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Jane Bluestein on "I don't want to go to school!"

The author of "The Win-Win Classroom" says too many adults respond in the worst way possible. Here's how to do better when your child comes to you with school refusal.

By Hank Pellissier

"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.

Christine CarterChristine Carter: Parents need to know these two key reasons kids resist...

Alfie KohnAlfie Kohn: You need to be a detective to get to the bottom of what's troubling...

Adele FaberSh*tty Moms: They have to go! School exists to get kids out of the house...

Deborah TillmanDeborah Tillman: Remain firm, parents! Not going to school is not an option...

Hank Pellissier is a freelance writer on education and brain development, and the author of  Brighter Brains: 225 Ways to Elevate or Injure Intelligence. He is also a SAT and SSAT tutor and director of the Brighter Brains Institute