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Six year old son so miserable about going to school, how concerned should I be?

(53 Posts)
pimple Tue 29-Apr-14 13:55:04

DS is aged six and really does not want to go to school every day. He has been saying this since January and it has gradually got worse especially after the Easter holidays when he is now crying about going in.

I have spoken with his teacher and she says he is ok when at school but when I ask him he says that the day is too long. I ask about play times and he says he finds them boring.

He is a quieter boy and mixes well with all kids but is not keen on loud, 'show offs' (his words) but can rub along with them. I have watched him at parties and he is able to get along with most people. But I can see from many of the boys in his class he is quieter than most but not a complete 'shrinking violet' as he plays a lot of sport and manages ok with the physicality of this!!!!

I am worried as this does not see to be improving and would be grateful if others could offer their experiences or advice if they have had similar with their children. Academically he is getting on ok and progressing it seems to be the social side that he is not enjoying which seems a shame as he is unhappy.


redskyatnight Tue 29-Apr-14 14:44:48

I had the same with my DS all the way through infants school. I used to have to peel him off me every morning while he screamed.

In his case, like with your DS, he was happy enough once at school (according to his teacher) and got on well enough with the other children without really having particular friends.

I never really got to the bottom of what made him miserable - the possible ideas I had were
- he didn't really seem to find his niche socially. A lot of the boys in his years were football mad, and he wasn't

- he would just prefer to stay at home. I remember him once saying mournfully to me in Y1 "I can read and write now Mummy, so I don't need to learn any more".

In DS's case he moved schools (an enforced move as he was at a standalone infants) and the resulting class mix, plus I think the expectations associated with going to junior school (i.e. the atmosphere is "more grown up" just "fixed" him. I agree that the social side was a big factor - he just gelled with his new class, made lots of friends (ironcially including ones that had been at his infants school, just not on his radar).

Does your school mix up classes periodically - might help friendships develop? Are there children he could maybe play with out of school (maybe other quieter children)?

pimple Tue 29-Apr-14 16:29:42

redskyatnight thanks for your reply.

Unfortunately it is a single class year so no chance of mixing it up! I think this would help him. There are more boys than girls in the class so this is an advantage for him I wonder whether things will change as he matures, just feel so sad to see him unhappy.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 29-Apr-14 16:35:29

Ah, poor child. I know what this is like and can still remember it now, the feeling is just awful and takes over your life.
If he has been like this since January I would be very worried and thinking about moving schools or H.ed.
They are at school for 6 hours a day, this is a long time to be unhappy.

mumofthemonsters808 Tue 29-Apr-14 16:49:06

My DD was like this but luckily it coincided with a house move so she moved schools and she became a different child. I'd also be asking if he is getting enough sleep, sorry for sounding patronizing, but I know with both of mine, if they are not getting enough sleep they become oversensitive, very moody and nothing pleases them. It's a shame there is not the option of another class, both of mine have benefitted from the classes being mixed up, I think kids sometimes just get sick of each other.

workatemylife Tue 29-Apr-14 17:04:53

It can be very upsetting for the whole family in this situation - poor you and Ds. We had a similar thing with Dd; a new teacher in January because of maternity leave was the root cause, but also a very boy-heavy class and some quite cliquey girls. What helped was sport! In the summer they did mainly athletics-style P.E. And because she can run like a bird out of a box, Dd was suddenly in demand for 'teams'. Would your son's sporty hobbies help to build friendships? Or could the teacher try to set up some related games one breaktime?

MillyMollyMama Tue 29-Apr-14 17:46:36

I honestly would not consider home ed because the school are saying he is fine during the day and pulling him out is really the last resort. I agree with others who have said it is a good idea to invite the quieter boys round. Not everyone wants to be friends with the loud "show off" ones. However it is a bit sad he is making those judgements at 6 years old. What are they showing off about and is this a fair and valid judgement? Maybe a boy or two like acting but they are not going to dominate his day!

I would keep being positive and stop asking him about his day as you are giving him every possibility to be negative! Keep off the length of the day - it is the same for all, and "boring" means he cannot be bothered to think of anything to say to you. What do you expect him to say anyway? He's a boy! Friendships take time and a bit of effort. Perhaps make the effort with sporty friends and those who are like minded. Some children only need a few friends. Some are never destined to be the boy equivalent of the "QueenBee". I think he will be ok and is definitely pulling your heart strings at the moment because no-one else is seeing unhappiness, either at school, during sport or at parties. It seems reserved for you.

QuiteQuietly Tue 29-Apr-14 19:38:54

DS (Yr 2) is also a quieter boy who does not like going to school. It seems he would just much rather stay at home and do his own thing. I recently read a book about introverts (Quiet by Susan Cain) which has helped ressure me about this.

I think school would be easier for him if he had a similar friend, but most of the boys seem to be "bundling" and playing football, while he is more books and lego. Playtimes are hard for him, and I am torn between encouraging him to try and join in, and letting him take a book in his coat pocket. Girls are The End Of The World and are unfortunately not an option. His teacher has suggested that in the next year or so, some of the boys will change/mature and DS may find a quieter friend.

I hope it all gets easier for you both.

HolidayCriminal Tue 29-Apr-14 19:45:27

I have watched him at parties

So he gets invited to parties? Can't be too much of a social disaster, then.

he plays a lot of sport

good team worker? Enjoys the sport and his presence is enjoyed?

That's not a picture of a kid with a social problem. I'm sure you can do plenty to help, and I would work on it, but I'd be reassured that he's starting from a decent baseline, just maybe not what he wants.

momb Tue 29-Apr-14 19:49:04

I'm going to buck the 'he'll be fine in the end' trend and say move him.
My ED went to a village school with an excellent reputation. She wasn't desperately unhappy but school was school and she was glad to get home. She did brilliantly academically and took her y2 sats just before we moved.
I moved her because her Dad and I split and we moved closer to my work, to a town with a single primary with 4 classes in her year and a less academic/more inclusive/friendly environment. It was entirely accidental/fortuitous.
She skipped out of school on the first day. Skipped. I could have cried. We got her sats results through later and she may never scale the academic heights that she did in that little intensive school, but in ONE DAY she got more positivity out of her primary school experience than she had in the previous 2 2/3 years.
Life is too short for him to be unhappy, even for one day, if you can put him in an environment where he can find like minded peers..

HolidayCriminal Tue 29-Apr-14 19:53:09

@Pimple: do you host playdates for him?

hotcrosshunny Tue 29-Apr-14 19:55:00

The teacher said he's "ok". What does that mean?

Twodownonetogo Wed 30-Apr-14 13:24:54

I moved my son. He was very stoic and never overtly complained. We moved him and from day one he was a different child. He loves loves loves his new school!
He got on 'fine' with the other kids at school, always invited to birthday parties and play dates etc, but his new school suits him much better. ( and then he eventually told us the negatives of his old school). So grateful that we moved him, now he is genuinely happy, not just putting up with school.

rabbitrisen Wed 30-Apr-14 13:35:26

I would think about moving him too.
To be that unhappy since January means that he is already quite unhappy, and that it is no passing fad.

rabbitrisen Wed 30-Apr-14 13:36:25

He is doing his best too, poor lad. He is obviously trying, but still is unhappy. And it isnt just down to a few individuals.

pimple Wed 30-Apr-14 14:38:59

Thanks for the replies it is helpful to hear others experiences.

A friend took him to school this morning and he did the same with her. This is somewhat reassuring as I know that it is not purely separation anxiety from me.

I am equally split between moving him to another school and seeing if things improve over time.

He was very happy when in reception and I know he has found the transition to sitting down and working rather than more played based activities harder when he went to year 1.

We have had friends over to play at the house and he is happy to have this but does not ask for this very often it is more led by me.

At home he is a really happy child laughing and joking a great deal. He is fine up until you have to leave him and he does not want to go. I think he would rather stay home TBH.

MillyMollyMama by 'show off' (his choice of words) he is referring to the children that talk about being on higher levels of reading, or high swimming classes. I am led by what both my children want to talk about after school and certainly have learnt not to ask for lots of stuff as I think they get questioned all day and being at home is time for relaxation.

quitequietly I have read the book which you refer to and I can completely relate it to my son. I also see that the extrovert is encouraged in many settings to the detriment of others. My son seems to be able to cross over between the quiet, more thoughtful boys and the more outgoing ones who play sport.

The reason for the post is that I want to see him happy but I am wondering if this is possible. I would move him if I felt that this is the solution, but what happens if we move him and he behaves the same at another school?

rabbitrisen Wed 30-Apr-14 14:41:38

I would ask a teacher about that last sentence.

rabbitrisen Wed 30-Apr-14 15:46:03

Or perhaps give your LEA a call?

Saracen Wed 30-Apr-14 16:36:53

If your son would just rather not be at school, is that something you might consider? If you are in a position to home educate, that might be just right for him.

MillyMollyMama Wed 30-Apr-14 18:12:27

At some stage in life children usually have to accept someone is better at swimming, reading or lots of things. Usually this is in school and, unless they are top at everything, is a continuing feature of school. I do not necessarily think these children are not worthy of friendship and I think it is a harsh judgement from a 6 year old to call them disparaging names ! It really depends on how upset he really is and whether he will he find all schools disagreeable. I am not a fan of letting children dictate to parents what they want to do, or not do. I would try and get some strategies from the school for helping with his dislike of school because if you want him to go to school, then a reluctant 10 year old is a much bigger problem.

Saracen Thu 01-May-14 00:25:44

"I am not a fan of letting children dictate to parents what they want to do, or not do."

? I think I missed the bit where the OP's son was trying to dictate to her about anything...

I read it as a case of a little boy expressing his unhappiness about school at the moment. Or is that what you mean by dictating?

pimple Thu 01-May-14 11:13:30

Thanks for the replies.

To clarify I think he finds the initial separation an issue as tbh he would rather be at home with me than at school. He talks about what he has done at school each day and is progressing well. I think he is adjusting to the different personalities in his class and is free to express what he likes and does not like. Of course he does not tell me about the positive things but I think adults can be like this too.

In no way is he dictating, he is merely expressing his views (something I have encouraged in both my children) he may be six but he can say what he does and does not like about things and other people is that not part of growing up?

He told me yesterday some of the others boys cry in class and do not want to go to school so I am wondering if he is picking up on this too as he is very perceptive about others feelings. Certainly if other children are unhappy this does not make for a great learning environment for any of the kids.

I am grateful for others experiences as my other child never experienced this.

rabbitrisen Thu 01-May-14 11:57:13

hmm. The other boys crying too could be an issue.
It probably does make him feel unsettled as well as them.

Might be worth talking to the other mothers too?

I dont want to alarm you, but the boys are not all afraid of the same teacher or staff member are they?

cloutiedumpling Thu 01-May-14 14:19:41

I too think it's a little odd that so many of the boys are unhappy. Would DS tell you what is upsetting them?

pimple Thu 01-May-14 14:50:20

Thanks *rabbitrisen & Cloutiedumpling*I think that the teacher is quite stern TBH and would be better suited to teach older children (juniors for example). This certainly does not help DS (or the 'softer' boys).

Some kids are more used to being shouted out than others and although I am not perfect I do not shout at the children very often!

DS is talking more about it each day.

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