We can see that some children still show reluctance to go to school, have difficulty separating from their parents (especially their mothers), even after a certain period of time has passed since the opening of schools, and even some physical symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain) accompany this situation. In the first month after school starts, we can observe these symptoms in many children and we can meet this as normal. However, in some children, this situation can even exceed this period and cause very serious problems. This is what we call the “adaptation problem”.
Some children have great difficulty separating from their parents, especially from the mother, and their anxiety levels are often above average. Being in an environment where they have never been before (school) and being with people they have never seen before (such as teachers and other students) is a distressing and unsettling situation for these children. They want someone who reassures them (for example, their mother) to stay with them all the time, and they can resort to various ways (crying, not wanting to get up in the morning, etc.) to fulfill these wishes. But it should not be forgotten that the child really experiences that anxiety at that moment and has difficulty in coping with this anxiety. We call this anxiety “separation anxiety”. This anxiety mostly includes the worry that something bad will happen to himself and the worry that something bad will happen to his mother, to whom he is usually attached, and the child’s thoughts oscillate between these two worries.
So, why do some children experience this problem at an intense level, while some children do not have this problem or can experience it at a very mild level and then adapt? There is actually no single answer to this question. The temperament of the child, the attitude of the parents towards the child, having a younger sibling who stays at home, being brought up in an unregulated and unrestricted home, and some negative environmental factors are effective in the child’s experience of this intense anxiety problem. For example, having an overprotective attitude towards the child; As it prevents the child from developing a skill on how to cope with a problem, it also causes him to be overly dependent on parents, and entering a new environment without parents is a cause for intense anxiety for these children. The fact that there are no boundaries and rules in the house where the child grows up is another factor that makes it difficult to adapt to school. Because the school environment is an environment where there are certain limits and rules and requires the child to take some responsibilities, and if the child is not used to such an order, it will cause anxiety and adaptation problems and refusal from school. Apart from these, some children may have a more anxious, anxious temperament and it may be longer and more difficult for them to adapt to a new environment.
What should be done?
Understanding the anxiety and fear of children who have adjustment problems and refuse to go to school, and not to be in a coercive attitude should be the first thing to do. If the child feels that he is understood and not judged, he can try to find solutions and accelerate the adaptation process. In addition, understanding the underlying cause of your child’s anxiety and fear will enable you as parents to produce the appropriate solution.
Getting the child accustomed to school gradually is another thing to do. It is not the right method to leave a child with anxieties and fears alone at school, to separate them from the mother, and to force the child to do so. For example, allowing the mother to stay with the child in the classroom for a certain period of time and then gradually removing the mother will reduce the child’s anxiety. It’s important to give the child the message, “I understand the fear and anxiety you’re experiencing, and I’ll be there for you until you’re ready.” If you told the child that you would wait for him in the garden, you should really wait, if you said that you would visit him at breaks, you should really visit him so that the child can build up a sense of security and cope with his fears. In short, it is very important that you keep your promises to your child.
Listen with interest and attention to what your child shares with you after school. In this process, you can learn more about your child’s anxiety and fear and help him. But do not force your child to talk, if he does not want to talk, do not persistently ask questions about the school. “There is nothing to fear, why are you afraid?” Avoid statements such as, do not compare with others, these statements can also cause your child to feel guilt and inadequacy. You just have to try to understand it.
Sometimes we can observe that parents also experience anxiety along with the child and reflect these concerns to their children. In this process, it is important for parents to be calm and patient, to understand the child’s anxiety, but not to burden that anxiety. If the child sees and feels that his parents are also worried, he will have even more difficulty in coping with his own anxiety.
Despite applying all these, if you see that your child’s anxiety level has not decreased for more than 1 month and you think that the symptoms are increasing gradually, please do not delay in getting help from a specialist.