Not Going to School

Our morning routine goes: wake up, get a little playtime, take a bath, change to office clothes/school clothes, grab breakfast and go.

One morning, my 4-year old daughter who is now at pre-kinder level, suddenly said ‘I don’t want to go to school forever and ever’ just before her bath time. She dropped that like out of the blue. I was terrified. She loved going to school and nothing was amiss before that which could have thrown her off the mood. Her tone was firm and she started to cry. My wife and I got worried as to why. We tried to probe her for a reason and as we did, she started crying louder. She would not give a reason. Just screamed ‘I don’t want to go to school’ over and over.

With all the shouting, my patience started to dwindle and I also started to raise my voice while insisting that she must go to school especially if there was no good reason why she wants to skip the day.

At this point, I realized I am in a bad situation. If I backed down, I’ll lose credibility. If I continue on, I might really end up getting angry. I yelled at her before…and believe me, it bothered me a lot. It bothers me until now everytime it crosses my mind. That’s not who I wanted to be as a parent. So I went out of the room to clear my head and think of a better way to handle the situation.

After a few minutes, I went back. She’s dressed for school but was still crying. I continued probing her and asked in a calm tone ‘Don’t you really want to go to school?’ Of course she said she really don’t and added ‘I’m very very tired’. So I said, ‘Ok, we’ll not go to school’. She looked at me half-puzzled and asked ‘Can I change to my real clothes?’ She meant her clothes for home. I said yes, and we pulled out a fresh set of pants and shirt from her closet and I helped her to change. My wife looked more puzzled but didn’t say a word. All the while, she was wondering what my plan was. My daughter left the room very delighted and went playing downstairs with her younger sister. I let her enjoy her ‘Not Going to School’ moment while I finished prepping myself for work – and basically figuring out how to turn things around.

As I was having breakfast, I beckoned her to sit beside me. I showed her the recent class picture released by the school. I asked her to tell me the names of her classmates and point which ones are her friends. In a jolly manner, she named them one by one including her teachers and told me a little bit of what they do at school. I asked her, ‘What are they going to do today?’ She responded, ‘It’s dinosaur day, Dad’ with such enthusiasm. I said, ‘Oh, it would have been nice if you can tell them about your build-your-own dino toy. But you can’t because you’re not going to school today, are you?’, her eyes twinkled and with a big grin said, ‘I want to go to school now!’ We hurriedly changed her back to her school uniform and she happily dashed out to the front yard to announce to her mom, ‘I’m going to school now!’

I’m very happy how my rag-tag plan turned out. Relieved parents we were.

How about you? What could you have done in this situation? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment so we can learn from each other and improve ourselves as parents!

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