How to Spot if your Child is Unhappy at School

  • By: Beth Morrisey
  • Time to read: 3 min.

A child will not necessarily walk up to a parent and tell him or her that they’re unhappy at school. Instead, parents should watch out for a variety of signs that might indicate that all is not well in the school or classroom.

Classic signs of a child’s unhappiness in these settings include acting out, remaining silent, reverting to nervous habits and/or physical reactions to going to school or thinking about school. If your child is showing any of these signs, or any other behavioural or physical changes that are abnormal for them, then consider talking to your child’s teacher and school administrators to ask for extra support in helping your child feel better.

Misbehaving at School

When a child experiences a negative emotion such as frustration, boredom or fear, they may not be able to adequately explain this emotion. Instead the child may turn to acting out in order to express their feelings, and possibly in order to catch the attention of an adult.

Misbehaving can take many forms, from yelling and screaming at others (or for no apparent reason), to hitting, kicking, biting and/or destroying property. Each child does not act out in the same way though, so parents should take any change in behaviour as a possible indicator that a child is unhappy at school.

Remaining Silent About School

Many children who are unhappy in the classroom will remain silent in this location or when a parent asks about the class, classroom, teachers or anything else that may be related to the school. If your child is not speaking in the classroom it may be out of boredom, fear or confusion about what is being taught.

Unfortunately, if a child refuses to speak about their silence, it can be hard for parents to investigate. Asking a teacher to observe exactly when, where and possibly why a child is silent at school, or something that may contribute to a general silence about school, can be a great support for parents.

Reverting to Nervous Habits at Home and at School

A child may have a nervous habit that they slip into in times of stress, so parents should keep careful watch to see if this habit appears at school or even at the thought of school. Habits such as nail biting, Thumb Sucking, Wetting The Bed and/or carrying around a security blanket or toy can all speak volumes about a child’s unhappiness at school.

Physical Reactions to School

Some children may be so unhappy at school that they have a physical reaction to it. Crying, sweating, an upset stomach and/or diarrhoea may all indicate that a child is unhappy at school if they occur consistently when a child is faced with going to school or even discussing something school related.

If a child has a violent physical reaction, getting them medical attention is of the utmost importance, but sorting out the underlying cause is also necessary once they are feeling better.

Children who are unhappy at school will all react differently to these emotions, but there are some signs that commonly point towards this situation. Parents who observe their children acting out at school, remaining silent about school, reverting to nervous habits at home or at school, having a physical reaction to school or displaying any other type of abnormal behaviour as related to school should confront these issues and ask for extra support as needed.

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