“There could be a lot going on,” says Jane Bluestein, author of The Win-Win Classroom. “If a kid has been loving school all along and suddenly comes out with that — that would be a signal for me. I’d ask, ‘Is this academic? Is this social?’ If kids suddenly don’t want to go to school because it’s boring, that’s very different from a kid who doesn’t want to go to school because he’s being beat up every day, which is very different from the kid who doesn’t want to go to school because the teacher is being nasty. If you have a teacher who is mean or sarcastic, who doesn’t have good classroom management skills and the class is too noisy or chaotic — for a child sensitive to noise or movement — that could be an issue.
“I’d need more information, so I’d ask them, ‘What’s going on?’ We have, as adults in our culture, a tradition of very nonsupportive responses. Some of the things we say to kids are so destructive and so alienating — and then we wonder why they never tell us what’s going on in their lives. The absolute worst thing we can say to a kid who’s having a hard time, who is experiencing distress, is, ‘Cheer up! This is the best time of your life!’ They’ll think, ‘I’m already miserable and it’s going to get worse?'”
There’s more! Learn how 4 other child development insiders suggest parents should respond.