Back To School FearsIt is not unusual for a preschooler or kindergartener to announce to his parents, “I don’t want to go to school.” If your child’s pronouncement comes shortly before his first day of day care or at the beginning of the school year, it is most likely an indication of the fears and uncertainty he is feeling about a new experience. Older children, especially if they have just moved into a new school district, often experience similar fears but may express them as a stomach ache or headache, hoping for their parents’ mercy if they are too “sick” to go to school.

It is perfectly normal for children to be afraid or nervous about new situations. Particularly if they are just starting day care or kindergarten, they have no reference for what they are about to experience which makes the unknown that much more fearful. Usually there is something specific that is worrying your child. He may be worried that he won’t know anyone or won’t make any friends. He may be worried about what his teacher will be like. He may be concerned about how hard the work will be and whether he can do it. If he had trouble with another child during the previous school year, he may be afraid of being bullied. Small children who are new to day care frequently worry about whether their parents will come back to get them.

It is important to recognize your child’s fears and help him overcome them so that he can move past them and look forward to day care or school.

Next time: Helping your child cope with his fears