"I Hate School!" 4 Issues to Investigate If Your Child Hates School

The reason your kid hates school may seem mysterious, but pay attention -- the clues are there.

Ten years ago, my son hated school. HATED it.

That might sound unremarkable, except for one thing: he was in kindergarten. And this dislike continued, on and off, throughout all of elementary school.

The reasons for why some kids hate school can be varied and mysterious -- even to the kids themselves. When they say they hate school, "much of what they're doing is trying to find a way to say what they're feeling, without having the words to express it," said Dr. Daniel Franklin , an educational therapist.

Experts shared what they believe are the four most common reasons for why a child might hate school, along with the signs you should look out for and some suggestions for how to address them.

1) Social Struggles

  • The signs. Suddenly, the 2nd-grader who couldn't wait to get to class has become the 3rd-grader who excels at finding excuses to stay home. He says he has plenty of friends, but he can't name any...and he doesn't have any playdates lined up for the weekend.
  • Some solutions . "Make the teacher aware that your child is struggling socially," said Rachel Kapp , an educational therapist. "Teachers are really good about connecting students who have similar interests." Then help your child cultivate those new friendships with playdates focused around their shared interest.

2)  Bullying

  • The signs. Your happy-go-lucky little girl is having drastic mood swings, or is often angry or depressed. The quality of her schoolwork has deteriorated as well. Add this list to her frequent requests to get to school extra early, and bullying seems to be the likely culprit.
  • Some solutions. The most important thing you can do is let your child know that she's done nothing wrong. Then, according to pediatrician Dr. Michael Yogman , you can work with teachers and school administrators to craft a concrete intervention plan that addresses your child's situation in the most appropriate way. Get more signs and strategies to handle bullying

3) Poor Teacher-Student Relationship

  • The signs. When you're at a parent-teacher conference, do you get the sense that your kid's teacher doesn't "get" him? Does your kid feel overlooked or underappreciated? "Children need to feel safe to fail," Kapp argues. "And to do that, they need a good relationship with their teachers."
  • Some solutions. Meet with the teacher in person, and keep the conversation positive and constructive. Aim to get a better understanding of her perspectives and teaching style, so you can see why your kid may not be connecting. But don't just stop there; make sure you cultivate a relationship with the teacher, too. This rapport will ensure she's more receptive if you need to address any issues your child may be having.Learn what to do if a teacher isn't the right fit.

4)  Potential Learning Disabilities

  • The signs. Your child may be able to do some math, or read an easier book, but she hasn't demonstrated a "fluency" in any typical classroom skills. She may even lack the organizational know-how to manage the rapid-fire demands of schoolwork. Dr. Benjamin Maixner , a behavioral consultant, argues that these are signs that her hatred for school may stem from a learning disability.
  • Some solutions. If you suspect that your child has a learning or organizational disability, get them evaluated by a neurological or educational psychologist who specializes in this area. This information will help you create a customized game plan for your child to help her succeed in and maybe even enjoy school.

It wasn't until the end of elementary school that we realized that our son's poor executive function skills were overwhelming him in the classroom. But after we made this discovery, we got him the help he needed and he's now a successful high school sophomore.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, keep in mind some sage advice I received from one expert, Dr. Cora Breuner of Seattle Children's Hospital: "Don't beat yourself up as a parent. When you're showing up for your child unconditionally, it's never a bad thing."


Are you seeing these signs in your kids? Do you have any other strategies that have worked well for your family? Tell us below!

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