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Ever since we moved, my kindergartner doesn’t want to go to school
Q: Since we moved from Oklahoma to Florida, my 5-year-old kindergartner has been trying to get out of going to school. Every day she says, “I think I’m sick and can’t go to school today.” I’m desperate to help her get over whatever fears she has. How do I get her talking? And how do I respond in a nurturing way?
Amber Tampa
A: Young children love the security that comes from familiarity. No doubt the move has resulted in your daughter losing the familiarity of relatives, friends and neighbors. This is upsetting for a young child, and she needs time to adjust. Your daughter sounds like she has separation anxiety. She fears losing others in her life —perhaps even her parents. This is why she’s reluctant to leave home for school.

As a parent, you need to be patient. Here are some ideas to show your support.
  • Give your daughter a photo of you and her dad to look at when she feels lonely during the day.

  • Do something she loves after school, so she has something to look forward to and will be assured that you’ll be there for her at the end of the day.

  • Spend one-on-one time during the week to help strengthen your relationship and help your daughter feel more secure.

  • Use a behaviour chart on which she can place stickers each day she goes to school with minimal fuss, and behaves while she’s there. Call this her big girl chart. Tell your daughter that she can trade in stickers for privileges, like staying up later, playing a special game with dad or having an extra story.
I also suggest you tell the teacher that your daughter is going through an adjustment period. Find out how your daughter is behaving and get a feel for the classroom. Hopefully your daughter’s teacher is kind and supportive. If you discover otherwise, move her to a better classroom.

Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist