“It’s obviously different if the child has a transient concern, like, ‘There’s a test today’ or ‘My stomach hurts,’ as opposed to there being a pattern of concern about what school is like over time,” says Alfie Kohn, author of The Schools Our Children Deserve. “That concern has to be taken seriously. The obvious response to the child here would be, ‘How come, what’s going on?’

“It may be necessary, depending on the age of the child, to be a detective over time to try to arrive at a full answer, rather than to just depend on what your child tells you at that moment. But the question here is not just what the parent says to the child, but what the parent’s position is about whether the child’s concerns may be legitimate. So I wouldn’t want to just come out with some way to make the child feel less anxious at the moment or exert pressure to go. I would want to see if there really is a problem at the school in terms of how he or she is being treated by teachers or other children. Something that really needs to be addressed, and addressing it might require the parent to become a political activist, not merely an advocate for her own child.”

Here’s how 4 other parenting experts say to respond…


YouTube video

Sh*tty Mom
Let’s face it, says Sh*tty Mom co-author Mary Ann Zoellner, school exists to get kids out of the house. Here’s her tough-love, no-truancy approach to make sure they go. Format: Video (0:46)

Deborah Tillman
The star of America’s Supernanny tells parents that unless it’s a special case, they need to use a tough-love approach when kids voice this complaint. Format: Article

Sara Bennett
The Case Against Homework author suggests doing something unconventional rather than giving the usual, “You have to go!” response when facing this parenting dilemma. Format: Article

Jane Healy
If parents hear this repeatedly, the bestselling author of Your Child’s Growing Mind says they need to spring into action and do these two things. Format: Article