One of my daughters doesn’t like going in to school. Apparently when she’s there she’s fine, but the anticipation of it and the act of leaving me at the classroom door is sometimes too much for her to bear. I can see the anxiety in her eyes. And it’s probably reflected in mine.
It starts when she wakes or is woken and she immediately says ‘I don’t want to go to school’. On occasions we have had to physically dress her, she isn’t oppositional, just refusing to do it herself. She has also gone to school without eating. And always with plenty of cajoling.
In fact it’s a good thing that her sister also has to go and I am thankful that she has never thought to object completely, dig her heels and refuse to go. I haven’t a clue how I would deal with that, only that I know it probably wouldn’t be well.
She repeats on the walk to school that she doesn’t want to go. Sometimes there are tears, sometimes just a wobbly chin and those huge eyes looking up at me pleading. She will grip my hand or cling to my leg and need prising off by a teaching assistant, or require intense negotiation and reasoning with.
This has been going on for the best part of a year, which can get incredibly wearing and feel hopeless as it is really difficult to get to the root cause of this problems. It is hard to divine what my daughter is upset and worried about, especially as sometimes it does feel like divining.
This problem started manifesting about the same time as moving house, but also she was apparently struggling with school work /not getting on with her teacher last year and the only thing that she has really been able to vocalise is that she wants to be with me. I had hoped it would improve with her new teacher.
There is a definite reduction in her level of confidence, especially compared to her twin sister, who is actually a quieter child but has a stable level of confidence. Comparison can be negative but in this case it helped me to see that it was not something that was affecting them both.
Twins can have a weird alternation thing going on though, where you find they ebb and flow in their development and needs so that one at a time needs most input from you as a parent. It feels that this maybe part of what is happening, but this doesn’t make it easier.
However it remains that the problem is ongoing, with no sign of abatement, or even particularly improvement. It feels that neither of us, me or her, are learning anything to resolve it.
I have looked for solutions. I have spent a great deal of time discussing it, me with her, me with my husband, me with friends, me with the teacher, me with my counsellor. I have read books and articles in search of an answer. But none is forthcoming. And perhaps this feeds it somehow.
Education is so important for going out into life, I don’t want her to be put of it at such an early age, but I also don’t want to give her a message that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t feel right to be all stiff upper lip about it, but it’s not right give in and let her stay at home.
I have tried explaining reasons why she has to go to school. I have tried promising rewards such as spending one on one time with me. I have tried recruiting the teacher to offer encouragement. I have tried using a ‘positive parenting’ technique of mirroring her behaviour until she decides that she wants to leave me, and then praising and reassuring her.
None of these have generated a sustained result, although with some of them, they have led to some initial improvement. I can’t help but feel that the reason for this is that these techniques have largely been addressing behaviour rather than the underlying emotions and a lack of self-confidence.
Lack of confidence and self-belief is a massive thing for me. I live my life largely in the shadows due to the restrictions I place on myself. It makes me think that if I am living like this, that is what I am demonstrating this to her.
So part of me begins to wonder what is already determined for her, how have I influenced her negatively? Can this be undone for me and how can I show any and all of my girls how to do it differently themselves?
I don’t have the answers and perhaps I never will. I need to take a step back. To stop trying too hard to solve it. To free myself from my own worries and anxieties. To accept it just is as it is. To be there, be constant. To be loving and supportive and not to worry about everything around a situation but only what is happening in it. To be mindful.