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My 8 Year Old Daughter Doesn't Want To Go To School

by Shulamit
(Toronto, Canada)

Hi Annie,

I use EFT and TAT for over 5 year on myself and my kids, but I can't find a solution to the problem that is described below.

My daughter (second of 3 kids) doesn't want to go to school, she finds it very hard. I suspect she has learning disability, but we haven't diagnosed her yet.

This year she keeps getting sick every other week (it never happened so often before), I suspect her emotional state affects her physical health.

When I ask her what is wrong she doesn't say anything, the teacher is very nice to her, but she just doesn't want to study, for her it's a hard work.

Also, my husband is currently looking for job and my youngest son, 3 years old, is staying with him, she might be jealous of him staying home while she has to go to school.

It has started to affect her sleep, she can't fall asleep and sleeps very lightly on days that she knows she will have to go to school.

Can you suggest anything?

Thank you,

Comments for My 8 Year Old Daughter Doesn't Want To Go To School

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Figuring Out How To Help A Child Cope With School
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Shulamit,
Without knowing more about what your daughter is like, it is a little hard for me to make suggestions. But I'll offer some of my thoughts and you can see if it fits.

It certainly does sound like your daughter has got something going on that is making her reluctant to go to school. There are also stresses at home if your husband is looking for a job, and often one child will be the one to play out the issues in a family. Has your daughter always had trouble with school? Did she enjoy pre-school? What happens when she is actually there? Sometimes children are fine at school, the issue is more at the home end and the process of transitioning from home to school.

Emotional Issues Effect Physical Health

You are right, emotional issues certainly effect our physical health, and if she is not sleeping well, and is distressed she is going to be setting up physical ailments as well. The fact that she is not sleeping, sounds pretty extreme, she has got something pretty strongly anchored in around school. If this is a recent thing, then I would wonder if something has happened? Either at school, or at home.

If this is a child that does not cope well with change, even a new teacher no matter how nice, can be a big hurdle to overcome. Also if something changed at home - I don't know how long your husband has been out of work? Or maybe you went back to work? Anything that is major in your lives will be having an effect on her.

You say she may be jealous of a younger sibling being able to stay home. If you think that might be an issue for her, then perhaps she feels she is missing out somehow. Maybe make sure she gets plenty of one to one attention, and lots of special times and appreciation for being the clever big sister.

You are wondering if she has a learning difficulty, and certainly that will impact her self esteem if she is struggling to cope with the work at school. Have the school said anything? Is she about to be tested to see what might be the issue? There are lots of learning difficulties that have nothing to do with intelligence, such as dyslexia or dispraxia. There are also lots of behavioral or psychological issues that affect learning, but I am of the belief that often kids are over-diagnosed and labelled with ADHD or forms of autism, when often the issue is more one that schools are not geared up to cater for children that learn differently.

Schools are aimed at average children, who are able to conform. One teacher, no matter how skilled, dedicated and caring, can only put so much time in each child individually. With a class of 20 children, and no teaching, each child could get a maximum of 3 mins one on one an hour. Lots of kids are fine being part of the group, and can cope with the demands of a fairly inflexible system. But many kids simply can't. Your daughter may well be one of those who is struggling in a system she does not fit her well.

Part Two Follows . . .

Figuring Out How To Help A Child Cope With School - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

How does she go learning things at home? What exactly are the learning difficulties? It is hard for me to make any specific suggestions, so please feel free to reply back via the comments and I'll try to offer some other suggestions.

Alternatives To State School

Have you thought about home-schooling? This is a huge commitment and not many parents are able to take it on board, but it can be transformational for children that are struggling. There does need to be lots of other opportunities for social interaction, and there are usually great support groups around where parents get together with the kids for activities. Sometimes a year or two of homeschooling can set a child on their feet and able to handle regular school again.

There are several articles about the pros and cons of homeschooling on our site.

However, either way, I would definitely recommend you figure out what learning difficulties she has first, as then you can be prepared to find the best kind of program to suit her needs, whether home or state schooled.

What kinds of things do you do at home with her? Reading, puzzles, finding and researching things she is interested in will help a lot to encourage a love of learning. Learning difficulties are often simply that a child is not a passive sit still for 30 minutes then do a task type learner.

Different Learning Styles

Many children are kinesthetic learners - they need to move and be physical to get a concept in their head. It is a pretty rare classroom where children are allowed to walk around while they think, or move their body while they work out maths concepts. The fact that your daughter is getting sick as a reaction to the stress, and can't say what is wrong, makes me wonder if your daughter is one of these kinds of kids. Sitting and "studying" is quite likely the worst way for her brain to learn, in fact it will switch her off, and may well be contributing to her getting sick all the time.

Her way of relating to the world and understanding it, is likely to be via how she feels, and her physical being needs to move and touch and needs lots of physicality to thrive. Sitting still may be difficult for her, she might move, jiggle, constantly touch things. It is fantastic if you can identify this early on, it will help her tremendously to start trusting her gut instinct. Instead of getting stressed with the pressure to sit still and conform in class, you can help her to work out strategies so she can deal with a learning situation that is not ideal for her.

Part Three Follows . . .

Figuring Out How To Help A Child Cope With School - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Classroom Strategies

It is really hard for teachers to allow physical kids to move in the classroom, it can be very disruptive and they feel the child is not paying attention. In fact the reverse is true - sitting still for long periods of time means they CAN'T pay attention, her brain simply shuts down or goes into stress mode.

If your daughter can work out her limits of sitting still, she may be able to negotiate with the teacher. Some kids sit at the back or the side, and stand and stretch every ten minutes, or move to the back and walk around. There has to be the agreement that she won't engage or interrupt the other kids, or it simply becomes unmanageable for the teacher.

EFT For Kids

It is great that you are using EFT & TAT, both would be great for her if she is open to it. Even if you or your daughter don't know exactly what the issue is, you can just tap generally about how she feels, for sleeping, for worries, for fears, for missing out, for wanting to stay home, the sick feeling in her tummy, any physical reactions she is having. If she is not open to tapping, then do it for yourself around all the issues.

Surrogate tapping is surprisingly effective. But also as parents we have our own stuff running about our kids. We worry about them, we think all sorts of possible issues, we are confused about what is the best thing, and all those feelings you are coping with, are reinforcing her uncertainty about school.

Tapping is also something she can use in the classroom to help her brain switch back on. Particularly if moving around is disruptive, the tapping itself may be a way she can move and integrate or deal with her feelings without it being so obvious.


Kinesiology would also be a great way to work with her - this is combining muscle testing to work with the body and what it needs. A combo of the two would be worth trying. You may have a practitioner nearby, but simple muscle testing and asking questions is easy to learn. You start by establishing a yes/no response - the easiest is if she holds her arm out to the side and resists (not forcefully) your pressure pushing down on her arm.

Start with asking her name as you put pressure on her arm. First ask if her name is something other than it is. Her arm should give way rapidly as her body knows it is untrue. Then ask if her name is what it is. The arm should stay strong. That gives you a true/untrue baseline.

Then you can ask yes/no questions about what she needs or what the issue might be. As much as possible get her to think of questions. The more she is empowered to come up with her own ideas or questions the better. Then you can tap out anything that comes up.

Part Four Follows . . .

Figuring Out How To Help A Child Cope With School - Part Four
by: Annie Desantis

Remember to use tapping for tapping IN affirmations and resources for her. Often this step is left out, people focus on tapping out the distress, but forget to replace it with something more desirable. Help her to tap in what SHE wants and needs, not what you or the teacher thinks she needs. For example, if she is a kinesthetic child, tapping to sit still in class is the worst thing for her.

Something else you might want to think about is that this whole school issue is getting her a heap of attention - and a lot of it is probably not positive. The middle child often does have stuff around being overlooked. Kids create drama to get attention, it can be health, school, acting up, throwing tantrums, getting into trouble. Anything going on in a child is a strong message that they are not getting what they need in some way and are trying to get attention in the only way they can think of. It may well be she just needs a heap of one to one attention, and the rest of the stuff will melt away.

Getting Sick = Being Fussed Over?

Getting sick is one sure way to justify being fussed over or taking time out. Our whole society is based on only being able to get time out if we get ill, only being able to ask for help if we can't cope. It is much better if kids learn early on to figure out more productive ways to get what they need, without anchoring in illness as the way to be looked after. Stress is one of the biggest contributors to all health issues, and our kids are conditioned from really early on to live with high levels of stress, and to not listen to their bodies as to what they need.

I hope I have given you some things to think about, feel free to add any details or examples via the comments below and I may have some other ideas that are more specific.

Good luck with it all,
Annie D :)

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