Children who stay home on school days for vague stomach aches and headaches usually have school phobia. These symptoms peak in the morning before school and usually clear by noon. They are also worse on Mondays and following holidays. About 10% of children have this problem during the early school years. The cause is mainly homesickness and a fear of new settings.
Here are some steps you can take to overcome this problem:
- First: Send your child to school every morning, even if she has her symptoms. Fears are overcome by facing them as soon as possible. Once your child masters separation fears, she will enjoy school again.
- Second: Be extra firm on school mornings. Never ask her how she feels because children are suggestive. If your child spontaneously complains say, "Don't worry. You'll feel better". And at the moment of separation, act optimistic. Don't show any fears you might have, because feelings are contagious.
- Third: For symptoms at school, arrange with the school staff for your child to lie down somewhere for 10 minutes to regroup. Don't bring her home.
- Fourth: Help your child spend more time with age mates. Help her play at other children's homes and eventually to stay overnight with friends.
In summary, school attendance is a normal stress. Children need to learn to cope with problems rather than retreat from them. If you have any questions about school phobia, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.