May 11, 2007,
M.T. asks from Canonsburg, PA on May 09, 2007
4 Year Old Refusing Preschool
My 4 year old is suddenly refusing to go to her preschool. My question is: should I make my daugther go? Background: this is her first time at preschool, because of her birthdate she will have to go to preschool again this fall instead of entering Kindergarten. I don't want to turn her off from school. I've tried encouraging her on many levels to get her excited about going. She is too smart to be persuaded, with witty come-back to refute my remarks. I've driven to the school and got her inside but she wouldn't go in the room and ran down the hall. Next day she just refused to get dressed, and pleaded with me to let her stay home. I've asked if something has happened and nothing has; I think she is just bored with it (she knows quite a bit for her age). I really think it's boredom because she also said that she wants to try a new school.
So, I tried using reward for going, but it didn't work, so now.... Should I use punishment as a means for her to go (i.e., go or your grounded) OR should I just let it go for this year and try again in the fall? I'm afraid that if I let this go, she'll think it's okay to quit and next year she'll try the same thing as soon as she feels a little bored with her teachers. What would you do?
So What Happened?™
I wanted to thank everyone for their responses to the post about my 4 yr old suddenly refusing preschool. I'm so happy I found this board because it helps so much to hear all points of view. You all had so many good points. So what happened? Well, she was on her 3rd day of missing when I posted -- and I'm happy to say that she is back, and fortuntately it was her own decision, but motivated by a little "peer pressure". She came in from playing outside with her friends (under her babysitter's supervision) to tell me that a boy was calling her a "quitter" and "school skipper". We discussed what the word "quitter" meant and she said "I don't want to be a quitter mom. Can I go back to school"? And so my problem was solved...she happily went back. However, what she didn't know was that I had finally reached the decision to let her stay home until next year (thank goodness I never shared this with her).
I had to ask myself why I was sending her there anyway; especially since she has another year to go yet before Kindergarten. My reason was "it was for her, not me" - - meaning I didn't have to send her for childcare or anything. I wanted her to go for the experience = for the structure, skills, socialization and independence. However, we already had this covered, as she tried to tell me in round about ways when I tried to convincing her to go to school. She never had separation anxiety and is very independent. Our days at home are very structured, we often do projects and little lessons to help her gain new skills, and she is in ballet and has many neighborhood friends whom she plays with daily, which covers the socialization. On the 3 days she stayed home, I made it clear that she wasn't able to play during her normal school hours (9-1 pm); she understood we still had to do school work. I had a babysitter over to watch my 2 yr old, while we worked. She did so well, and was so happy, cooperative and eager to learn...it just made me see that she wasn't being manipulative to get out of doing work, but she really felt like we could do better here at home. I don't think pre-school is necessary - but I will keep her going as long as she is getting something from it. The lesson for now is as simple as she put it "she is going back to do the right thing, because she doesn't want to be a quitter". Hopefully this will translate into ... when it becomes mandatory, she will fulfill her obiligation (or, at least there won't be any second guessing on my end about what to do about her feelings--- she will have to go then. For now I'm happy with her being a young 4 year old who will be home with us all summer...and we'll try preschool again in the fall (may try a new one just for something different). Thanks again!
M.R. answers from Wheeling on May 09, 2007
A) You are the parent- not her.
B) If she is so bored with pre-school, ask the schools to evaluate her learning level to come up with an acceptable compromise.
C) YOU are the parent... she has no right to dictate, make witty come-backs, or try to negotiate the issue.
(Sorry to sound cruel there, I have two girls that went through that phase, and I learned the longer you let them have the control, the harder it is to take it back later on. My son will be hitting that phase soon enough, and I have no plans to let him start trying to manipulate me from what I think is best. lol. Seriously, give in once and it's really hard to keep from giving in on other things that you need to put your foot down on.)
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M.R. answers from Cincinnati on May 09, 2007
Allowing her to manipulate you to get out of going to school is definitely not a habit you want to create! Do you want your child to think that every time she is 'bored' with school that you're going to come to her rescue and not make her go? Do you want to teach her that when it comes to school if she throws a tantrum you're not going to make her go? I'm not sure if this is something you're willing to go through during elementary, middle, and high school years. Trust me, when she's in high school she will probably think every minute of school is boring (this coming from a high school teacher)!
To me, school is non-negotiable except in the case of illness or some other major problem (death in the family, being bullied at school, etc.). I know not everyone shares these values and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, if you, too believe that school is important and should be attended every day, boring or not, you'll put your foot down and get her butt there, regardless of how much she hates it!
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T. answers from Columbus on May 09, 2007
My Son has done similar things, he says school is boring and doesn’t want to go. He is also in 4 year old preschool. I usually try to point out that his friends will miss seeing him; he is particularly fond of a little girl who I always tell him will be sad if he is not there today. I bring up things they did in the past I know he particularly liked or enjoyed so he remembers what fun he has had in the past there. I have also made sure he understands WHY I want him to go to pre-school. So he can learn how to play with other kids more, learn fun songs and do cool crafts. If I try the “so you learn things” approach he is always pointing out how boring it is and how he already can read, but they don’t even read at school. So I make him focus on the social aspects of school. As far as making her go or not, that is ultimately your decision, but if I was in your shoes I would make her go. The year is almost over, it is not like her issues are from fear or that she is not ready, it is because she is trying to make her own decisions. And it is never too early to teach them that you have to go to school and latter to work, weather you want to or not, it is not something you get a choice in. Good luck.
E. answers from Dayton on May 09, 2007
I am a preschool teacher of four-year-olds and my advice is to get with the teacher and explain what is going on. It may be that she will have to pry your daughter out of your arms screaming and kicking while you make a run for it. You will feel horrible and like the worst mom in the world, but I guarantee you that once she settles down and realizes she is staying she will have fun. I see that ALL the time. The teacher should be able to find challenges to keep your daughter connected.
I do encourage you to make sure you don't let her manipulate you. School will not be an option when she goes to "big school" so now is the best time to work on it, since it is most likely a part-time, short day situation.
H.P. answers from Cleveland on May 10, 2007
She only has a few weeks left and then summer..unless its an all yr school. But I would look into a different pre-school. If she is willing to go somewhere else I would take her somewhere else next yr. For this yr I might try talking to her about her friends in the class and how she is not going to be able to see them again if she doesn't go to school there. If that doesn't work I wouldn't push it. Either she had a fall out with one of the students or she had an uncomfortable moment of some sort with her teacher. Also the pre-school might be able to work with you these next few weeks. I know it is a lot but what if the next couple of days she has class you sit in on the class with her. Help her ease back in and get her grasp on it again and then ease out. I know my girls go to a two yr school and it has amazed me how much peer pressure they even feel at these ages. My oldest had times last yr when she didn't want to go but we eventually got past it. I was also amazed at how much questioning and creativity it took in that time to get her to finally tell me what it was that was bothering her. It was a combination of one mean little boy and the fact that she just missed mommy and her siblings. But she did get over it and now its torture telling her that she can't go on the rare occasion that she is sick or its an teacher conference day or holiday breaks. Its such a tough age for them. Good luck.
D.F. answers from Cincinnati on May 10, 2007
How long has she been in preschool? Is this a recent development? My son had issues with preschools and after investigating on my own and listening to him, we switched schools several times and I, too, felt he has the rest of his life to go to school I wasn't going to force him into something he dreaded. So, we tried part-time, thinking the days were too long. Finally we found the right school for him and he LOVED it, he is six now and still talks about the school, his friends and teachers, he will be going there for the summer and can't wait! I think sometimes it's just finding the right school. But you don't want to send the message that if she complains she can just "skip" school. I switched schools three times, the first (Little Red School House) when he was one because his dad yanked him out because he got bit (I didn't neccessarily agree with this reason, but already had my own doubts, the second, Basic Trust (supposed to be the best in the area) because the teachers were ignorant and the kids were obnoxious and he was regressing socially, the third because the school didn't understand that they basically worked for me and if I asked for something, like to know what he did all day, they should comply and because they weren't changing his diaper regularly and then finally came upon NKU's daycare, actually we had been on the waiting list for a year. And even though the days were long and he hated me leaving, he loved the kids and the teachers. I personally think it had to do with the fact that the teachers were all well-educated and truly loved their job and kids and third because the parents were well-educated, the kids were better behaved, more compassionate and ALL got along and weren't cliquey. So maybe you should look into another school.
A.K. answers from Columbus on May 10, 2007
Have you talked to her teacher? It may be a socialization thing.
Definitely encourage her to still go but let her teacher know of all that is going wrong. They can help especially at a young age. Maybe she needs to be challenged more that the teacher realizes.
M.S. answers from Columbus on May 09, 2007
I would wait until the fall. In the meantime, since you said she is bored, try to either have her tested, or get her into something more advanced for the summer. I really don't think punishing her and forcing her to go is the answer. All that will do is make her hurt, anger, and resentful. She sounds like quite a smart, funny, child, so work with that. Heck, I'd probably be bored too if I was more advanced lol. I don't see it as quiting, rather, find something more advanced for her. my sister had the same issue with my neice when she was in the second grade because she was 'gifted.' They actually moved her up a grade and she is doing great, plus they got her into other activities to keep her active (she plays an insturment, takes karate, an dance). If you just let her do nothing, that is one thing, but try looking into other schools, as she suggested lol. Kids are sometimes smarter than we are! lol