Hi all,

Let’s try a new kind of post. I will give you a situation and posit a few questions about it. I am interested in what you would do and why. DISCLAIMER: I am not a psychologist nor a sociologist. So, I don’t claim to know the answer. Indeed, I actually do not know the answer, if there is one. The only intention is to brain-storm.


I have a daughter, aged 10, who does not want to go to school and is not interested in school work. She seems to like her teacher and her friends, but she would rather stay at home rather than go to school.


Should I make her go to school? If not, would that affect her future in a bad way? How can I know why she is not willing to go to school?


70 thoughts on “Brain-Storming

  1. Good post. I think something like this could potentially become a regular feature of Pointless Overthinking. You’re actually asking us to do a bit of critical thinking and creative problem solving. I’m all for practicing those skills. Now, let me think about the scenario and get back to you with a more substantive response.

  2. You need to make her go to school because that’s the right thing to do as a parent. There are things in life we have no choice about and if you don’t teach her that now, it will be impossible later. Tough love is never easy, but it’s necessary.

  3. I’ve gotta agree with CP. there are days where I don’t want to go to work and am uninterested in lesson plans but it is a necessity.

    If you really want to try it, you could do positive reinforcement. I go to work because I have the positive reinforcement of a paycheck. Maybe she could also earn her own reward 🙂

    Also, make sure she IS proud of the work she does. Don’t say things, “like *I’M so proud of you” but make it so she can find pride within herself by saying things like, “Oh, you did so great! I bet you are so proud of yourself!”

    Make sense? Just some suggestions!

    1. I like the idea of positive reinforcement and earning a “school” paycheck (which I guess could be any kind of currency the kid wants, not necessarily money) just as we adults get rewarded with a paycheck for our hard work.

      1. I think maybe something physical would be good – if not money maybe a handwritten coupon for something they enjoy, like time at an amusement park or for more time playing video games. Something they can literally earn and chose to save or spend.

      1. Honestly, i think the best thing to do is work with the teacher. If you could implement the reward at the school so much the better.

        I’ve worked with some kids where the idea of college or future opportunities sounds too abstract and far away to matter. Physical rewards sometimes have to do until they develop the understanding of how important education is on their own.

        This obviously precludes other things that could be the issue (I.e. bullying, deeper problems, anxiety, etc) I know computer time or built in breaks that allow for quiet reading can help. Obviously, depends on your child!

  4. Hi Betul – interesting question! While I agree she needs a formal education, I say maybe school is not the place for her to be.

    Here’s why – some kids just don’t do well in a traditional school environment and IMO it’s no use to force them, they just have a miserable time and end up hating learning.

    That being said, maybe a traditional school setting and school work is not for her. Maybe she’d like to go to a magnet school or an arts school. Maybe she’s interested in boarding school. Maybe there’s a trade she’s expressed interest in she could work towards while going to regular school.

    And still yet, she may do better with online schooling at home.

    So there are lots of options. I think it’s damaging to force a kid to do something they absolutely have zero interest in because “that’s just the way the world works” or “people have to learn to go through things they don’t like” I believe that thinking leads to so much burnout as an adult and leaves zero room for your kid to practice creativity, compromise, and balance.

    Just some thoughts, thanks for asking!


      1. Yes absolutely! Learning and structure are so good for kids and school provides that. I’m just encouraging different school options – children learn better if they’re doing something they like and that they’re passionate about.

  5. Good post. First find out the reason what she does not like going to go to school? Not sending or forcing her going to school may cause psychological issue later in life. Education is important. There is always reasons.

      1. It depends how close your relationship is? Are you more friendly? Your previous conversation help you if she is honest talking to you. First talk directly with calm approach. The child could hide it from you if you have tendency to get upset easily. Talk to teachers or friends if she is not open to you. Search her room. Look for any diary or clue or anything seem odd to you. Monitor her behavior. I hope you will get some clue. Sometimes the kids don’t share about the bullies. God bless her.
        No excuse missing school unless clinically sick.

  6. I agree with the last comment. You first need to know why does she not want to go to school? Is this the start of a school phobia? Has something happened at school? Is she worrying about something? Is she mixing with the wrong friends? Has her view of education become jaundiced?

  7. When a parent is at odds within themselves of taking moral action(s) to benefit their child, its indicative of why the child lack a moral compass and or self motivation to better themselves automatically.
    Albeit a tad late in the cat and mouse game but perhaps the real question should be: is the parent, even parent materiel enough to raise any child responsibly? imo

      1. Hold them accountable from the on start of becoming a parent, while providing education before, during and after the child(ren) are born or take the children away for their own well being Parentship is a sacred duty.

  8. I like your idea for a new kind of post, Betul 🙂

    There’s insufficient data – so more data would need to be gathered. For instance, the “problem” may not be school. She may want to stay home because of something going on at home. She may be concerned that something may happen at home while she is away at school. She can’t focus on schoolwork while there’s this “problem” at home.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I will keep that in mind for next time! So, the problem could be that she is not going to school not because of a problem at school but rather because because something at home keeps her there.

  9. Communication is key here. There will be reasons but they may not be fully understood so a discussion is necessary. Going to school is necessary for social reasons as well as educational but there are many ways to do this now.

  10. Yes, make her go to school but find ways for self-motivation. There is something for everybody in school, even if it’s just the cafeteria social scene.

      1. Yes – School is multi-dimensional; if she doesn’t like math, she may like to join band or the chess club. There are many reasons to go to school besides academics.

  11. I am by no means speaking as an expert, but if it were my kid I’d try to find out why they didn’t want to go to school. They could be being bullied by a fellow student or adult on campus, sexually abused by a teacher/administrator/older student, or having difficulty with work because of a learning disability or visual impairment. Maybe she just needs to be close to her parents or has an undiagnosed disorder or illness of some kind.

    What I have found in my experience is that my kid always tells me the truth because he knows that I will always find out what it is if he doesn’t. He also knows that school is good for him and he likes learning. So if there is any time where he doesn’t want to go to school it raises red flags as it should for most parents. School is where children get most of their socializing with people other than their parents and if a child doesn’t want to go there is something wrong either with the child’s health or with the school experience, usually with the school experience.

    Usually if I let my kid stay home and feel safe and comfortable with the knowledge that I am nearby and he will not be mocked, or punished for anything he says or feels, he soon confides in me whatever it is that he is having problems with. Then we fix the problem and he goes to school again soon after.

    Sometimes all he needed was an extra day off when life has been too busy and hectic or when he wasn’t feeling great.

    That is just my experience. Talking to my kid always works so far.

    I can also tell you that as a person who was bullied by fellow students and sexually harassed by male classmates and instructors when I was attending school; that forcing a child to go to school because they NEED to, or SHOULD, or because they’re concerns are stupid, or you just plain don’t believe them will destroy any trust your child has in you. Find out the why your kid doesn’t want to go to school so that your kid doesn’t come home beaten, bruised, or raped, or not at all because you never bothered to find out that they had an undiagnosed illness which remained untreated because it was more important to you for them to go to school than to be healthy and safe.

    1. That is a very nice explanation! We should take our children as individuals and take their opinions. We adults too, we need to be talked to. So do our children.

      1. I grew up as a kind with zero focus and also never finished any assignment.
        The teacher would find out I would get a beating. Lets say if anyone in the school had a lucky day they got like 10 strokes of the cane.
        Later i think motivation could have worked better. Most of the tests are about measuring how smart you are mostly if you failed a beating ensued.
        If its not bullying by students maybe a teacher or problems with a teacher or teachers.
        If She started out well and is now switching of there is a problem. Most likely intimidating subjects. Worst of all would be if teachers focused on teaching only the few “bright students”. Believing if you dont understand on the board you doomed. The rest were even called dunders.
        It caused unexplainable trauma in math for 70% of the class. So bad that in highschool we would go to math class to pass time.
        Only five did assignments the rest copied. A who always scored 98% in math was also number last in class.

  12. If I were you, I would first get to the ‘why’ and do my independent research vs just asking her why. If it is boredom, then there are many creative ways to solve that :-). If it is missing parents then perhaps volunteer at lunch break or in the classroom as a helper. Once you post the ‘why’ I might have more suggestions for you 🙂

    1. I left the why unexplained on purpose to see what would come up:) But next time, I will try to be more explicit:) How would you do your research without asking her?

      1. Talking to her teachers, other parents is how I would do my independent research. I would also arrange a play date at a park and hang out with her to see if there are social emotional issues that need to be addressed.

  13. We all had reasons why we shouldn’t go to school as kids especially at that age but my parents made us to going to school because early education at school was as important as life itself in my part of the world.
    With the educational system in this present time, schools have more work and less play if not no play, so kids hate school. They’re only forced to because they have no option.
    Home is their most comfort zone so we all understand but you must make her go to school. But do the following checks.
    Find out if she loves her lessons. Not the teachers but the way they deliver the lessons. If she doesn’t get fun out of her lessons, she would hate going to school. In this case you need to change her school.
    2. Find out if she has friends at school or in isolation. If a child is isolated at school, it will be a terrible place to be. Find out if she has supportive friends, not just friends but supportive ones.
    3. Find out if she’s being bullied, that might be another reason. It might be verbal like name calling or someone making fun of her in a bad way. Sit with her to talk it out.
    Find out if any of the teachers is doing the unthinkable…this is rare but talk with her, it’s a possibility.
    In the end she must go to school no matter what.

      1. Yes. A lot of things happen in school settingl – socially and academically. So I ask, not just my daughter but my boys to tell me about them at the end of each school day. They are always eager to tell me whatever happened at school one by one. After hearing their stories I ask questions like.
        Were your lessons enjoyable? What are our assignment scores, who got everything correct?
        Did any one disturb you at school?
        Did you ask or answer any questionsl today? (Of course they have reward for that) Participation in class helps a child to feel good about themselves and enjoy the lessons and day at school) Did you disturb anyone at school? Did you get punished?( of course they have something withdrawn for getting punished or more punishment from me) If a child gets punished often at school for disturbing, it makes them hate school. So they shouldn’t.
        How many friends do you have now? Are they good? Why? ( I ask this question on weekly basis.
        Tell me about your friend.) Fun with friends many school easy.
        Did any teacher talk to you today? In private? What about?
        All these questions are to make sure she’s enjoying school in a safe environment. If she does, she would be the one to say, even if I’m ill, I dont want to miss school.
        I skipped school because I had this boy who always bullied me verbally at school. And my boy had complained about his losing his friends because he refused to share his lunch with them. He’s 11 by the way. He was in tears telling me about it and I told him not to worry. I encouraged him day in day out until he got other friends. I could go on and on.

        I would sit with my daughter to have indept discussion to find out why she would prefer to stay home to going to school. I would use series of indirect questions to find out a lot of things.
        I would start with talking about a similar experience – my own experience or my mother’s experience or any ones’s experience or just tell a story to start. Then I would ask her to tell me how school feels like generally.
        Is anyone disturbing you at school?
        Do your friends come to school everyday? Do they like the lessons? Do you? Tell me about the bullies in your class, school. Have they ever said anything to you that you didn’t like.

  14. I’m not sure what the alternative of not going to school might be…maybe home schooling, if that’s an option for you maybe you should try it. Sometimes we think that others don’t want to go outside because of laziness so we force them to go to school, work, parties, etc. But maybe she is an introvert and she really hates it out there. I know that I am drained of energy every time I go out and is so hard for me to make friends and even talk to people sometimes. If she refuses to go to school for sure there is a problem and making her go regardless, is not going to help her.

  15. Personally, I loathed school at 10. I was as tall as I am now, and was taller than my 5th grade teacher. I had started developing, which made me uncomfortable. I was new to the school, and the city, so that didn’t help. I had few friends, braces, glasses, and my counselor told me I was “heavy” because I had that fat to be developed into lady bits. In short it was misery. I had an epic bout of depression then as well.
    She has the option of selecting a school, or even homeschooling, but she can NOT opt out. That’s not how life works. Unless she has a burning desire to work in a restaurant as a server or the like, she will need more education. Does she want to live on her own at some point? Have a car? Travel? That takes income, and education is what – for the most part – gets better pay. Blue collar work is nothing to mock, but it is backbreaking. Is that what she wants? Even things that you might not consider needing some kind of training (shoveling zoo poo) do in fact, prefer people with some kind of veterinary education.
    I would say keep the lines of communication open. Find out what’s going on. Is she sad? Is she scared? Is she being bullied? Is she having difficulties that glasses might help? What motivates her, and use that motivation, be it income or spa days or extra TV time on the weekends.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! I agree that education should be kept within a system. Do you think a 10-year-old child be open to talking about those future worries? Or do they need more material, immediate reward?

      1. My son when he was younger had a very real understanding of how school affects your life in the future. I dropped out of college due to my high risk pregnancy with him and help his father study his way through college from home. His dad went on to get a great paying job but he did not want me to continue my college education until after our child started school, something I refused to do to my child (once a child starts school they need parents more than ever.) and we separated. After my ex and I separated, my son’s father continued to live well with lots of money to spend on whatever he wanted due to his high paying career he got with his college education and not being required to pay his full obligation of child support and I, at the time, worked for very low wages until I went back to college and got more education for a better career. (There were other factors which I won’t go into but I would have had more options if I had been allowed to complete my degree while my child was young instead of having to wait because of the interference from his father. My child saw the difference in how his mother lived and how his father lived and understood that it was entirely because of the difference of education and career options. So yes, a ten-year-old child can be open to talking about those future worries.

      2. This is a nice point! I am then underestimating children’s mental perception levels. Thanks for sharing your experience and how it relates to your child. It is truly touching!

      3. From what I can see, most 10 year olds have a pretty decent grasp of practical. Especially when you say something like “OK, we can try homeschooling, but this means you’ll have to do more around the house because part of my job will be teaching you. You’ll still have to get up and be dressed” or whatever rules there are in your home. When it comes to 6 or 8 years out – they KNOW they want to drive. That costs money. Sure, that can be earned in a minimum wage setting, but how are they getting back and forth? Who is paying for that? It’s not a right. *child swoons in shock!* It also takes a LONG time to earn enough for a car mopping floors at a burger joint.

  16. As a homeschooling mom who tried traditional school with my child I would suggest first seeking out the reasons for not wanting to attend school. What your daughter’s perception is regarding what she would prefer to be doing, as in, is this an environmental thing or an internal motivation thing. Learning occurs in a multitude of daily experiences and does not have to be traditional to be effective. I would also ask yourself what are you willing to try with her. Homeschooling is a big shift in mindset and it takes time, patience and perseverance to find your stride. My daughter is 9 and we talk often about how we may have to endure and do things we aren’t fond of. That being said I pulled my daughter from school because I saw her spirit being crushed and her love and curiosity for learning was dwindling. Ultimately reigniting that in her was more valuable to me than forcing her to “stick it out”. It’s a tough call and you know your child and yourself best so you’ll figure it out. I think the beauty in today’s world are the options we have for finding the right fit.

    1. I love the explanation! I am glad that you found something that worked out at the end! It is a hard call indeed but ultimately, we have to evaluate our own individual situation if we want the maximum gain!

  17. Is the school day too long for her? That was my experience, at least. By the end of a traditional school day, my head felt too packed full of information, information I could never hope to retain, and the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was homework! However, I learned well in short bursts; when I could organize my own schedule in college, I found myself choosing two or three classes per day with fairly long breaks in between. Definitely ask her if the length of the school day affects how much she wants to attend school, and perhaps even experiment with some guided study time when time permits, using this idea of breaks in between short study sessions.

      1. It could be helpful! Definitely ask your daughter if that’s something she’d prefer before getting too deeply invested, since I know homeschooling requires some extra time and resources, but if it works for her, that’d be awesome!

  18. I’m torn here. I agree with what many are saying. I think you would want to talk with your daughter to see why she feels the way she does about school. On the other hand, she is still extremely young. She may not like school, but she is too young to understand what it will mean to her future if she totally rejects education. Once she gets a little older, though, you should begin to help her explore her options and develop her interests and talents. College isn’t for everyone, and as someone who’s been an educator for a very long time, I can say with lots of confidence that one size definitely does not fit all. If getting education after high school isn’t her thing, help her find alternatives. Maybe she has an entrepreneurial bent? Maybe she can do some kind of technical training? I often wish that I had been more open-minded when it came time for me to think about “careers” and such…

    1. Hey Troy! Thank you for sharing this! What you are saying is that we should make her go to school at least until college. Until then, though, would speaking help to make her go to school?

  19. I knew of a child psychiatrist who would take his patients fishing. They would sit by the lake for hours, quiet – because weirdly enough, THAT was the point of it all! Sometimes they caught fish, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they waved to the other anglers, sometimes they didn’t. Then on the way back, walking through the woods, they would talk about fishing, fishes, nature, animal life etc.
    He would do this with his patients a few times, sharing food his partner made for them.
    Eventually, the child would talk, during the walk back home or in the car drive to the clinic.
    EVERYTHING has a valid reason – like this child not wanting to go to school
    EVERYTHING is NOT “cured” by direct confronting conversation or making someone obey rules
    This is not about a short term fix, but an opportunity to creatively solve a life-hiccup 😊

    My advice would be, go on an adventure that involves physical activity (minus talking) with the child – like hiking, building something, mapping stars, learning pottery/dancing/cooking ….. and bond as peers
    Let the child see that nothing is truly in our control too. Let the child see that adults too play by rules and had to learn them in varying different ways

    Then the child will either talk and tell u in words or will just develop the skills and confidence needed to get back to school

    1. I like this idea! Direct confrontation would probably scare the child! This would also help to make the bond between the parent and the child stronger.
      One question: What if the child still refuses to speak?

      1. Why assume that words and speaking is the only way to communicate? Why do these activities with the child as a means to an end vis a vis solve the problem of getting her to school?

        Maybe the adult needs this time too to realign with the child? Preferably with no end goal except unconditional acceptance

        Children can sense “manipulation” and know they are powerless in the face of it, because they don’t know the game well enough, don’t know the rules and don’t know how to change the rules as one goes along. That’s why they resign and eventually succumb.
        This is unfortunately the end result of conventional therapy …. the child unconvinced and completely tired and finally succumbing

        You. Don’t. Want. That.

        You want this child to grow up to be a decisive, dependable, independent and disciplined adult ….. and that takes counterintuitive, unconventional methods sometimes 😊

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