Preschool typically is a happy time in a child’s life and then they move on to elementary school. There is no denying that school can be challenging for a lot of children. There are times when they have conflicts with their friends or there are times when they struggle with a particular academic subject or project. Of course, some children experience greater difficulties than others. One challenge for parents is trying to discern whether a child is having struggles while at school because children can be very skilled at covering up what’s going on for them as they have not fully figured out how to express themselves yet. You can look for particular signs a child is not happy in school and take steps to help your child.

6 signs a child is not happy in school

  1. They may refuse to cooperate. For example, they may not want to participate in activities in the classroom, they could avoid putting their supplies away as instructed, or they may refuse to go to lunch. 
  2. A child may seem grumpy when getting home from school and unable to express why.
  3. Acting-out behavior may show up at home when the teacher is reporting all is well while at school. 
  4. Poor grades or lagging performance at school that is unusual. 
  5. A child may appear withdrawn, less talkative than they normally are.
  6. When there is reluctance to go to school or a pattern of physical symptoms before school such as vomiting, frequent stomach aches, headaches and crying.


What can you do if your child is not happy at school?

When we are able to identify signs a child is unhappy at school it’s imperative steps are taken to rectify the situation. Knowing what to do is not easy. You do not want to risk the situation getting worse.

4 Options for parents of a child unhappy at school

  1. Don’t act in haste or from panic. The best thing to do is talk to your child first. Communication is key. You can then speak to their teacher if this problem doesn’t seem to be going away. Let them know that your child is not happy and that they are reluctant to go to school. The teacher will then be aware of this and they will look for different ways to help. They will also watch out of any indicators that suggest why your child is feeling this way. It is wise to keep in regular contact with the teacher until the problem has been fully addressed.
  2. Be positive and encouraging. If your child senses that you are worried about the situation, it will only make her more anxious and upset. You need to talk about the problem in a positive manner. This will make your child feel more at ease.
  3. Do not ignore the issue and hope it will go away. If you have spoken to the teacher and you have tried a number of different of approaches, and your child is still upset, you may want to look into alternative actions. Gifted testing is a good idea because you will be able to see whether or not your child is better suited to a program or even a different school for children who learn in different ways.  Play therapy with a registered play therapist is always a good idea when children have signs school related anxiety
  4. Anxiety in childhood can be helped at home. The good news is that there are well established and effective things parents can do to help children within the home and family. Take a look at this article for resources.

As you can see, there are a number of signs a child is not happy in school and there are actions parents can take. It can be hard to know the right way to go about these things. After all, there is no magic formula. Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you haven’t rectified the problem the right way first time around. There is no ‘right’ way – all children are different. However, by being aware of your child’s behavior when something seems out of the norm, you will be best placed to make some changes to assist them.