Forced our sweet girl to do something she really didn’t want to do. She hates school, and she’s only in grade one. I ask her why she hates school, and all she says is “it’s too long”, and she “just wants to stay home”.

So what do I do? I can request she be moved into the class with her besties from kindergarten. But what if I do that and she still hates it? Do I ask her if she wants to be moved and get her excited only to find out that they can’t make it happen? Do I not tell her, and have it happen, and then have her freak out that she doesn’t want to be on the other side of the school (she’s right across the hall from her big sister now and LOVES that). Do I let her come home for lunch to make the day seem less long?

Poor sweet Bella.

Oh, and to all the parents with babies that don’t sleep or with toddlers that won’t eat or pee on the toilet…that’s nothing. It gets WAY harder.








  1. Hi, Shannon, I have some ideas that may help. I think that your very first step is to sit down with Bella and talk through all the options. Let her know that it’s really important to you that she is happy, and that it’s also important to you that she learn to overcome difficulties, and that you are trying to figure out the best way to help her. Let her know that you will support her, no matter what, and that if you decide together that changing the class is important, that you will work with her to try to do that. Lay ALL the possibilities on the table. Everything from “Bella decides she’s going to figure this out and go to school determinedly every day.” to “We pull Bella out of school and homeschool.” Your goal is to empower Bella to participate in the decisions – the daily ones about “do I go to school today?” and the larger ones, like, “How do I respond, what thoughts do I choose, when something is happening that I don’t like.” Over and over, bring the conversation back to what BELLA can do – with her thoughts, emotions, and physical reality. I have two documents that might help you, and I’d be happy to forward them to you. One is a document specifically about helping a child adjust to a difficult schooling situation, and the other is a problem-solving plan for a Family Meeting, that can be used with 2 or more people, that I think will describe a process that will really support you and Bella right now. Feel free to email me to request these. Also, it sounds as though Bella may be an introvert, meaning that she refuels and recharges with quiet time with familiar people, in her own safe, low-key environment (home). She may just need one extra day a week home with you. As you brainstorm solutions together, you might consider scheduling an agreed-upon number of “Mental Health Days” for Bella, and give her the option to schedule ahead, or use those days when she needs, depending on your flexibility. The key is to decide together, to bring Bella back to a place where she feels like she can change her situation. Even talking to her about “If you’re sad, you can cry.” brings it to a place of choice, and that’s really important so that she doesn’t feel like she has no control over her own life. I know how hard this is! I’m sending so much love to you and Bella! In joy, Lisa Kathleen (Full Circle Parenting)

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  2. Wow Lisa, you nailed it. She’s definitely an introvert, and loves her familiar people.
    I really appreciate these ideas, and for you taking time to write all that!
    I’m emailing you right away.

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