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Almost every parent has felt helpless when their child unexpectedly resists going to school. It is common for preschoolers to feel excited about playing with peers followed by bursting into tears, then not wanting to stay away from you. It's important to understand that children are learning to express their feelings and that's how they tell us they want to play but don't want to miss us.

When children go to school, they share the space with other children and learn to find ways to deal with frustration when parents are not around. But most importantly, trying to understand your child is a huge step towards being respectful and responding to your child with the kindness we expect from the world. What we model is what our children will become.

Here are five ways to help your child who resists going to preschool:

1. Reflect.

How is your morning routine? Are you rushing to get things done before you leave? Are you late and running out of time to get yourself and your child ready? Do you have time for yourself?

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Sometimes the moment before leaving the house is chaotic not only for us but also for our children. We all know how difficult it is to get everything ready—including meeting our own needs—to get out of the house in time. Preparing as much as possible ahead of time, even the night before, can make this challenging event a more enjoyable moment.

2. Be there for your child.

Listen and be present when children express their feelings. Not all children are able to express feelings verbally so be an observer, trying your best to make yourself available. Don't forget these feelings are the cause of resistance so in order to help your child learn to understand themselves, respect whatever is causing fear and anxiety.

Without putting words out for them, you can gently encourage your child to talk about what's upsetting them. Say phrases like, "I see you are upset. What do you like playing at school? I remember you love playing with sand and water at home."

3. Make a list.

This is simple but necessary. Ask yourself, when did my child eat for the last time? Are they tired? Were they asking for my attention and I didn't listen? Are they getting sick? Get back to it every time you need help understanding your child's behavior.

Yes, we're all so busy that time flies by and we may not keep track of everything. And, no, you're not a bad mama for that. Don't feel guilty.

4. Discuss the school schedule.

Children thrive with predictability and feel safe when they know what's going to happen. Make sure you know the activities and the schedule for the week. You can talk to them in a positive matter, talking about the interesting things they will do and how much you want to know everything about their day when you pick them up.

5. Talk to their teacher.

Ask the teacher about recent events or something that could have possibly triggered the resistance. Don't forget that this is common, and questioning boundaries is part of this development stage in order to make sense of life. If you need an additional assistance finding out what's bothering your child, ask their school or pediatrician to refer you to a professional if necessary.


When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

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